Why Does Sugar Melt Ice?

By William Lynch
Sugar melts ice

During winter, salt becomes invaluable when dealing with icy roads and walkways. The salt melts the ice and makes traveling safer. Yet it is less well-known that sugar can produce the same result.

Fact

Sugar, and anything else dissolved in water, will melt ice.

Sugar, and anything else capable of being dissolved in water, will melt ice.

Function

Sugar lowers water's meting and freezing point.

Like salt, sugar melts ice by lowering water's melting and freezing points.

Effects

Sugar interferes with the water molecules that need to bind to ice crystals to freeze.

When sugar is tossed on ice, it dissolves and interferes with the water molecules, which need to bind to ice crystals in order to freeze. Sugar’s presence requires the temperature to be much colder before the water molecules come into contact with ice crystals.

Cause

Sugar isn't as effective as salt.

While sugar will melt ice, it still isn’t as effective as salt, which breaks down into sodium and chloride ions. In other words, when one molecule of salt dissolves, it adds two components to the solution, providing more interference in preventing water molecules from freezing.

Considerations

Using sugar widely to melt ice would be impractical.

Sugar is also more expensive than salt, making it impractical for wide use.

About the Author

William Lynch has been a freelance writer for the past fifteen years, working for various web sites and publications. He is currently enrolled in a Master of Arts program in writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University. He hopes to one day become a mystery novelist.