Colligative Properties

Icy Brinicle of Death: A COOL Example of Freezing Point Depression

What real world examples are made known to students when discussing freezing point depression? What about brinicles, also known as "Icy Fingers of Death"? A brinicle (from brine + ice) is a finger-like formation of supercooled brine solution that grows downward underneath sea ice. Intrigued? Cool (pun intended). Keep reading to find out more!

Colligative Properties in Real Life

This year in the midwest United States, winter has been a fickle friend. I haven’t seen the same amount of snow or ice as in recent years, but I still made sure I was prepared for it at our home. I went to my local big box hardware store in December and contemplated buying rock salt (NaCl), and NaCl/calcium chloride mixture, or just calcium chloride. Growing up my dad had switched entirely to calcium chloride because it was less damaging to the brick pavers leading to our porch and backyard. In fact, calcium chloride is generally much safer toward plants and soil than NaCl. Even though calcium chloride is much more expensive than rock salt (it was about twice the cost for 10 pounds more), that what’s I chose. Why?

An After-Dinner Trick

In this Activity, students investigate a classic chemistry demonstration that uses the phenomenon of freezing-point depression to lift an ice cube out of a glass of water with a thread. They first test how adding salt, pepper, cream, and sugar to cold water affects the temperature.