Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A Weird Ice Spike

As I've written about before, since moving to Salem, Oregon I get a lot of ice spikes in my ice cube trays. (Then I wrote about ice spikes for Physics World magazine; I'm especially proud of the article's title!) They keep showing up, maybe twice a month -- and I only refill my ice cube trays about once a week, if that, so they show up on a fair precentage of newly filled trays.

Today I found the most needle-like spike yet:





4 comments:

C Jarzbek said...

Find out first if the particular make and model of your refrigerator/freezer has the "frost free" feature. You might find that the timing of the cycle that removes the excess frost coincidences with the growth of the "spikes" as they may be drips of liquid water falling off the sides of the freezer.

David in Cal said...

I agree with C Jarzbek. Suspect there's a particular spot directly above the ice cube tray where water tends to drip during the defrost cycle. Then the ice spike builds up like a stalagmite in a cave.

David Appell said...

No, there is no liquid water in my freezer, that I've ever noticed all this time.


Logicpath said...

If there were drip, the spike would be very blunt. The spike is really like a frozen geyser. After the initial freeze of the top, a small opening lets freezing water out from below. It's under pressure since ice expands when freezing. Since the top freezes first, like a pond does, the cube can seal off the liquid below. As the liquid freezes, pressure builds. Probably a piece of dust provides a weak spot for the water geyser. If not, the cube eventually pushes up as a whole, overcoming the friction of the seal on the sides, and no spike forms.