Science project

Don't Have a Meltdown!

Difficulty of the Project



$15.00- $20.00

Safety Issues

Some of the materials may be irritating to the eyes or skin. Those with sensitive skin should wear gloves. Be sure to wash hands after the experimental set-up so that nothing accidently gets wiped into the eyes!

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

5 days


The purpose of this project is to determine what effect substances have on ice, and which of these products most effectively melts ice. The goal of the project is to develop an understanding of why people living in colder areas use substances like salt to take care of icy walkways. Through experimentation the student will build a framework towards understanding science concepts such as temperature, freezing point and melting point.

Materials and Equipment/Ingredients

All materials are readily available at home and from the grocery or hardware store.

  • 6 Glass jars or beakers
  • Ice cubes
  • Salt
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Sugar
  • Sand
  • Commercial ice melt mixture
  • Measuring spoons
  • Masking tape or labels
  • 6 Large yogurt tubs or other plastic recycled containers
  • Measuring cups
  • Freezer
  • Thermometer 


Many people live in areas where snow and ice removal can mean the difference between going to school and enjoying a snow day at home. Melting ice from walkways and roads not only is a safety issue, but also a city/town funding issue and an environmental issue. Many students may not be aware of the process of treating roads and walkways to prevent ice build up but it is a real world problem. Concepts such as melting point and freezing point of water and other substances might be too advanced for an elementary student, but the project scaffolds these science ideas so that they are well equipped to understand them in the future.

Terms, Concepts and Questions for Background Research

Phases of matter: liquid, solid, gas, melting, freezing, freezing point, melting point, temperature, variable

  • At what temperature does water freeze?
  • At what temperature does ice melt?
  • What substances do people use to melt ice on walkways and roads?
  • What ingredients are in the ice melt mixture that we buy at the hardware store?

Experimental Procedure

  1. Use the tape or labels to label the beakers or glass jars A, B, C, D, E and F
  2. Put an ice cube in each jar.
  3. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of Salt in jar A.
  4. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of Calcium Chloride in jar B.
  5. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of Sand in jar C.
  6. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of Sugar in jar D.
  7. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of ice melt mixture in jar E.
  8. Do not sprinkle anything on the ice cube in jar F.
  9. Use the thermometer to take the temperature of the room. Write down the temperature.
  10. Observe the jars for an hour. You may wish to take photographs throughout the observation time to use to present your science project.
  11. Write down a describing word for each ice cube every 15 minutes. Keep track of your observations in a chart like the one below.
  12. At the end of one hour rank your ice cubes 1-6 from least melted to most melted in a chart like the one below.
  13. For the second part of your experiment fill the yogurt tubs with 3 cups of water.
  14. Put the yogurt tubs in the freezer.
  15. Put a thermometer in the freezer to measure the temperature.
  16. Leave the tubs alone until frozen (24 hours)
  17. Write down the temperature on the thermometer.
  18. When the water in the tubs is frozen try the experiment again by sprinkling 2 Tablespoons of each substance on the ice. Be sure to label your tubs!
  19. Put the tubs back in the freezer.
  20. The next day make an observation of each tub.
  21. Write down the observations in a chart like the one below.
  22. Compare your observations of the ice cubes with the ice in the yogurt tubs. How were these experiments the same or different? Which substance worked the best to melt the ice?
Observation 1
Observation 2
Observation 3
Observation 4
least melted
most melted
Yogurt Tub


Bayrock, Fiona. States of Matter: A Question and Answer Book. Capstone Press, 2007.

Science and Technology Department Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The Handy Science Answer Book. Visible Ink Press, 2002

Disclaimer and Safety Precautions provides the Science Fair Project Ideas for informational purposes only. does not make any guarantee or representation regarding the Science Fair Project Ideas and is not responsible or liable for any loss or damage, directly or indirectly, caused by your use of such information. By accessing the Science Fair Project Ideas, you waive and renounce any claims against that arise thereof. In addition, your access to's website and Science Fair Project Ideas is covered by's Privacy Policy and site Terms of Use, which include limitations on's liability.

Warning is hereby given that not all Project Ideas are appropriate for all individuals or in all circumstances. Implementation of any Science Project Idea should be undertaken only in appropriate settings and with appropriate parental or other supervision. Reading and following the safety precautions of all materials used in a project is the sole responsibility of each individual. For further information, consult your state's handbook of Science Safety.

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