Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Does ice cool?
Name: Amber, Matt, Jason
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 

Does ice cool a drink or does a drink warm the ice?

Heat moves from a warmer body to a cooler body. Thus heat moves from the drink to the ice. When heat moves from the drink, it gets cooler.

Heat is a transfer of energy on a microscopic scale. Temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy (energy of motion) of the molecules present in a sample of matter. Thus, when heat moves from the drink, the molecules in the drink have a lower kinetic energy.

F. Brown in Tallahassee

Most of the cooling of the drink comes from the "latent heat of melting" which the ice absorbs when it melts... I think

jade hawk

Both of these answers are basically correct but I'd like to try to tie them together if I may.

Microscopically, the flow of heat between two phases is a massive transfer of kinetic energy due to molecular collisions. Now, if you dropped a block of cold aluminum into a cup of warm water, ALL of the heat that flowed from the "warm" water to the "cold" block would correspond to a "slowing-down" of the water molecules (cooling) and a "speeding-up" of the aluminum block's atoms (warming). Nothing else happens in this situation, because the amount of energy transferred is not enough to break the covalent bonds holding the atoms in the block of aluminum together.

Now, if the cold block is ice instead of aluminum, the heat that flows into the ice IS enough to break the hydrogen bonds holding the molecules in the block of ice together...or at least, some of it. Whether the ice melts completely will depend on how much water and how much ice there is in the glass...but some of it will melt, and this allows a cube of ice dropped into the cup to absorb more heat than the same mass of liquid water at the same temperature would...due, as jade hawk says, to the "latent heat of melting." So some cooling is due to melting, and some to equilibration.

- topper.

Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory