What caused this ice formation in my mother's birdbath?
March 27, 2014 7:50 AM   Subscribe

A few years ago, my mother sent me pictures of this odd ice formation that she found in her birdbath, wondering if I had any idea how it formed. I asked around on Facebook and none of my friends could identify it, but no such luck. I just occurred to me today to ask Ask. Here are the pictures: birdbath and close-up. Any thoughts on how that shape was created? This was winter 2010, in Connecticut.
posted by Neely O'Hara to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I believe that is an ice spike.
posted by jquinby at 7:52 AM on March 27, 2014 [13 favorites]

was it windy and cold or just plain cold ?

My guess: windy and cold, the surface of the water started to ice over, until all but one area (a bubble maybe?) hadn't froze over. Then, as the water underneath the ice cover started to freeze, it needed to expand (ie recall why ice floats ? It's less-dense than water, so needs more volume to freeze). And so that "pushed" the water up/out the hole where it froze in the pillar.
posted by k5.user at 7:54 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, just two minutes after posting and the mystery is solved - awesome!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2014

I get ice spikes all the time in my ice cube trays in the freezer.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:14 AM on March 27, 2014

Thorzdad: Do you have any idea why that is? I've never seen ice spikes in any freezer.

The Wiki page jquinby linked says that ice spikes can be formed at home by just freezing distilled water in ice cube trays.

Do you use filtered water?
posted by Sleeper at 11:16 AM on March 27, 2014

Like Thorzdad, I get lots of them in my icecube trays. I mostly get mounded icecubes or cubes with short spikes that are little more than half an inch or so, but occasionally there are 1-inch spikes or more. Rarely got them in any other freezer than my current one, and I use plain old tap water, for what that's worth.
posted by easily confused at 1:10 PM on March 27, 2014

Response by poster: Also, I emailed my mom to tell her about the successful identification of the ice spike, and she was so delighted - she had completely forgotten about it, and was so tickled to now know what happened. Thanks again, Ask (and jquinby especially!)
posted by Neely O'Hara at 11:05 AM on March 28, 2014

« Older Name that book: a detective novel in Los Angeles   |   Close Encounters of the panda kind Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.