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Classic ice fishing experiment for kids.

I used nylon because I saw it in a stationery, and apparently that doesn't work because I guess it's too slippery. I tried thread from my mom's sewing kit, but that doesn't work either.

I'm not sure I can find yarn or kite string in the stationery or nearby so please suggest alternatives expected to be found in the average household, supermarket, grocery store or convenience store.

Also how long should we wait? The above video takes only 10 seconds while this video takes about 2 minutes (off screen). What factors influence waiting time? Amount of salt? Type of string?

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    $\begingroup$ I've had good results using sewing kit string or thin twine. $\endgroup$
    – Zhe
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ While this is an interesting question, I'm voting to close it as off-topic because it has essentially nothing to do with chemistry. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @hBy2Py OP wants to know about the factors influencing waiting time. Surely that's 'on-topic'? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @paracresol I did not take the time to visit the link provided at the start of OP's question ("ice fishing experiment" gives no indication that chemistry is involved, to my mind). Perhaps the information there makes it more of a chemistry question? If so, OP should edit the question to include details of the experiment, and I will gladly retract my close vote. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ "Ice fishing" is trying to melt a string into a piece of ice using salt. The ice re-freezes, allow you to pull the ice up with the string. I aggre that "ice fishing" is a very poor description though. Should be fixed to keep open. $\endgroup$
    – Zhe
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 19:11

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This resource has an explaination of the behavior, which relies on the salt-dissolved water wicking into the string. This would mean that you need a type of string which will absorb water. It's surprising to me that your nylon string doesn't work (as long as it's thick/low-density enough to absorb water, probably unlike fishing line), is it possible it has a hydrophobic coating?

I would recommend any cotton-based string or twine. Cooking twine and sewing thread is often cotton, if you have access to that. I've had no problems with these.

Edit: I just thought, that you might want to try this not in a cup of water first (like in the link above). You might potentially run into not-string-related problems if your water isn't cold enough, or if your ice gets too submerged when you put the salt on it. It's possible your nylon string is fine.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. Do you wait long enough for the salt to melt the water on the top of the ice-cube? $\endgroup$
    – NMJD
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ idk. I think so? I thijk i resd 10 seconds. I waited 30. I'll try again later $\endgroup$
    – BCLC
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure you've already thought of this too, then, but my other idea on timing is that you also want to be sure to wait long enough that the water (with salt wicked away) freezes between the string and the ice. $\endgroup$
    – NMJD
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ I put ice in a bowl or plate and then put salt over ice and then lightly tapped salt over ice with back of spoon. Then it worked. Any idea why the tapping works? Thanks once again. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! $\endgroup$
    – BCLC
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 5:55

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