How Long Does it Take Water to Freeze?

If you're having a party, you need ice cubes to keep your cocktails cool and your Cola chilled. While everyone is having a blast, the last thing you need is to run out of ice! 

Unless there's an ice cube-making machine handy, you have to plan carefully to make sure you're not left with warm drinks wondering, "How long does it take for water to freeze?" 

Once you know more or less what the freezing point is of water, it makes it a lot easier to plan your party. 

Figuring Out the Freezing Time 

It can take water anything from several hours to a month to form ice crystals and eventually reach a freezing point. How long it takes for water to freeze depends on several factors, including:

  • How much water you're trying to freeze.
  • The temperature of the water.
  • The air temperature around the water you are freezing.

All these factors will affect how long it takes water to freeze. This means that the exact freezing time is all but impossible to determine. Your best bet is to experiment with different water temperatures and ice trays and see how your freezer works. 

So... At What Temperature Does Water Freeze?

You may have heard that the freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this is technically true, it depends on how much water you’re talking about. Even in icy cold air, a large body of water like a lake or a deep pond will take weeks to freeze, whereby a glass of water could freeze overnight. 

Since a glass of frozen water is not going to help you entertain your guests at a party (and even less so a lake or a pond!), you'll need to focus on the freezing temperature of water in something usable for drinks (i.e. ice cubes).

How Long Do Ice Cubes Take to Freeze?

Mostly, a standard plastic ice tray that holds 12 cubes filled with room temperature water will take around 3 to 4 hours to freeze in a home freezer. Of course, you get ice trays in various sizes and made out of different materials, and all of this will affect the water freezing point. 

Three factors will affect the time it takes to make ice cubes:

#1 The size of the cube matters

If you have an ice tray with an unusual size, it will affect the freezing time. So, watch out for those cute ice cube trays that produce ice in different shapes or the tiny ice cubes that are great for crushed ice or decorative drinks. The bigger the block, the longer it will take for the water to freeze.

#2 Are you freezing individual ice cubes, or are they divided?

The surface area affects the time it takes for your ice cubes to be ready to be used. Water freezes from the outside in. This means that ice trays with air space between each cube freeze quicker than a tray with dividers.

#3 Air temperature affects freezing

We've learned that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). But did you know that home freezers don't all run at the same air temperature? Although most run at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is optimal, this can vary. 

Every time you open your freezer or put food in that's at room temperature, the temperature in the freezer increases. If you’re not careful, this will slow down the ice-making process. 

Does the Container Material Affect How Fast Water Freezes?

How quickly water freezes depends on various environmental factors. However, the ice tray's material generally does not affect how long it takes for the water to freeze and turn into ice cubes. Whether your ice cube tray is plastic or silicone, it should not make a difference. 

However, there are exceptions to this rule. If the ice tray is made of a material that changes the water's temperature, it will affect how long it takes to freeze. 

Make Sure You Have Enough Ice for Your Event!

If you're having a party, make sure you have enough ice before it starts. If not, it's too late to start wondering - How long does it take to make ice cubes? By the time you get the water to freeze, your guests will already have left!

Make sure you have enough ice cubes on the day of the party. If you run out of ice, you'll have to take time out from having fun with your friends to go to the store to buy more.

There are some tricks to make water freeze faster, but it's best to be prepared. 

P.S. Double check whether you have enough sodas and beer cans. It’s always nice to spice things up between cocktails! Plus, when the good stuff is gone everyone is going to ask where the beer is! Don’t be caught unprepared. 

P.P.S. Also, make sure you've got a can crusher handy, too! A can crusher will make cleaning up a breeze no matter how wild the party gets and it’s a great way to make sure you recycle all those resources! Plus, you can turn it into a fun party activity. Have your guests smash their drink cans with the can crusher in a mini strength-contest!

How to Get Water to Freeze Faster

There are two relatively simple ways to freeze water quicker: using hot water and using an ice maker. Of course, it is possible to use liquid nitrogen to make water freeze fast. But who has a spare canister of that lying around at home? 

Try these methods instead:

  • Hot water -It may come as a surprise, but hot water can freeze faster than cold water. Known as the Mpemba effect, experiments across a wide range of conditions proved that cold water takes longer to freeze than hot water.
  • An ice maker -This gadget freezes water by exposing the water to compressor coils in the ice maker. This is a simple way to freeze water fast. 

Or You Could Make Ice That Melts Slower

Instead of making ice freeze faster, another idea is to make sure your ice melts as slowly as possible. This way, you'll need less ice to see you through your party. Yes, it is possible to make ice that melts slowly! 

Here are some tips:

  • Make ice with boiled water - If you boil your water before using it to make ice, you will reduce air bubbles and impurities. This will slow down melting time and also produce more transparent ice.
  • Add salt to your water -If you add some salt to your melting process, you'll slow down the melting time. Bear in mind that it will also slow down freezing, so if you need ice in a hurry, don't try this tip!
  • Make large ice cubes or spheres - The smaller the ice block's surface exposed to the air, the slower it will melt. This means that tiny cubes melt quicker. For the ultimate ice, use an ice ball maker to make beautiful, round icy spheres that melt slowly.

So, How Long Does It Take Water to Freeze?

The short answer is that a standard ice tray takes around 3 to 4 hours to freeze in a typical home freezer. However, the total time could be affected by various environmental factors and the size of the cubes you're trying to freeze.

There are ways to speed up freezing, like using hot water instead of cold water and making sure the air in your freezer is as cold as possible. You could also use an ice maker to make ice that melts slower.

The most important thing to do before you have a party or another event where you'll need a lot of ice is to plan, and not start wondering, “How long does it take to get more ice cubes?”

You don't have to be left in the cold with guests getting annoyed by their warm drinks! Pretty cool, right?