Ice Tunnels: Bring on the Summer Fun!


Summer is a wonderful time for outdoor art and sensory science activities you can do outside. “Ice Tunnels” combine ordinary salt, ice and Colorations® Liquid Watercolor in an unforgettable art and science experiment that costs only pennies. Try this on sunny day with lots of bright sunlight and you’ll experience amazing color, light refraction and salt crystallization with the ultimate “hands-on” experience for children of all ages.

To make “Ice Tunnels,” fill up a variety of plain plastic containers with water and freeze overnight. Dump the ice onto an art tray or sand & water table, and follow the simple directions attached below from Smart Art 2. Use ordinary table salt or experiment and find different results from using “Ice Cream Salt” which is sold in most grocery stores next to the table salt.

Get the printable instructions here!

What happens when the salt, color and ice sit out for a while and begin their tranformation? Salt is an interesting mineral with many unique properties. It lowers the freezing temperature of water, so it corrodes little crevices into the ice as it melts down portions of it. These crevices, or “nooks and crannies,” show up beautifully when liquid color is dropped into them. As the ice chunks sit in the sun, the salt will create more crevices and as it does, the liquid color moves, blends and sparkles in the light. Hold up to the sun for a wonderful discovery that looks almost like a crystal!

If you leave chunks of ice touching each other, the salt will make some of them stick together after you leave them on the tray for a while. Can you guess why? It’s the corrosion happening between the walls as they touch each other. Amazing, huh?

Here are a collection of salted ice chunks after about a half an hour in the sun. We used mostly blues here, combining Colorations® Liquid Watercolor in teal, blue and turquoise. Let children select their own colors, or experiment with the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and watch wonderful secondary colors naturally occur. There’s so much to see as you watch the ice, salt and color transform, so bring out the magnifying wands as you enjoy this activity on a warm, sunny day.
Find more creative art lessons in Smart Art 2.

Shop here for your own copy!

13 thoughts on “Ice Tunnels: Bring on the Summer Fun!

  1. BEAUTIFUL!!! I'm going to try this with my class FOR SURE! I'm in love with this project…art and science together always floats my boat :] Thanks for sharing!

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