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Q: Freezing wafer thin sheets of water ice? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Freezing wafer thin sheets of water ice?
Category: Science > Physics
Asked by: jjsomewhere-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 27 Sep 2005 07:24 PDT
Expires: 27 Oct 2005 07:24 PDT
Question ID: 573253
How do I go about making wafer thin sheets of water ice? 

I need to freeze some water based paint into thin sheets of ice and
then break the ice over paper to achieve a desired visual effect? The
ice sheet needs to be as thin as possible, while still being
'transferable' for the few seconds from freezer to paper.

I'm thinking along the lines of floating the paint/water solution on a
tank of mineral oil (that's heavier than water and hopefully with a
lower freezing point) but I need the resulting ice sheet to be
'clean', ie not to pick up the oil and transfer it to the paper as
this would effect later stages of the work.

Any suggestions? If there are other media that I can mix the paint
with other than water then I'm open to suggestions. The ultimate
objective is as part of a series of works that explore random
processes in nature, with a climate change element. I can waffle on
further about this if anyone's interested and I'll go to a higher
price of this is going to need more time.

Many thanks,

Jeremy Johnson, MA(RCA)

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 27 Sep 2005 07:44 PDT
You might be able to do it with a heavy slab of metal, some Saran
Wrap, and a spray bottle.

Wrap the metal tightly with Saran Wrap or any similar plastic wrap,
and place it in the freezer for a good long while -- the colder the

Take it out, and spray the plastic surface with a mist of water.  It
should freeze on contact into a thin sheet.  You may have to play
around with the amount of water sprayed.

Lift off the entire plastic sheet with the ice, turn it over, and put
it wherever you so desire, with or without crumbling it first.

I haven't tried this, so I have no idea if it's do-able or not.  

Let me know if it works...


Request for Question Clarification by omnivorous-ga on 27 Sep 2005 08:15 PDT
JJ --

Pafalafa's idea isn't bad but I'll offer an alternate suggestion:
-- choose a base "palette" or paint holder that will tolerate cold
well.  Wood is probably sufficient.
-- get some slabs of dry ice (frozen CO2), which is at -78 degrees C
-- deposit your paint on the dry ice.  Place the dry ice on wood in a
freezer (sub 0 degrees C).  The dry ice will sublimate, leaving your
paint frozen in a sheet.

You should be able to remove the wood palette and shatter the paint
before it melts on the wood.  Note that plastics (like the Saran Wrap
or even a plastic board) will probably be extremely brittle or
self-destruct when faced with the extreme temperatures of the CO2.

Best regards,


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 27 Sep 2005 08:18 PDT
Ooooh...I like that idea even better than mine.


Clarification of Question by jjsomewhere-ga on 28 Sep 2005 03:19 PDT
Thanks pafalafa-ga and omnivorous-ga. Both ideas sound viable,
although I'm going to have to research finding the dry ice as I'm
right down in southwest England right now. Will explore that.

The dry ice idea might also open up some other possibilities re
freezing paint in other shapes, and using painted/sprayed dry ice
directly on the work. It would sublimate and the results might be
interesting. I'll also need to explore safe handling issues etc.

Using frozen CO2 in a work related partly to climate change has a nice
circularity to it as well, so long as the CO2 isn't derived from
fossil fuel sources ;-)

Meanwhile I'll try the metal sheet. I have already been playing with
saran wrap (we call it cling film in the UK) but haven't tried it on a
heavy metal slab. That all makes sense.

I'm not sure how the payment system works for multiple viable answers
as this is my first time on Google answers but I'm sure we can work
something out.

Will post again after some experimentation. Thankyou, Jeremy.

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 28 Sep 2005 05:41 PDT

If you feel your question has been answered, and that one suggestion
was superior to the other, then let us know, and that's the one that
will be posted as an official answer.

omnivorous-ga and I can work out something to split the fee, if that's
your preference.

And of course, you can leave the question open, in hopes of still more suggestions.

In any event, get back to us at your convenience to let us know how
you would like us to proceed.



P.S.  and be usre to let us know how your project works out!

Clarification of Question by jjsomewhere-ga on 01 Oct 2005 13:27 PDT
Hello omnivorous-ga & pafalafa-ga,

I've been thinking things through and am getting quite excited about
using the dry ice. I've also found a supplier who can courier the
stuff to me, so I'm planning to order some next week. They also supply
safety guidelines etc.

The original problem was that I wanted to break sheet ice onto a paint
support (eg. paper) and have the ice melt and the paint then dry to
create a desired effect (I'm creating 'paint landscapes' essentially).

To achieve this the ice/paint sheets needed to be very thin, otherwise
I would end up with way to much paint on the surface after the ice
melts and the result would be very soggy. Hence my original question.

Having considered the dry ice idea suggested by omnivorous-ga I've now
realised that there are whole range of other possibilities using dry
ice that might achieve my objective, or take it to a whole new level.
eg. maybe using the dry ice directly in contact with the paint.

I'm not sure where this is going, but it feels like the right direction.

To conclude, thankyou both for your suggestions but I'd like to go
with  omnivorous-ga's answer as the final one. I'll go back into the
studio and experiment, then post a followup at some point in case
anyone's interested.

Many thanks again for your help,

Subject: Re: Freezing wafer thin sheets of water ice?
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 01 Oct 2005 17:16 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Jeremy --

I sounds like a fascinating project.  Note that while dry ice is
excellent, you may be able to create the same effects at lower
temperatures.  For example, Pafalafa and I were discussing the
phenomenon of bubbles freezing at temperatures of minus 15-20
Fahrenheit (about -27 to -29 C).  They can't be handled (they shatter)
but you could find similar outdoor winter temperatures in Northern
Europe, Eastern Europe or northern portions of North America.  But not
in the south of England unless someone had a special walk-in freezer.

Along with this Answer, we do have to recommend the following Google
search stratgy, which has many recommendations to use tongs or
insulated gloves --
"handling dry ice"

Best regards,

jjsomewhere-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Freezing wafer thin sheets of water ice?
From: myoarin-ga on 28 Sep 2005 21:04 PDT
True GA-Researchers, not just whizzes on the net but very inventive too!

Probably you are both already thinking of this combination of your ideas:
Put the dry ice in a frame (box-like) with a thin metal plate resting
on the frame so that it is not in contact, just deepfreezer cold
(-20c).  Maybe a metal tray would do.  The cling film should survive
that temperature, and then follow Paf's method.  Maybe you don't need
the film, can just remove the plate and let the ice slide off it.
This will at least save on dry ice.  You may have to play with the
distance between the dry ice and the plate, or the time it takes for
the plate to cool,
probably just a fraction of an inch, letting it cool quickly while you
reach for your spray.
But I am just expanding on Paf's and Omni's ideas, it's their answer.

An aside:  Thanks, Omni, for your comment on the revenue question.  I
didn't want to go on about a notorious German bancrupty in which
receivables (security for loans) were inflated by booking as such
every query received about the product.

JJ MA(RCA), just to let you know that your "(RCA)" is recognized.  My
daughter got her MA there in 2002.  :)

Subject: Re: Freezing wafer thin sheets of water ice?
From: jjsomewhere-ga on 01 Oct 2005 13:07 PDT
Hi myoarin-ga,

Thanks for your suggestions, sounds good. I have some experimenting to
do and will post further on this above. Re the RCA thing, I don't
usually use it, but as I'm guessing that a load of these Google people
have PhD's etc it seemed like a good idea. Thanks again,


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