What materials best insulate an ice science project?

Written by angela baird
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What materials best insulate an ice science project?
Ice melts quickly without proper insulation. (ice image by michanolimit from Fotolia.com)

A science project made of ice is a temporary and delicate creation, subject to rapid melting. Whether it is a simple ice cube or an elaborate sculpture, you need to know how to keep it intact for the duration of the project. While a freezer works best, it can be difficult to fit in the car, or may not hold a classroom's worth of projects. A few commonly available materials can help preserve the integrity of your ice science project.

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While it may seem obvious, a cooler is a great tool for a single project. If the projects are small, you may even be able to fit a few in the cooler, depending on the size of the project and the cooler you choose. Styrofoam and nylon-type coolers are adequate for short durations. Plastic coolers are most effective for keeping ice over longer periods.


Purchase a roll of foil insulation at the hardware store. While meant for insulating homes, this foil material with a bubble wrap filling does a good job of protecting ice. Depending on your project's size and shape, you can cut and make bags out of the insulation, or wrap the insulation around the project. You also can cut pieces to line your cooler for added protection.


Regardless of your method for freezing your science project, surrounding it with cold is the best way to keep it from melting. You can use plain ice cubes packed in plastic zipper bags, or bottles of frozen water or juice. Blocks of ice take longer to melt than cubes. Dry ice is also available, but requires adult supervision while handling. Packing materials like styrofoam, or even balloons inflated slightly and placed tightly between the project and the sides of the container offer a great deal insulation.

Special Considerations

Take the weather into consideration when choosing your ice preservation method. Hot climates and sunny warm days require more preparation and cooling than a snowy or blustery winter's day. Lowering the heat or cranking the AC in your home, classroom or car can make a difference in the lifespan of ice science projects.

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