Supercool Supercooling

I am looking at the properties of water needed to cool it below freezing point but maintaining its liquid form.
Avery Steinke
Grade 6


If  a person supercools different types of water then distilled water will be the only one to maintain liquid form below zero degrees celsius  because there is not a nucleus for crystallization.



During my research I became inspired to learn what properties are needed to supercool water. This matters because understanding water, which covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface, is critical to understanding how it regulates our environment, our bodies and life.


What is supercooling?

Supercooling is the process of cooling a liquid below its freezing point, which in this case is water so we are going to cool water below 0 degrees, without it becoming a solid. A liquid below its freezing point will make crystals/become clear and real in the presence of a seed crystal or center (of a cell or atom) around which a crystal structure can form. 


Now why does supercooling happen?

Supercooling happens because when the water/liquid cools below its freezing point it freezes but if it has no impurities the atoms will have nothing to grab onto so it will not freeze but the second the water has an impurity like dirt or if it gets shaken it will instantly freeze.


Now what is snap freezing?

 Snap freezing is when supercooled water has an impurity so it freezes before you can snap your fingers. 


Future of supercooling

Supercooling has many applications and areas for further research.  Here are some examples of how supercooling works in the real world:

 Supercooling water will help in studying climate in the future.  Research on cloud formation in the arctic and the supercooling of water in those clouds will help to increase understanding on climate change and global warming.

Arctic ground squirrels' body temperatures drop as low as -2.9 degrees Celsius. Although the core temperature drops to almost three degrees below the freezing point of water, ground squirrel blood remains liquid, probably from supercooling.

Research into extreme cold adaptations is important to humans for a variety of reasons. If we can understand, and harness, the ability to freeze and unfreeze organs and tissues, it could improve the preservation of organs and increase the success of organ transplants.

The argument matters because understanding water, which covers 71 percent of the Earth's surface, is critical to understanding how it regulates our environment, our bodies and life.

These studies may also help understand how liquid water can exist on very cold planets -- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- in our solar system, and beyond. Supercooled water vapor also creates the beautiful tails that trail behind comets.



Manipulated Variable

type of water


Responding Variable

the state of the water below zero degrees Celsius


Controlled Variable

cooling method

amount of salt used  in cooling bath

amount of ice used in cooling bath

amount of water used in cooling bath

same thermometer used for testing

container used for cooling bath

container used for each of the water types

amount of water in small container for supercooling




  1. Gather materials 
  2. Cut a circle from the cardboard to use as a cover for the plastic cup.
  3. Pour a small amount of chosen water into a clean plastic cup (enough to fill about 1/4 of the cup) and place the cup in the center of the bowl.
  4. Cover the cup, then add ice cubes to the bowl, so that the ice is about 2–3 times higher than the level of water in the cup. Be careful not to get any ice inside the cup.
  5. Sprinkle two tablespoons of salt over the ice cubes. Be careful not to get any salt inside the cup.
  6. Uncover the cup and put the thermometer inside.
  7. Monitor the temperature of the water. Over the next 30 minutes or so, you should see the temperature slowly decrease. Keep track of the time and temperature in a spreadsheet.














  1. When the temperature of the water reaches −1 to −3 °C or so, carefully remove the cup from the ice bath.
  2. Record observations of water state
  3. Repeat the procedure, testing different types of water to see whether it can be supercooled before freezing. Test the following types of water:
  4. bottled distilled water
  5. bottled spring water
  6. plain tap water
  7. boiled tap water that's been cooled to room temperature



Time (Mins.) Temp (ºC) Observations Time (Mins.) Temp (ºC) Observations Time (Mins.) Temp (ºC) Observations Time (Mins.) Temp (ºC) Observations
0 19.7 water 0 19.1 water 0 18.9 water 0 19.6 water
2 13.6 water 2 7.0 water 2 13.8 water 2 3.0 water
4 11.5 water 4 3.2 water 4 11.3 water 4 1.6 water
6 9.6 water 6 2.8 water 6 9.7 water 6 1.2 water
8 7.6 water 8 2.5 water 8 8.1 water 8 1.2 water
10 6.1 water 10 2.5 water 10 6.1 water 10 1.2 water
12 4.6 water 12 2.5 water 12 4.6 water 12 1.2 water
14 3.3 water 14 1.6 water 14 2.3 water 14 1.2 water
16 2.4 water 16 1.2 water 16 1.7 water 16 1.2 water
18 2.4 water 18 0.2 water 18 1.2 water 18 0.6 slush
20 2.0 water 20 -0.4 water 20 1.2 water 20 0.6 frozen
22 2.0 water 22 -1.2 water 22 1.2 water 22 0.1 frozen
24 2.0 water 24 -1.2 water 24 1.2 water 24 0.1 frozen
26 2.0 water 26 -2.1 water 26 1.2 water 26 0.1 frozen
28 1.7 water 28 -2.1 water 28 0.7 water 28 -0.1 frozen
30 1.7 water 30 -2.9 water 30 0.1 water 30 -0.1 frozen
32 1.3 water 32     32 -0.5 water 32 -0.1 frozen
34 0.3 slush 34     34 -1.1 water 34 -0.1 frozen
36 -0.7 ice 36     36 -1.8 water 36 -0.1 frozen
38 -1.1 ice 38     38 -2.4 water 38 -0.1 frozen
40     40     40 -2.7 water 40 -0.1 frozen


It can be inferred that spring and distilled water can be supercooled because of the absence of a nucleus for crystalization. Most of the data was expected but the supercooling of the spring water was unexpected because of the mineral content in the water.Spring water that goes through the bottling process, as in this case, has been purified in some way(  Bottled spring water can also be supercooled due to its lack of a nucleus.This experiment confirmed that distilled water can be supercooled. 


I wanted to look at what types of water could be supercooled.  When cooling different types of water I found that bottled spring and distilled water temperature can be brought below water's freezing point while maintaining liquid form. My hypothesis was partially correct. The distilled water supercooled as expected but spring water also supercooled and that was unexpected. If I were to do this experiment again I would use spring water directly from the source and not bottled. A new question that comes to mind is, can you supercool other liquids and do they need to be purified? 



Water makes up 71% of the earth's surface so it is important to understand its capabilities. There are many applications to supercooling water. Areas in which research of supercooling is currently helping can be found in climate change, animal hibernation and planet exploration.  The most interesting and important to our everyday life is in medical research. Research into extreme cold adaptations is important to humans. If scientists can understand and harness the ability to freeze and unfreeze organs and tissues, it could improve the preservation of organs and potentially increase the success of organ transplants.

Sources Of Error

A change that I should make next time is using water directly from a spring instead of bottled spring water as one of my manipulated variables.  This is because the bottled spring water still goes through a minor distillation process. I did not realize this initially. The bottling process effects the supercooling process because when it has been distilled it has no particles for a seed crystal to form.


Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). Supercooling Water and Snap Freezing. Retrieved from

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, January 15). Supercooling. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:06, January 22, 2021, from


Maggie Romuld. (2016, December 21). Cryoproteins and Supercooling: How Some Animals Survive Bitter Winter Temperatures. Retrieved from


DOE/Pacific Northwest National Labratory. (2020, September 17). Supercooled Water is a Stable Liquid, Scientists Show For the First Time. Retrieved from


Canadian Beverage Association. Retrieved 11:28, March 6, 2021, from 


I would like to thank my Mom for all the help and support she gave me with the experiment. I would also like to thank my teacher, Mr. Kurtz, for his instruction and guidance. Finally, I would like to thank my Dad for helping me with formatting and editing my video.