It’s spring and with the warmer weather there comes the request that all mom’s dread. “Mom! Can I have a freezie?!? And some for my 20 0r so friends who’ve followed me home today?”
First off, freezies in my house are usually 100% juice, except DH decided he would do the shopping at the end of the summer and came home with a giant box of jumbo, artificially flavoured, synthetic liquid. They made their way down to our freezer once I rolled my eyes and reminded myself once again that DH, being male, is not capable of making healthy food choices when confronted by puppy dog eyes and tragic pleas from our two daughters.
In the grand scheme of things, freezies aren’t *that* bad. There are probably thousands of worse snacks, but given how hard it is to get my kids to eat healthy, I’d rather avoid snacks that are essentially sugar and chemicals.
But I digress.
As soon as the snow was gone and the sun finally graced the GTA with its presence, the aforementioned scene took place in our front yard. The crowd of kids meant that I could get rid of the junkie freezies sooner than I thought and could soon replace them with the healthier, 100% juice versions. Imagine my surprise when these things actually served a purpose and we were able to hold an impromptu Physics class in our driveway.
Here’s what happened.
DH brought the box from the basement freezer and opened it for the first time in front of all the kids. The kids, being kids, all wanted the same flavour of freezie, prompting him to have to go digging. What he found in the middle of the box were some freezies that were still liquid despite being in the freezer for the last 8 months. When he pulled these freezies out he squeezed the contents and they immediately began to freeze, crystallizing before our eyes. Because the freezies were coloured, we were able to get a really good idea how water crystallizes whilst freezing.
Why did this happen?
Anyone who’s ever tried to quickly chill a can of pop or a bottle of water in the freezer and had to clean the catastrophe once they remembered where they put the container knows that water expands when it freezes. What happened in our freezies’ case was that they were so tightly packed in their box, the packages in the middle didn’t have room to expand as they froze. In essence, they were forced to stay liquid due to the surrounding outside pressure and became super-cool fluid. When the box was opened and the surrounding freezies pulled out, the pressure was released, allowing the water inside the plastic tubes to expand and the contents to freeze right in front of our eyes.
How can I do this at home?
Your best bet is to buy a box of freezies, open it to see how much room there is around the individual packages. Stuff the spaces with plastic bags or newspaper to get them packed in there as tightly as you can. Then re-seal the box, taping the lid closed as tightly as you can. Then, put the box in the bottom of your chest freeze, wedging it in a corner. Surround the box with frozen whatever, remembering to put lots of weight on top. You don’t want to give the freezies in the middle any room to expand and solidify. Wait until the next sunny day, pull them out and quickly see what’s up with the freezies in the middle. Hopefully they will still be liquid. Give the plastic tubes a squeeze or a shake to kick start the process and watch them freeze before your eyes.
So, DH’s impulse buy wasn’t that much of a disaster after all. It allowed us to demonstrate a major scientific concept – the phase transition of matter from liquid to solid form to the neighborhood kids.
But if he thinks that means he’s going to be able to buy those nutritionally challenged treats on a regular basis, he’s got another thing coming.