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Hot Water Freezes Faster than Cold Water

December 6, 2018

Below we discuss why hot water freezes faster than cold water. Sometimes we can assist you with fixing your plumbing or draining problems with a simple phone call. If you need help at all, you can give us a call at 757-245-0112. We are your plumbing and drain specialists and can fix all your plumbing and drain issues! 




The Mpemba Effect


The phenomenon of hot water freezing faster than cold water is known as the Mpemba effect. The Mpemba effect is a process in which hot water can freeze faster than cold water. The phenomenon is temperature-dependent.


There are five proposed mechanisms for what's going on here:


  1. Frost melting: Frost is an insulator, and so frosty cold water might keep its heat better than a warm beaker that melts the frost off its sides.

  2. Dissolved gasses: There are more dissolved gasses in cold water than warm water, and researchers have predicted that this could play a role in cooling rates, although it's not clear how. 

  3. Supercooling: We all know that water freezes at zero degrees Celsius, but sometimes it gets a lot colder before it freezes - a phenomenon known as supercooling. This occurs because ice needs a nucleation site, such as an air bubble or impurity in the water in order to form. So maybe warm water experiences less supercooling than cold water.

  4. Evaporation: The hot water beaker loses more water molecules through evaporation, so there's less of it to freeze.

  5. Convection: Finally, there's the idea that warm water might cool faster due to increased convection currents. These currents occur because water cools primarily from its surface and the sides of the beaker, causing cold water to sink and warm water to rise up and take its place. The currents are greater in warm beakers, and could affect cooling rates. 





When conditions are just right – if the hot beaker is the right amount hotter than the cold beaker and its molecules are wayward enough to generate high kurtosis – the model simulation shows that the hotter sample will cool faster than the colder one.












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