Science, Tech, Math › Science Melting Ice Science Experiment Share Flipboard Email Print Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Getty Images Science Chemistry Activities for Kids Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated February 05, 2020 This is a fun, non-toxic project for kids of all ages, and the best part is you likely have everything you need at home. All you need is ice, salt, and food coloring. Materials You can use any type of salt for this project. Coarse salt, such as rock salt or sea salt, works great. Table salt is fine. Also, you could use other types of salt besides sodium chloride (NaCl). For example, Epsom salts are a good choice. You don't have to color the project, but it's a lot of fun to use food coloring, watercolors, or any water-based paint. You can use liquids or powders, whichever you have handy. Materials WaterSaltFood coloring (or watercolors or tempera paints) Experiment Instructions Make ice. You can use ice cubes for this project, but it's nice to have larger pieces of ice for your experiment. Freeze water in shallow plastic containers such as disposable storage containers for sandwiches or leftovers. Only fill the containers part way to make relatively thin pieces of ice. The salt can melt holes all the way through thin pieces, making interesting ice tunnels.Keep the ice in the freezer until you are ready to experiment, then remove the blocks of ice and place them on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan. If the ice doesn't want to come out, it's easy to remove ice from containers by running warm water around the bottom of the dish. Place the pieces of ice in a large pan or a cookie sheet. The ice will melt, so this keeps the project contained.Sprinkle salt onto the ice or make little salt piles on top of the pieces. Experiment.Dot the surface with coloring. The coloring doesn't color the frozen ice, but it follows the melting pattern. You'll be able to see channels, holes, and tunnels in the ice, plus it looks pretty.You can add more salt and coloring, or not. Explore however you like. Clean Up Tips This is a messy project. You can perform it outdoors or in a kitchen or bathroom. The coloring will stain hands, clothes, and surfaces. You can remove coloring from counters using a cleaner with bleach. How It Works Very young kids will like to explore and may not care too much about the science, but you can discuss erosion and the shapes formed by running water. The salt lowers the freezing point of water through a process called freezing point depression. The ice starts to melt, making liquid water. Salt dissolves in the water, adding ions that increase the temperature at which the water could re-freeze. As the ice melts, energy is drawn from the water, making it colder. Salt is used in ice cream makers for this reason. It makes the ice cream cold enough to freeze. Did you notice how the water feels colder than the ice cube? The ice exposed to the salty water melts faster than other ice, so holes and channels form.