When it comes to easy science activities for toddlers and preschoolers, melting frozen “ice hands” with salt is a winner! Freeze colourful ice hands overnight and let the kids melt them with this delightful preschool chemistry activity. It’s perfect indoors or outdoors at any time of the year.
For those of you who have never done a salt and ice activity with your kids, you have to try it! The hooligans love it when we set out to melt ice with salt. We do it at least once a year, and it always holds their attention until every last bit of ice has been dissolved or turned to mush. Not only is it engaging and fun, a salt and ice activity is a chemistry lesson that never fails to impress kids of all ages.
How Does Salt Melt Ice?
Fill your kids in on the science behind this activity. Explain to them that salt doesn’t actually melt ice. Salt simply lowers the freezing point of water. This is what causes the melting. And then, as the ice melts, that water mixes with the salt, which results in the ice sitting in a puddle of salty water. This continues to speed up the melting.
If you don’t have rubber gloves:
No rubber gloves? Try these salt and ice experiments with your kids:
Kids who love Disney’s Frozen will love our “Melting Elsa’s Frozen Hands” experiment.
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Supplies & Materials:
Prep the hands:
- Fill a glove with water. Leave yourself a couple of inches at the top because you’re going to have to twist it shut.
- Add a drop or two of food colouring, and shake the glove to disperse the colour.
- Twist glove tightly a couple of times and secure snugly with a twist-tie.
- Lay glove in baking pan. (the pan will catch any water in the even that a glove leaks.
- Place pan in freezer overnight, or if outside temps are cold enough, place the gloves outside overnight like I did.
I really didn’t have a plan for the hands at first. I simply set them out in the sandbox early one winter morning, knowing the hooligans would discover them when we went outside to play.
How to remove the glove:
You can see that some of the ice fingers broke when I was removing the latex gloves. The trick to preventing the fingers from snapping off is to run the gloved hand under a bit of cool water, and very gently slide the glove off.
Take your time when you’re working on the fingers. You may have to drip a bit of water into the glove, but be careful not to melt the fingers with the water.
When the kids discovered the colourful frozen hands sitting in the sand, they were a little puzzled, and not sure what to do with them, so they loaded them into a basket and brought them up to the back deck. It was then that I thought to get the salt.
How To Do The Experiment:
- colourful ice hands
- a shallow pan, container or tray to put your icy hands in
- salt (I used driveway salt, but table salt would work as well)
- bowl to hold your salt
- scoops and spoons
I placed the hands in a foil baking pan and filled a separate plastic dish with driveway salt. I supplied the hooligans with a few scoops and spoons. The kids got to work sprinkling the salt on the hands. As the ice melted, the salty water pooled in the bottom of the pan, and they were able to scoop that all over the hands to speed up the melting process.
They were fascinated to see that the ice started melting as they added the salt. It was really cool to see the cracks and crevices that formed and to watch the hands dissolve as they added more and more salt.
This is an activity that could easily be done inside, and if you’re looking for a way to give your hooligans even more of a mission, add some buttons, beads and other small toys to the gloves like we did with our haunted halloween hands. Your children will work until they’ve released all of the goodies from the ice!
More Salt Experiments and Salt Activities for Kids:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.