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Why does ice float on water?

Everyone must have once placed ice in a drink and have seen ice floating on it. Ever thought why does it float being solid form of water?

Water – It is something so simple that we rarely think about it. However, there is nothing more mysterious than plain water. The biggest mystery of water is what we are discussing here i.e. why ice floats? Any other material, passing from liquid to solid, it becomes more difficult, since the density of the substance increases. But it doesn’t happen with water!!

In simple words, ice floats in water because it is lighter then water because of its intermolecular forces (Almost 9% less dense). The molecules are combined in a pyramid structure arising free space in between due to which frozen water takes up more space than liquid. Therefore ice floats on the surface and not sink to the bottom.

In the structure of the water ice particles are arranged very orderly, with lots of space between the particles. The volume of ice is larger than the volume of water from which it was formed. Volume is greater whereas density goes less which makes it float and does not sink. For similar reason huge blocks of ice, “icebergs” – do not sink in the water.

Tip of the Iceberg --- Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS
Tip of the Iceberg — Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS

Again when the ice turns into water again, the particles present go 1000 times active and free space created during solid state gets filled.

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