Science, Tech, Math › Science Why Is Water More Dense Than Ice? Share Flipboard Email Print JLGutierrez / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids 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 June 24, 2019 Water is unusual in that its maximum density occurs as a liquid, rather than as a solid. This means ice floats on water. Density is the mass per unit volume of a material. For all substances, density changes with temperature. The mass of material does not change, but the volume or space that it occupies either increases or decreases with temperature. The vibration of molecules increases as temperature rises and they absorb more energy. For most substances, this increases the space between molecules, making warmer liquids less dense than cooler solids. It's All About Hydrogen Bonds However, this effect is offset in water by hydrogen bonding. In liquid water, hydrogen bonds connect each water molecule to approximately 3.4 other water molecules. When water freezes into ice, it crystallizes into a rigid lattice that increases the space between molecules, with each molecule hydrogen bonded to 4 other molecules.