Why warm water freezes faster than cold water.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. While it has been proven that warm water can freeze faster than cold water, many speculate about the different factors which allow this to happen. Overall, the following ideas have been used to explain why warm water can freeze faster than cold water.

1. Warm water evaporates faster than cold water. Therefore, with evaporation, the initial mass of both containers differs. Once water have evaporated, there is less mass to the warmed water. Therefore, given it has less mass, it takes less time to freeze.

2. Warming water allow gasses which have dissolved to escape. Given that cold water still contains dissolved gasses, the water can take longer to freeze.

3. The surrounding which the water is keep in, an exists in, may have an impact on how fast the water freezes. If it is cold, the warmed water can drop in temperature faster than the cold water. Containers the water is frozen in can also impact the time needed to freeze.

Essentially, too make factors play into the freezing of warm water over cold water. While it has been proven time and time again, it seems that no cut-and-dry reason exists.

Aristotle, around 300 BC, was even known to study this phenomenon.

The fact that water has previously been warmed contributes to its freezing quickly; for so it cools sooner.  Hence many people, when they want to cool hot water quickly, begin by putting it in the sun (Aristotle in E. W. Webster, "Meteorologica I", Oxford U. P., Oxford, 1923, pgs 348b—349a). 


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