Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?

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Offline epicdennyblaine

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Something quite odd happens every time I freeze up a tray of ice cubes in my freezer. One random cube in the tray grows what looks like a stalagmite: a thin spindle of ice that protrudes sometimes over an inch upward from the top surface of its cube.

Now, I'm positive these are not actually stalagmites, which by definition would be caused by drippings from the ceiling of my freezer. These funny protrusions instead appear to be caused by a small quantity of near-frozen water jetissoning itself upward from the cube, or cube-to-be, and then instantaneously freezing. Sometimes they are oriented more or less vertically, and sometimes on a considerable angle. I can't recall seeing such formations in other peoples' ice cubes. What the heck are they? What causes them?

Thanks in advance, if you know the answer!
« Last Edit: 08/07/2011 15:47:53 by chris »
 

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #1 on: 18/04/2004 12:56:36 »
WOW !!...sounds like divine intervention to me...better keep it hush hush else you'll incur pilgrimages to your holy freezer tray.[:D]

How bizarre though, with my complete lack of any knowledge in this field I am unable to contribute a sensible answer. Have you tried moving the ice cube tray to a different part of the freezer ? what happens then ?...or is it, do you think ,the crop circle version of ice cube madness ?..perhaps you should invite a camera crew to study said occurance !![;)]

I hope someone here can help....very interesting though. good luck in getting an answer.


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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #2 on: 18/04/2004 15:43:59 »
You must have an extremely cold freezer, or the water is not very pure. This phenomenon is common when rapid solidifcation occurs of a substance that is expanding. Water expands when it freezes, but it is usually pretty slow in a freezer, so we see only some cracking. To get the breakouts, you must have the freezer set very low, or have a rapid freezing plate in the freezer, which is sometimes used to rapid-freeze food for storage.
"F = ma, E = mc^2, and you can't push a string."

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #3 on: 18/04/2004 15:48:03 »
See?...didn't take long for someone with more clever brain cells than I to answer that...nice one gsmollin !!....of course...I knew that all the time !!!! *cheeky smirk*

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #4 on: 19/04/2004 02:06:48 »
It's not really cleverness, I'm afraid, just experience. This problem really becomes extreme with polymerization of plastics at elevated temperatures, and breakouts are pretty common. It's a problem for me because I use plastic potting compounds frequently.
"F = ma, E = mc^2, and you can't push a string."

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #5 on: 18/04/2004 12:56:36 »
WOW !!...sounds like divine intervention to me...better keep it hush hush else you'll incur pilgrimages to your holy freezer tray.[:D]

How bizarre though, with my complete lack of any knowledge in this field I am unable to contribute a sensible answer. Have you tried moving the ice cube tray to a different part of the freezer ? what happens then ?...or is it, do you think ,the crop circle version of ice cube madness ?..perhaps you should invite a camera crew to study said occurance !![;)]

I hope someone here can help....very interesting though. good luck in getting an answer.


'Men are the same as women...just inside out !'
Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #6 on: 18/04/2004 15:43:59 »
You must have an extremely cold freezer, or the water is not very pure. This phenomenon is common when rapid solidifcation occurs of a substance that is expanding. Water expands when it freezes, but it is usually pretty slow in a freezer, so we see only some cracking. To get the breakouts, you must have the freezer set very low, or have a rapid freezing plate in the freezer, which is sometimes used to rapid-freeze food for storage.
"F = ma, E = mc^2, and you can't push a string."

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #7 on: 18/04/2004 15:48:03 »
See?...didn't take long for someone with more clever brain cells than I to answer that...nice one gsmollin !!....of course...I knew that all the time !!!! *cheeky smirk*

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #8 on: 19/04/2004 02:06:48 »
It's not really cleverness, I'm afraid, just experience. This problem really becomes extreme with polymerization of plastics at elevated temperatures, and breakouts are pretty common. It's a problem for me because I use plastic potting compounds frequently.
"F = ma, E = mc^2, and you can't push a string."

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #9 on: 19/04/2004 13:00:27 »
Thanks Gsmollin... i feel a little elevated by your kind modesty, though I would say that your experince has contributed to your cleverness factor as I hope mine has too now thanks to you....

On a similar topic though, I have heard that boiling water first and then placing it in the freezer actually makes it freeze quicker than just cold water!!...did i hallucinate that ?..or did I really hear such a thing [?]...oh...and what do you do that brings you into contact with plastic potting compounds ?

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Offline bezoar

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #10 on: 20/04/2004 01:47:19 »
I can't imagine that hot water would freeze faster than cold water.  Another note of interest.  I have two ice trays in my freezer, both plastic.  In one, the ice just pops out, but in the other tray, the ice sticks and is hard to come out, or fractures when it pops out.  Anyone know why?
 

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #11 on: 20/04/2004 01:57:07 »
To Neilep, The water freezes faster after boiling because it is softer water, with a higher freezing temperature. Boiling removes most of the calcium hardness in the water, and that raises it's freezing temperature. I assume the two samples of water begin their freezing race at the same temperature.

By profession, I am an electrical engineer, and I design remote sensing electronic equipment. I unfortunately am forced to pot most of this equipment in plastic resins for environmental protection, and it is a major headache.

To bezoar, Insufficient data for meaningful answer. The two trays are different, so they may have a different shape, different plastic, or different surface finish.
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Offline chris

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #12 on: 20/04/2004 05:24:28 »
Good point about removing the temporary hardness by heating water, but it suffices to say that, even taking this into consideration, the cold water will always freeze faster (unless the amount of dissolved solute is huge) than the hot one.

Whilst the hot water will lose energy more rapidly than cold water (because there is a greater thermal gradient (see our 'wind chill' question of the week) it will never 'catch up' with the cold water simply because cold water has less energy (heat) to lose before it freezes.

Chris

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #13 on: 20/04/2004 14:54:53 »
Yes, of course cold water will freeze before hot water. Like I said, I was assuming the boiled water had been cooled to the same temperature as the un-boiled water before we began the freezing-race experiment. Any other starting conditions make comparisons pretty meaningless.
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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #14 on: 20/04/2004 19:32:37 »
Well I'm glad I wasn't having mind mirages when I heard that all those years ago....It's amazing how one little thing can spark a distant memory form the utter dregs of ones mind eh ?...Thanks for the answers guys.

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Offline MayoFlyFarmer

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #15 on: 21/04/2004 07:08:38 »
I actually have heard that if you want ice cubes to freeze fast to use hot tap water instead of cold tap water.  Whoever told me this had some crazy physics reason why it worked too but I've been trying to remember for years what it was because it perplexes me how it could overcome the energy difference.  I've been using hot water for my ice for a long time, and it does seem to freeze faster, although i haven't done a side by side experiment, could just be my imagination.  Has anyone else heard of this besides neil and myself?

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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #16 on: 22/04/2004 21:12:28 »
Justin, if memory serves me correctly the cold water was frozen long before the hot was, as you would expect.  We concluded that hot water froze faster in a relative way.
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Offline bezoar

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #17 on: 23/04/2004 04:40:00 »
To gsmollin,
Identical ice trays, bought at the same time.  What's up with the one with the sticky cubes?
 

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #18 on: 23/04/2004 20:26:44 »
Insufficient data for meaningful answer. Most likely explanation is surface finish, if you are sure they are of same shape and material.
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Offline epicdennyblaine

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #19 on: 26/04/2004 03:40:26 »
quote:
Originally posted by gsmollin

You must have an extremely cold freezer, or the water is not very pure. This phenomenon is common when rapid solidifcation occurs of a substance that is expanding. Water expands when it freezes, but it is usually pretty slow in a freezer, so we see only some cracking. To get the breakouts, you must have the freezer set very low, or have a rapid freezing plate in the freezer, which is sometimes used to rapid-freeze food for storage.


Dear gsmollin,

Thanks for your input here. Our freezer is rather cold (keeps the ice cream rock hard), AND our water is not that pure. We filter it through a Brita, but we are in an old building with really crummy pipes. Just for kicks I will try freezing up some purified water, adjusting the temp setting, and, as Neilep suggested, moving the tray around. I'll follow up with a post here if I get any noteworthy results.

Thanks all,

Jon

 

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Offline Intensity

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #20 on: 26/04/2004 10:21:11 »
OK, my water is filtered by a 3 stage plus reverse osmosis system in good working order.
I get these stalagmites all the time.
newbielink:http://www.members.shaw.ca/phantoms/PICT0057_.jpg [nonactive]
newbielink:http://www.members.shaw.ca/phantoms/PICT0059_.jpg [nonactive]

Any thoughts?
« Last Edit: 26/04/2004 10:24:59 by Intensity »
 

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Offline tweener

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #21 on: 26/04/2004 15:49:36 »
That's Cool!  (Pun intended!) [:D]

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Offline neilep

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #22 on: 26/04/2004 21:33:16 »
quote:
Originally posted by Intensity

OK, my water is filtered by a 3 stage plus reverse osmosis system in good working order.
I get these stalagmites all the time.
http://www.members.shaw.ca/phantoms/PICT0057_.jpg
http://www.members.shaw.ca/phantoms/PICT0059_.jpg

Any thoughts?



WOW !!..I'm quite envious of your perpendicular orientated ice cubes

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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #23 on: 27/04/2004 03:14:45 »
Pretty awesum. I haven't had that happen. In fact, all your ice cubes look like they are bursting. You must be freezing very quickly, so that the outside of the cube is frozen, and the inside breaks through and begins the growth.
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Offline chris

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #24 on: 27/04/2004 06:21:27 »
Yes, it looks a bit like an ice geyser. Presumably the expansion of the ice surround this forming 'cube' squeezes water out of the top and it forms a column. Is the stalagmite hollow or solid ?

Chris

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Offline Intensity

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #25 on: 27/04/2004 08:30:40 »
The stalagmite is solid, usually they are MUCH smaller than this but they are a regular occurence if nothing else.
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Offline gsmollin

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #26 on: 27/04/2004 21:04:05 »
I reminds me of a feature in pack ice that looks similar, and is known to be caused by pressure in the pack ice.
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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #27 on: 03/05/2004 20:46:17 »
Hi Sean, welcome to the forum.  Do you live in Calgary (going by the URL on your piccys)?
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Offline Intensity

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #28 on: 05/05/2004 07:53:32 »
Shaw is the service provider for all of Western Canada, I live in Vancouver.
 

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Offline Donnah

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #29 on: 05/05/2004 18:49:52 »
Well Sean, it's nice to have another Canadian in the forum.
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Offline e-griehga

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Re: Why do stalagmites (ice spikes) form on my ice cubes?
« Reply #30 on: 13/09/2004 14:35:57 »
I also have ice spikes, and I will post later a collection of information about them, to further intrigue (or bore) you.  

In response to bezoar's cube tray q:  do you stack your trays?  Are you sure it's the trays and not their position while freezing?  I have had a similar issue, which included one tray popping out neatly and the other shattering the cubes, leaving frozen chunks at the bottom and shards in my ice bucket.  It's always the bottom one of the two that is not so neat.  When I am able to place them side-by-side, I generally have better luck (unless my freezer is almost empty, then I get ice spikes--yeah!)