What is the heaviest liquid per liter

Winter time…. Snow, frost and ice are on everyone's lips and not only concern people in Germany. Drivers swear, the others are happy that you can ski and the children let off steam with the sledge or ice skating.

Ice skating? Yes ... but why is the ice always up in a puddle or a lake? And not scattered all over the water? And why are my ice cubes floating upstairs in the whiskey-coke

This is normal for everyone, but why is that actually the case?

Well, every element has a specific weight. Everyone knows that a liter of water also weighs a kilo. That is the specific weight. But water has a peculiarity that no other element has:

Water is heaviest at 4 degrees. If you cool it down further, it becomes lighter, if you heat it up, it becomes lighter too!

Let's take a look at a few graphics and start with a beautiful summer day at the lake:

Pretty much everyone has been swimming in a lake in the summer. Especially in May or June you notice that when you swim out the water on your feet is much colder if you let them hang. To understand this, look at the specific weight of 1000 liters of water in the graphic above. As already mentioned, 4 degrees cold water is the hardest. Therefore, it sinks to the bottom at a weight of 999.97 kilograms per 1000 liters of water. However, warmer water is lighter and can therefore be found on the surface of the lake because it rises. You can see that the 20 degree warm water is around 1.8 kilograms lighter per 1000 liters. That's not much, but enough to keep the warmer water on the surface.

Now let's look at the same situation in the dead of winter:

Even in winter, water with a temperature of 4 degrees is the hardest. As I wrote above, however, water has the peculiarity of becoming lighter as it approaches freezing point. Now that is increasing colder Water to the surface, as it is a little lighter than the 4 degree cold deep water. If the water then becomes ice during frost, the specific weight changes drastically. 1000 liters of ice then weighs only 918 kilograms and therefore floats on the heavier still liquid water!

In general one can say that everything that is heavier than water sinks, while everything that is lighter floats. Ice is therefore lighter in specific gravity than water and therefore floats on puddles and lakes. And why does ice form first on the edges of the lake and not in the middle? Quite simply: Because the shallower bank zones cool down faster and therefore ice can form faster than in the deeper middle of the lake.

I hope that I could bring a little light into the ice darkness and now everyone knows why ice cubes float in the drink 😉

Glückauf from Bochum


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