Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | December 19, 2018

Why Is Ice Slippery?

(3 Minute Read)

Why does ice grip so tenaciously?

Do you toss and turn and lose sleep trying to figure out why ice is slippery?

The last time you fell while ice skating or trying to navigate an icy sidewalk, did you wonder why the ice was so slick?

If you tried to glide across most solids on the thin blades of ice skates, awful screeches would assault your ears and you would trip and fall. But this does not happen when gliding across ice. Why?

If you could explain precisely why ice is slippery, you could win a Nobel Prize. Scientists do not know the answer. Arguments over different hypotheses persist. Physicists now say the common explanation in textbooks is wrong. Ice is mysterious!

On the other hand, why does ice grip so tenaciously? Removing ice from smooth windshields or from concrete sidewalks can be very difficult. The adhesiveness of ice is due to the strong molecular bonds that ice forms with many substances, including glass, concrete, and skin.

Types of Ice

The ice that you slip on in the parking lot and use to chill drinks is just one of at least 20 different molecular forms of ice that have been discovered. Common ice is called Ice Ih because the water molecules are arranged in a hexagonal pattern. Another form found high in the atmosphere with cubic crystals is called Ice Ic.

Other forms of ice are identified as Ice II, Ice III, . . . , Ice XV. These forms occur only at extreme temperatures and pressures that most people are unlikely to encounter. You won’t find them in the parking lot or in ice machines. Ice XII was only discovered two decades ago.

Want to win a Nobel prize in physics?
Just answer this simple question!
Why ice is slippery?

Common ice (Ice Ih) floats because it’s less dense than water. This is unusual for solids. Most solids are more dense than their liquid forms. For example, a block of frozen alcohol (freezes at -173°F) immediately sinks to the bottom of a beaker of liquid alcohol because the solid is much denser than the liquid.

If ice were denser than water it would sink to the bottom of water bodies killing most marine life over the winter. Being at the bottom, ice would not melt over the summers. In a few years all water bodies would be frozen solid, and life would die out on earth. Except for Ice Ih and Ice Ic, the other forms of ice are denser than water and sink.

Water is essential for life. It slakes thirst and is the best and cheapest solvent and cleanser. Yet the water molecule (H2O) is one of the simplest molecules. Man is still struggling to understand the secrets of this “simple” molecule. Scientists study the different forms of ice hoping to better understand how the water molecule works in plants and animals.

Can you figure out the pertinent phrase that this Rebus puzzle represents? Try to solve the puzzle before you look at the answer below.

Ice in the Bible

Where did ice and water come from? The Almighty created water on Creation Day 1 in abundance (Genesis 1:1-2).

Weather extremes are of great human interest. One of Yahweh’s “unanswerable” questions to Job was where did ice come from (Job 38:29). Cold, ice, and snow all come from the Almighty (Job 37:5-13; 38:22,23; Psalm 147:15-17).

Sometimes weather changes by dozens of degrees in a single day. Can man cause this? Can man freeze a lake as Yahweh can? (Job 38:29-30) Man cannot even accurately predict the weather more than a few hours in advance, much less control or even significantly affect it. The Almighty alone controls the weather for His own sovereign purposes.

Yahweh uses weather to get man’s attention and to speak to him
(2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Amos 4:7-8). Sometimes weather and morality are connected as vividly demonstrated by Noah’s Flood (Genesis 6).

The same lesson in reverse (drought instead of flood) was delivered to Israel’s King Ahab 1650 years later
(1 Kings 16:30-18:46).
Noah’s Flood and Ahab’s Drought were weather-delivered divine moral judgments.

Extreme winter weather seals the hand of every man (prevents ordinary business and work) for the purpose that all men may know His work (Job 37:5-7). Remember this verse when snow cancellations occur, and instead of bemoaning the ice, praise Yahweh for His glory, majesty, and power.

Questions to Ponder

1. When weather frustrates your plans, how do you react? Does your response honor the Great Creator?
2. How does weather remind you of the Great Creator?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Rebus puzzle answer: Cool as a cucumber.
[Coo+lass+saw cue+comb+BRR]
(Click Rebus puzzles for links to blog articles with a Rebus puzzle.)

Soli Deo Gloria.

Read the sequel:
Why Does Salt Melt Ice?

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday December 19, 2018 A.D.

God thunders with His voice wondrously,
Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow He says, “Fall on the earth,”
And to the downpour and the rain, “Be strong.”
He seals the hand of every man,
That all men may know His work.

(Job 37:5-7)


  1. Will+yam, eye a+preist+she+8+dead y+oar b+log 2+Day. Th+“n”+kiss.


    • Very clever and creative! Thanks for the encouragement, John.


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