Previous: 3 Terrible Old-Timey Ways to (Not) Lose Weight
Next: The Future Of Back To The Future



View count:703,952
Last sync:2024-01-20 14:45


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "Does Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold Water?" YouTube, uploaded by SciShow, 20 October 2015,
MLA Inline: (SciShow, 2015)
APA Full: SciShow. (2015, October 20). Does Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold Water? [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (SciShow, 2015)
Chicago Full: SciShow, "Does Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold Water?", October 20, 2015, YouTube, 02:33,
Does hot water freeze faster than cold water? Turns out, the answer to this question is a lot trickier than it seems!

Hosted by: Michael Aranda
Dooblydoo thanks go to the following Patreon supporters -- we couldn't make SciShow without them! Shout out to Justin Ove, Justin Lentz, David Campos, Philippe von Bergen, Chris Peters, Lilly Grainger, Happy Birthday!!, and Fatima Iqbal.
Like SciShow? Want to help support us, and also get things to put on your walls, cover your torso and hold your liquids? Check out our awesome products over at DFTBA Records:

Or help support us by becoming our patron on Patreon:
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?

[Sci Show intro music]

[Michael] Here's a scientific mystery for you - does hot water freeze faster than cold water?

The answer is...we don't know.

You're probably thinking, how can we not know?  I mean, we've all got water, most of us have a freezer.  This seems like a pretty simple experiment.

Well you're right.  It is.  It also isn't.

The experiment has been performed by brilliant people all over the world.  And in those experiments, sometimes hot water freezes faster than cold water.  And sometimes it doesn't.  And either way, the results of the experiment are not reproducible.

The observation that hot water will freeze faster than cold water is called the Mpemba Effect.  It's named after Erasto Mpemba who noticed the effect in 1963 when he was just 13 years old and making ice cream with his classmates.

He noticed the ice cream mixture made with hot milk froze faster than the mixture made with cold milk.  However, he wasn't the first person to make this claim.  

Aristotle said the same thing in the year four BCE just, you know, not about ice cream.  Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon also believed hot water froze faster than cold water.

But scientists aren't convinced the Mpemba Effect is actually a thing.  

Here's the problem - when you have any two samples of water, that's just ordinary tap water, one of them will ALWAYS freeze first.  And that's because the mixture of impurities in the water will be slightly different.

The differences in composition, size, and position of those impurities can make the freezing point of water vary by several degrees.  Hot tap water will freeze before cold distilled water if you control for all other conditions because impurities in the tap water means that it just freezes at a higher temperature.

In that case, the hot water does freeze first, but not because it's hot.  If the Mpemba Effect is a thing and warmer water really does freeze faster, there are a lot of theories for why that might happen.

Evaporation is the simplest and probably best one.  Some of the hot water will evaporate as it cools, meaning there's just less water to freeze, so it doesn't take as much time.  

But the Mpemba Effect has been observed while using sealed containers, which prevented evaporated water from escaping.  Other researchers who have looked into the Mpemba Effect claim it has to do with convection currents - the way water moves around as it heats.  

Or covalent bonds or how hot water holds less dissolved gas, which maybe does something...They're not really sure.

Wanna test it yourself?  Stick some water in your freezer and see if you notice something weird.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll get an effect named after you.

Thanks for asking and thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who keep these answers coming.  

If you'd like to submit questions to be answered or get these quick questions a few days before everyone else, go to  

Don't forget to go to and subscribe.

[Sci Show theme music playing]