Nicholas Academy

Custom Search

Science | Science Experiment of the Week 4 | 250 - Water, Oil and Ice, Oh My

Density, Ice Floats in Oil when Water Sinks - Explore the world of density. This is a very useful science, important for many things from boats to hot air balloons.

This Week's Experiment - #250 Water, Oil and Ice, Oh My

These experiments are from Robert Krampf - The Happy Scientist

This week, we are going to explore the world of density. This is a very useful science, important for many things from boats to hot air balloons. You will need:

a tall, clear drinking glass
cooking oil

Fill the glass almost full of cooking oil. I found that cheap, vegetable oil worked very well. Canola oil did not work at all, as it was not dense enough. Place the glass of oil on a flat surface and then gently add an ice cube. The ice should float. If it does not, try using a different kind of oil.

Now comes the interesting part. Oil floats on top of water and ice floats on top of oil. What will happen when the ice begins to melt? Watch a minute or two and you will see.

What happens? As the ice begins to melt, you will see a drop of water hanging from the bottom of the ice cube. As the drop grows, the ice cube will float lower, as it is being weighted down by the denser water. Finally, the drop gets large enough to pull free of the ice and it slowly sinks to the bottom of the glass.

Water is a strange chemical. Most liquids get smaller when they freeze, which means the solid form is denser. When water freezes, it gets larger. It still weighs the same, but it takes up more space, which means it is less dense. That is why ice floats in water, and in the oil. If something is denser than water (or in this case, oil), it sinks. If it is less dense than the liquid, it floats. As the ice melts, the water takes up less space, becoming denser, and the denser drops of water sink to the bottom of the glass.

After the ice had all melted, I tried reversing the process by putting the glass of oil and water in the freezer. I was hoping that I would find a lump of ice floating on top of the oil. Instead, the lump of ice was at the bottom. As the water began to freeze, the surface tension of the water was strong enough to keep the ice from rising up through the oil. Soon, it froze to the side of the glass and then was firmly trapped at the bottom. I did manage to gently warm the glass and get the ice to come free and float to the top. If you try that, be sure to warm the glass slowly, so it does not crack. Why would it crack? For that, you will either have to do some research or wait until next week's experiment.

Science Experiments:
211 - 220 | 221 - 230 | 231 - 240 | 241 - 250 | 251 - 260 | 261 - 270
271 - 280 | 281 - 290 | 291 - 300 | 301 - 310 | 311 - 320 | 321 - 330 | 331 - 340

Education Posters at | Clearance Posters

Nicholas Academy Index


Roman numerals, multiplication, state and world capitals, order of presidents, chemical elements, parts of speech, Spanish numbers, plus more.


Explore animation, filmmaking, build online cities, create works of art, write stories, create your own web site.


Math quizzes, printable charts and flashcards, math tools. Multiplication, roman numerals, fractions, addition, more.


Science games and quizzes, posters, science experiments.

Social Studies

Posters, printables, the Lifeboat Game, college essays, fifty states resources, educational quizzes for presidents, capitals, flags.


Test your knowledge with these fast, fun, and educational quizzes. Roman numeral addition, world capitals, presidents in order, the elements, world flags, and more.

Educational Posters

Parts of speech, civil rights, medieval, periodic table of elements, music, astronomy, world maps with flags, literature, poetry, biology.

Science Experiments

Science can be fun and understandable. Free Experiment of the Week, featuring experiments that are unusual, safe, dramatic, cheap, and fun. From Robert Kramp's Science Education Co.

Middle Age & Renaissance

Artists, wars, armour, castle games, recipes, geography, quizzes, fashions, pictures of weapons, music, old world maps, women of medieval times, medicine, language, and more.

Useful Tools

Reading systems, loan programs, flashcard, worksheet and test makers, game creators, board games, percentage calculator, puzzle creator, timeline template.

Language Arts

Alphabet flash cards, English and Literature and Lord of the Rings posters, printable parts of speech chart.


Fun learning activities, games, lessons and quizzes. Eartraining software, music theory and history, music posters, guitar posters.


Free online courses, including grade school and accredited high school, online public schools, computer internet course, foundational phonics, more.

Foreign Language

Spanish and Korean resources - printable flash cards for numbers and the alphabet, Korean keyboard chart.

Storage - Alextown

Temporary home to Alextown - a site created for my son. Maille armor pictures, ninja pictures, more.

Science Experiment #250 - Water, Oil and Ice, Oh My - Explore the world of density.

If you have comments, questions, or would like to report a broken link,
please send an email to Cheryl at

© 2000-2015 Nicholas Academy
Nicholas Academy Site Map
privacy policy