Wednesday, May 29, 2013 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Big Ice Cubes

I was hoping Dr. Drang would weigh in on this:

In some cases, they go beyond just saying that big cubes melt slower and also claim that they do so while cooling your drink just as much. These claims should be looked upon with a gimlet eye, because the cubes’ melting is what does the cooling.

No question, some of the cooling comes from raising the temperature of the ice from below freezing up to the melting point. But that’s small beer. The specific heat of ice (0.50 cal/g-K) is only about half that of water (and about equal to that of ethanol), so raising the temperature of ice does little to lower the temperature of your drink. The significant cooling comes from ice’s heat of fusion, which is a whopping 80 cal/g. This is what pulls heat out of your drink and lowers its temperature.

That said, I like the idea of The Sweethome.

2 Comments

My understanding has always been that smaller chunks of ice got the beverage cold faster, but big chunks kept it cold longer. Something to do with the larger surface area of smaller pieces...

@chris Most of the energy required for cooling is done from the transition from ice to water, so the speed at which ice can cool the beverage depends on how much ice you can melt at once. Indeed the larger surface area means faster cooling. As to how big chunks keep it cold longer, I am not so sure. To keep it cold longer, you just need a larger total volume of ice. Maybe a big cube packs the ice more efficiently than several small chunks.

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