What Makes Ice Melt Fastest?

This lesson plan is designed to investigate the effect of four different common household substances on the melting point of ice. It provides good background information in the introduction and clear directions for completing the experiment. Consider using this as a demonstration of a well-designed experiment prior to letting students design their own experiments. You may replace the electronic kitchen balance with a small classroom scale. All other materials and equipment are readily available in most homes. Some of the language may not be grade appropriate.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0507.9.2
Design and conduct an experiment to demonstrate how various types of matter freeze, melt, or evaporate.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 


  • To determine which added material will make ice melt fastest.
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • What is freezing point depression? When does it happen?
  • How are solutions made?
  • Which of the suggested test substances are soluble in water?
  • Which of the suggested test substances are insoluble in water?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 

Helpful Hints


  • Identical bowls or saucers (4)
  • Ice cubes (12). They should all be the same size and shape.
  • Salt (¾ tsp.)
  • Sugar (¾ tsp.)
  • Sand (¾ tsp.)
  • ¼ teaspoon measuring spoon
  • Timer or clock
  • Refrigerator. You will want an empty shelf that can hold all four bowls, unstacked, at the same time.
  • 50 mL graduated cylinder, or smaller size.
  • Large cup with a spout, such as some measuring cups. Alternatively you could use a funnel that fits in the graduated cylinder.
  • Optional: Masking tape and a permanent marker for labeling the bowls
  • Lab notebook