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February 15, 2022

Can hot water freeze faster than cold?

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Not always, but sometimes hot water freezes faster than cold water.

Noted by scientists since Aristotle’s time (4th century BC), this phenomenon is now known as the Mpemba effect after Erasto Mpemba, a schoolboy from Tanzania. He claimed in his science class that ice cream would freeze faster if it was heated first before being put in the freezer.

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So far, there is no unique theory explaining this effect.

One of the recent hypotheses is that hot water cools faster because of the bigger difference in temperature between the water and the freezer. That may help hot water reach its freezing point quicker than cold water with its natural freezing point of at least 5°C lower.

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