Which Cup Best Prevents Ice from Melting?

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Updated on May 22, 2013

The type of cup that you choose can greatly affect the life of your ice. Understanding how different materials act as insulators can help you make educated decisions in your choice of cups or coolers for transporting cold substances.


Which type of cup is best for preventing ice from melting?


  • Styrofoam, plastic and paper disposable cups of equal size
  • Ice cubes
  • Timer
  • Beaker/measuring cup
  • Small colander


  1. Place three ice cubes in the Styrofoam cup.
  2. Allow the cup to sit at room temperature for twenty minutes.
  3. Place the colander over the beaker or measuring cup and pour in the cup contents. Only the water should fall into the measuring device. The ice should remain in the colander.
  4. Record the amount of water that was in the cup. Discard the cup contents.
  5. Repeat the same experiment using the paper and plastic cups. Be certain that all of your cups and all of your ice cubes are of a uniform size and shape. Using ice from trays or an icemaker allows for uniformity. Do not use crushed ice. Ensure that you place all of the cups in the same location at the same room temperature.
  6. Analyze your data. Which cup had the most water after twenty minutes? What is the relationship between the amount of water in the cup and the ice? Will the best insulator have more or less water than the other cups? Which cup material is best for preventing ice from melting?

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