(WFRV) – It’s not uncommon in the winter to see the snow-covered, icy streets being salted to protect pedestrians and drivers.

However, what makes ice melt the fastest: salt, sugar, baking soda, cold water, or hot water?

Do it yourself experiment

The materials you will need for this experiment:

  • six Dixie cups
  • hot water, about 120 F (enough to fill half a muffin tray compartment)
  • cold water, about 45 F (enough to fill half a muffin tray compartment)
  • a muffin tray
  • spoonful of salt
  • spoonful of sugar
  • spoonful a baking soda 
  1. Fill the six small Dixie cups with water of equal amounts
  2. Place the cups in the freezer
  3. Once the water has frozen in the freezer, empty each cup of ice into each compartment of the tray
  4. Add the amounts above of hot water, cold water, salt, sugar, and baking soda to separate compartments of the muffin tray. Leave once ice cube alone as the control variable.
  5. Let them sit!

What melted the fastest?

In this experiment, the salt and warm water melted the ice at relatively the same time. You can change this result, by adding more salt or heating the water up even further!

What can you not change?

The same amount of salt, baking soda, and sugar added into separate solutions will tend to yield the same result. Salt will always melt ice quicker than both of them. This is because in the same amount or volume, there are more molecules of salt than sugar or baking soda due to the chemical make-up.

Salt, baking soda, and sugar will all act to lower the freezing point of the ice, making it melt quicker than the untouched ice cube.  

Sand is another common substance that may be seen on the roadway. In fact, it is not used to melt ice, but rather for traction for shoes or cars.