Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Chemistry => Topic started by: Draco on 05/11/2019 20:01:51

Title: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Draco on 05/11/2019 20:01:51
Ok, now what I'm about to describe may sound completely absurd but I have witnessed this with my own two eyes and know for a fact it isn't some simple trick, but I would like to know why and what metal/alloys would cause this.

Years ago I knew someone that had these simply metal cups, and when you would put a plain normal ice cube into them the ice would literally melt right in front of you but no water was left into its place, basically the ice sublimated, so it went straight from a solid to a gas state in under 1 minute, and as a result the cup would be ice cold but the ice was gone and your drink would be cooled but not diluted like if ice was left to sit in it.

I get the concept of sublimation, but my question is what metal/alloy would cause such a thing to happen??

I have searched countless places and everything just comes back to dry ice, but the ice cubes that were used were not dry ice they were just normal water, frozen in an ice cube tray, no trickery played a part in what happens.

Can anyone help me figure this out please and thank you??
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Kryptid on 05/11/2019 21:42:07
I've never heard of anything like this before. Perhaps the cup was designed to absorb the melt-water from the ice with tiny pores?

There are metals that will react with water (such as the alkali metals) and as such no liquid water would be left in the cup at the end of the reaction. However, those reactions tend to be strongly exothermic and would be quite noticeable. The leftover hydroxide residue would be noticeable as well.
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Bored chemist on 05/11/2019 21:58:58
I'm guessing at this sort of thing
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintering#Sintering_of_metallic_powders
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: evan_au on 05/11/2019 22:30:58
What colour was the metal used in the cups?
What was it's texture (eg was it smooth or granular)?

Quote from: OP
your drink would be cooled but not diluted like if ice was left to sit in it
I am not clear if there was a liquid drink in the cup at the time?
This would have reacted with Alkali metals, and drained out through a sintered material.

Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: chiralSPO on 06/11/2019 00:25:32
Are you absolutely sure that it was normal ice, and not dry ice? Dry ice will sublime, making the metal very cold (can go down to almost 80C), then any drink put in the cup would be cooled by the cup.

I can't think of any way that water ice could be caused to sublime without reducing the temperature, or just waiting a long time...
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Draco on 06/11/2019 01:22:25
The cups almost had a pewter look about them, but they were not as fragile as pewter is. They were quite heavy despite their size. The outside was rough due to their aesthetics, but the inside where the ice disappear was smooth to appearance and touch.

No it was not dry ice, as I stated it was normal ice, I know the difference between the two and you do not make dry ice in your freezer by adding tap water to an ice cube tray and freezing it.

There was no liquid in the cups after the ice disappeared, and none on the table after as well, so like I said the metal/alloys caused the ice to sublimate, i didn't state it was with an endothermic reaction, I just thought that was implied when I said the cups turned ice cold as a result. 
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Draco on 06/11/2019 01:31:07
Sorry I should also add in there was nothing in the cups either prior to the ice being placed inside them.

I read that wiki article and pertains more to how to make metals more pure then it does at explaining my question.

I have searched so many different ways on Google to try and pull up anything at all that explains what I saw myself, but with zero luck. But I know what I saw first hand and the owner of the cups himself did not know what they were made out of just that they had been made eons ago by a famous and well known stein maker.

Any other information I can provide please just ask, but again I will state it WAS NOT dry ice that was used. I checked, i thought they had dry ice in the freezer but no they did not. It was just a plain old regular tap water ice cube, so the key is in the metal composition and that is what I'm trying to figure out.
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: chiralSPO on 06/11/2019 02:16:03
As far as I understand it (and I'm quite certain of this), it is impossible for a material to behave as you have described towards water ice at atmospheric pressure. The rate of sublimation of an ice cube cannot be enhanced so dramatically simply by contact with a material. The equilibrium between solid, gas, and liquid is not favorable, so adding a catalyst will not help. Also, if such a material were known, why wouldn't it be on the surface of every airplane--the time spent deicing commercial airliners has got to be worth vast sums of money to the airlines, so if there were a material that passively just vaporized all the ice it came into contact with, using only the surrounding environment's thermal energy to satisfy the (huge) enthalpy of sublimation.

Therefore, I think there is either some additional critical detail that you have omitted, or misremembered. Sorry to come across as condescending, but mistaking the identity of the ice appeared to me the most likely explanation. Maybe there was a vacuum chamber involved? Or a fast stream of dry air? Or maybe it wasn't subliming, and was in fact absorbed or wicked away by the cup? I don't know the answer, but happy to brainstorm possibilities...
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Draco on 08/11/2019 03:08:49
As far as I understand it (and I'm quite certain of this), it is impossible for a material to behave as you have described towards water ice at atmospheric pressure. The rate of sublimation of an ice cube cannot be enhanced so dramatically simply by contact with a material. The equilibrium between solid, gas, and liquid is not favorable, so adding a catalyst will not help. Also, if such a material were known, why wouldn't it be on the surface of every airplane--the time spent deicing commercial airliners has got to be worth vast sums of money to the airlines, so if there were a material that passively just vaporized all the ice it came into contact with, using only the surrounding environment's thermal energy to satisfy the (huge) enthalpy of sublimation.

Therefore, I think there is either some additional critical detail that you have omitted, or misremembered. Sorry to come across as condescending, but mistaking the identity of the ice appeared to me the most likely explanation. Maybe there was a vacuum chamber involved? Or a fast stream of dry air? Or maybe it wasn't subliming, and was in fact absorbed or wicked away by the cup? I don't know the answer, but happy to brainstorm possibilities...

To answer your question about why isn't it on planes and such, answer is simple.....good old fashion economic greed.
Hemp is far superior to cotton for textiles, but way back in the day the textile industry basically paid off governments to make hemp illegal to produce because they were making too much money with cotton. So its simple, why release something that would then force multi-million dollar industries out of business?

You are right you do come across as condescending, even more so because you refuse to believe that I am telling the absolute truth, and ignoring the fact I have stated multiple times that it WAS NOT DRY ICE that was used, regular normal tap water ice cubes!!! I know the difference between the two and at first like yourself I did not believe what I saw and thought it was some sort of trick being played. The only thing I have omitted, is simply the makers name of these cups. All I remember pertaining to him was that he was a famous well known stein maker back in the day.

 I personally have an issue recalling names of people, but when it comes to everything else my memory recollection is to say the least very eerily scary at what I can remember. Even the tellers at my bank freak out when I do in-person transactions because I have a 12 digit pin on my card, and they never see someone with such a long pin as mine. So please do not question my ability to provide/recall information.

Just because we cannot explain something because of our limited knowledge, does not make what someone claims to be true invalid, it just simply means its science that has yet to be solved. Look even 1000 years ago people the world was flat, but we know nowadays that is untrue, but back then if you would have said the earth was round, you would've been called crazy. Magic is simply science that has yet to be explained!

Another great example of how we as a whole do not know as much as we would like to believe we do is the Pyramids at Giza. Even with all our technology we cannot replicate them, let alone build them to last for thousands of years like the ancient Egyptians did. But yet we know it can be done, we see the results every time a photo of them is shown, but we do not understand how they did it, nor can we replicate it.

The metals used cannot be absorbing the melted ice water like you claim because if that was the case when you did add your drink into the cup your drink would start to disappear as well on you and in those cups they held liquid perfectly.

As I have stated I have done my due diligence before seeking outside help on the matter, I do not like my time wasted so why would I do it to someone else for? I'm a pretty smart and very handy guy, but even I cannot think of how what I witnessed is possible, I just know that it is possible. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would call BS on it just like you are, but I did witness it and I made damn sure it wasn't some trick being played on me.

The only part I left out was the sake the owner of those two cups even allowed me to do a control experiment, we took two ice cubes out of the same tray, one went into the "magic" cup, and one into a regular bowl, the one in the regular bowl acted like any regular melting piece of ice would, the ice slowly but surely melted from a solid into a liquid, and the other ice cube in the "magic" cup vanished long before liquid water even started to form in the bowl of the control.

Now I do not see how me explaining how I determined it was not some simple dry ice trick benefits the progression of this topic, I would have thought saying I know the difference between dry ice and regular ice would be enough but clearly it is not.

So do you still not believe what I claim is true?? As I said maybe saying the ice "sublimated" isn't the right termology to use but it is the only term that makes any applicable sense since that is exactly what happened to the ice, it went straight from a solid to a gas state.

So how about we try and brainstorm some metal combinations that could possible explain this? We know that certain metals have an exothermic reaction to water, but do they also react to solid water (ice) in the same fashion?
What metals have an endothermic reaction to water?

Is it potentially possible that maybe an endothermic reaction basically caused the ice to evaporate? Think kind of how ice eventually disappear while it is always in a freezer, but just drastically sped up.

I know I read somewhere a long while ago that one theory of ice is that it never is truly a full solid state, that in fact the very very top layer tends to remain a liquid and this is why ice is so slippery as that minuscule layer of water is what prevents frictional cohesion between an object and the ice. I don't know if it does or doesn't apply to this in any way, I am simply throwing ideas out there in hopes it helps trigger someones idea on how this all is even possible.

I do really believe sublimation is the proper term though because there was a heavy dense fog leftover after the ice 'disappeared'. But again I will state IT WAS NOT DRY ICE! otherwise my control would have sublimated as well, but it melted like normal ice would. So the key is whatever metal/metals/alloy are in those cups!
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: syhprum on 08/11/2019 09:41:17
Of course we could build the Pyramids at Giza today if the money to do so was provided but there is no incentive to do so they would cost a great deal and provide no return.
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: chiralSPO on 08/11/2019 13:12:38
As far as I understand it (and I'm quite certain of this), it is impossible for a material to behave as you have described towards water ice at atmospheric pressure. The rate of sublimation of an ice cube cannot be enhanced so dramatically simply by contact with a material. The equilibrium between solid, gas, and liquid is not favorable, so adding a catalyst will not help. Also, if such a material were known, why wouldn't it be on the surface of every airplane--the time spent deicing commercial airliners has got to be worth vast sums of money to the airlines, so if there were a material that passively just vaporized all the ice it came into contact with, using only the surrounding environment's thermal energy to satisfy the (huge) enthalpy of sublimation.

Therefore, I think there is either some additional critical detail that you have omitted, or misremembered. Sorry to come across as condescending, but mistaking the identity of the ice appeared to me the most likely explanation. Maybe there was a vacuum chamber involved? Or a fast stream of dry air? Or maybe it wasn't subliming, and was in fact absorbed or wicked away by the cup? I don't know the answer, but happy to brainstorm possibilities...

To answer your question about why isn't it on planes and such, answer is simple.....good old fashion economic greed.
Hemp is far superior to cotton for textiles, but way back in the day the textile industry basically paid off governments to make hemp illegal to produce because they were making too much money with cotton. So its simple, why release something that would then force multi-million dollar industries out of business?

You are right you do come across as condescending, even more so because you refuse to believe that I am telling the absolute truth, and ignoring the fact I have stated multiple times that it WAS NOT DRY ICE that was used, regular normal tap water ice cubes!!! I know the difference between the two and at first like yourself I did not believe what I saw and thought it was some sort of trick being played. The only thing I have omitted, is simply the makers name of these cups. All I remember pertaining to him was that he was a famous well known stein maker back in the day.

 I personally have an issue recalling names of people, but when it comes to everything else my memory recollection is to say the least very eerily scary at what I can remember. Even the tellers at my bank freak out when I do in-person transactions because I have a 12 digit pin on my card, and they never see someone with such a long pin as mine. So please do not question my ability to provide/recall information.

Just because we cannot explain something because of our limited knowledge, does not make what someone claims to be true invalid, it just simply means its science that has yet to be solved. Look even 1000 years ago people the world was flat, but we know nowadays that is untrue, but back then if you would have said the earth was round, you would've been called crazy. Magic is simply science that has yet to be explained!

Another great example of how we as a whole do not know as much as we would like to believe we do is the Pyramids at Giza. Even with all our technology we cannot replicate them, let alone build them to last for thousands of years like the ancient Egyptians did. But yet we know it can be done, we see the results every time a photo of them is shown, but we do not understand how they did it, nor can we replicate it.

The metals used cannot be absorbing the melted ice water like you claim because if that was the case when you did add your drink into the cup your drink would start to disappear as well on you and in those cups they held liquid perfectly.

As I have stated I have done my due diligence before seeking outside help on the matter, I do not like my time wasted so why would I do it to someone else for? I'm a pretty smart and very handy guy, but even I cannot think of how what I witnessed is possible, I just know that it is possible. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would call BS on it just like you are, but I did witness it and I made damn sure it wasn't some trick being played on me.

The only part I left out was the sake the owner of those two cups even allowed me to do a control experiment, we took two ice cubes out of the same tray, one went into the "magic" cup, and one into a regular bowl, the one in the regular bowl acted like any regular melting piece of ice would, the ice slowly but surely melted from a solid into a liquid, and the other ice cube in the "magic" cup vanished long before liquid water even started to form in the bowl of the control.

Now I do not see how me explaining how I determined it was not some simple dry ice trick benefits the progression of this topic, I would have thought saying I know the difference between dry ice and regular ice would be enough but clearly it is not.

So do you still not believe what I claim is true?? As I said maybe saying the ice "sublimated" isn't the right termology to use but it is the only term that makes any applicable sense since that is exactly what happened to the ice, it went straight from a solid to a gas state.

So how about we try and brainstorm some metal combinations that could possible explain this? We know that certain metals have an exothermic reaction to water, but do they also react to solid water (ice) in the same fashion?
What metals have an endothermic reaction to water?

Is it potentially possible that maybe an endothermic reaction basically caused the ice to evaporate? Think kind of how ice eventually disappear while it is always in a freezer, but just drastically sped up.

I know I read somewhere a long while ago that one theory of ice is that it never is truly a full solid state, that in fact the very very top layer tends to remain a liquid and this is why ice is so slippery as that minuscule layer of water is what prevents frictional cohesion between an object and the ice. I don't know if it does or doesn't apply to this in any way, I am simply throwing ideas out there in hopes it helps trigger someones idea on how this all is even possible.

I do really believe sublimation is the proper term though because there was a heavy dense fog leftover after the ice 'disappeared'. But again I will state IT WAS NOT DRY ICE! otherwise my control would have sublimated as well, but it melted like normal ice would. So the key is whatever metal/metals/alloy are in those cups!

Pix or it didn't happen.

I'm not saying that it's impossible just because I can't think of a way that it could (I can't), but because the phenomenon you described is actually forbidden by the laws of thermodynamics, as we currently understand them. I will grant that it is possible that new evidence will come to light that invalidates some of the assumptions that go into the laws of thermodynamics. However, they have held up to rigorous testing for over 150 years...

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And right now all we have is a single eye witness account, with enough details missing (ie what metal) that no one could possibly try to reproduce it.
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: Bored chemist on 08/11/2019 18:39:48
Even with all our technology we cannot replicate them, let alone build them to last for thousands of years like the ancient Egyptians did.
Of course we could do it. The idea that we can't pile stones on top of each other is silly.
If we built a pile of rocks in a dry place, how would it not be built to last for thousands of years?
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: syhprum on 08/11/2019 18:58:37
It would be interesting to observe the behaviour of an ice cube placed in a cup of sodium or similar reactive metal I would expect the face of the ice cube in contact to rapidly melt and turn to vapour perhaps little liquid would show
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: evan_au on 08/11/2019 21:49:36
Quote from: syphrum
an ice cube placed in a cup of sodium
The results would be instantaneous and destructive- it produces a lot of hydrogen gas, which promptly explodes
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: syhprum on 09/11/2019 08:37:05
Can Sodium be alloyed with any other metals so that the reaction is not so violent ?
Title: Re: Ice reaction to a specific unknown metal/alloy
Post by: chiralSPO on 09/11/2019 14:53:02
Yes, there are alloys that contain sodium and a less reactive metal, which would react a little less violently. The most common one (at least that I know of) is sodium amalgam, or sodium mercury alloy. I certainly wouldn't want to drink anything out of that!

Diluting the sodium with a less reactive metal would slow down the reaction, but it would ultimately be essentially just as exothermic--producing heat, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide--none of which I would want in my whiskey! Besides, the OP said that the cup got colder, which is certainly not consistent with water/sodium reaction!