I am a physics student, with little experience in chemistry. I am researching for a project which involves freezing and its capabilities on humans and different minerals like chalk.

I have been researching chalk for the last couple of months as part of my project. Can the cracks generated cause the mineral to break into fragments under freezing conditions?

It would be appreciated if anybody can explain this to me or even send/link me some papers that I can read further about this effect.

  • $\begingroup$ I am intrigued in how freezing temperatures can make chalk crack or "explode" as some would call it. I will try to edit my question to make it more clear, sorry in advance if my question is not clear in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Nemanja. V
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, do that. As stated before, I am completely new to Stachexchange, so I am still learning to post questions in here. Thank you very much for understanding. Do I have to give you permission anywhere to edit, or can anybody do that? $\endgroup$
    – Nemanja. V
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ Weathering of rocks through freeze/thaw cycles is a normal thing. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


Chalk cannot at given conditions explode chemically, spontaneously turning into other compounds.

It could locally "explode" mechanically as consequence of mechanical stress caused by thermal dilation due changes to temperature. But calling it explosion would be very much exaggerated. It would be rather just cracking.

There is a way such cracking would be more probable, if the chalk is porous, soaked by water. The internally forming expanding ice could crack the chalk easily But it would not happen at the first freezing event. It would need probably repeated freezing and melting, similarly like long term freeze weathering of rocks. The speed of such process depends on porosity..

Note that such cracking would be rather progressive than sudden, with cracks or crevices developing progressively, with occasional small pieces or blocks falling away. Sudden break of the whole block into small pieces is highly non-probable

  • $\begingroup$ That's exactly what I have been reading and understanding. Should I edit my question to "crack" instead? Furthermore, could chalk - let's say a chalk vase - in theory, "explode" in any way, if we put that vase outside in freezing conditions? $\endgroup$
    – Nemanja. V
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ See the A update. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Poutnik Just wanted to point out a typo "changes to temperature" in the 2nd para. $\endgroup$
    – user79161
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Poutnik where do I see the "A update"? $\endgroup$
    – Nemanja. V
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ A as the answer, Q as the question. There was added another paragraph to the answer. BTW StackExchange sites are primarily Q/A sites. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 14:03

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