Colored Ice Experiment #42: Food Dye & Salt

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 09 February, 2014

"Can you add color to the ice?" is a question that I have heard countless times. My reaction tends to be, "Of course, but the results may not be as vibrant as you would like. Why?

This is a good question, so I decided to do a few experiments with color additives and document the results.

The first of my color experiment will be exploring the use food dye and the inclusion of salt to the water to increase the saturation of the color.

PROBLEM: Because pure water freezes first and impurities, extra gasses and minerals are pushed out, a colorant would be pushed toward the center of the Globe Ice Lantern Balloon. When the balloon is removed and the water is released, most of the colorant is expelled. That means most of the color goes with the water and the color of the ice is light or unsaturated.

QUESTION: When salt is added to the water, the temperature at which the water in the balloon will freeze is lowered. This will also affect the appearance of the ice--it becomes whiter. So my question is, will saltier water hold more of the color additives while it freezes?

SOLUTION: From the experiments performed, it appears that when salt is added to the water, more of the colorant is frozen into the ice.

NEXT EXPERIMENT: Gatorade vs Jello vs Kool-Aid vs Food Dye as colorants - which is best?


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