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Will 2l of water freeze faster in A SMALL or large container?

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Get your watch out and time it!

This is a "trick question" in how it is framed!

The thing with water is this: A Container with water will not solidify until all the water in the container reaches the freezing point of 32 degrees F.

So the clue is this;

 It depends on how fast the temp of the bulk fluid can be lowered.

 If more of the fluid is exposed to the means of cooling, the fluids temp can be lowered quicker.

 This implies that if the surface area of the water is large; then more heat can be removed from it, in the same amount of time, as compared to when the exposed surface area is smaller!

So if the "Larger" container spreads the water out over a larger area, cylindrical or cubical, thereby exposing a larger surface area for the water (maximizing its surface area),  then it can freeze faster then if the container minimizes the exposed surface area of the water, i.e., a spherically shaped container.

So, at the surface of the earth because of gravity, a container having greater height and greater volume, but the same flat base area(circular or square) will not make any difference. Just because it is a larger container is not what's at stake.

Whats at stake is how does the given container control the surface area of the fluid it contains!

If the container has a larger base area, even if it has the same volume, then it will give the water a larger surface area, exposing more of the water to the cooling mechanisim!

So, the bottom line is that it depends not on the volume of the container, but on the surface area of the container! In this sense of the word "Large"

Finally, the answer is this; 2 liters of water will freeze faster in container that maximizes the surface area, the volume being the same.

In any case, be sure the volume of the container is a bit larger than the volume of liquid water that it contains!


There are many variables in that question.  In heat transfer, the material used to make the container has the largest affect.  The resistance of the material determines the rate.  It is stated as btu/hr/degree F/area or square foot.

The larger the surface area, the faster it will transfer - assuming the temperature difference and material is constant.  If the area at the top of the bottle has air in it, the air will act as an insulator.

If your container is sized so that there is no or minimal air in it, it will transmit the heat fastest.  A sphere has the least surface area for a given volume, so a long tube would allow it to freeze faster.  The configuration of the container is the controlling factor.

There are no problems - only unsurrmounted opportunities

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