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Water is the most abundant molecule in your body. You probably know some facts about the compound, such as its freezing and boiling point or that its chemical formula is H2O. Here's a collection of weird water facts that might surprise you.01of 11
You can make instant snow from boiling waterIf you throw boiling hot water into cold air, it will instantly freeze into snow. Layne Kennedy / Getty Images
Everyone knows snowflakes can form when water is cold enough. Yet, if it's really cold outside, you can make snow form instantly by throwing boiling water into the air. It has to do with how close boiling water is to turning into water vapor. You can't get the same effect using cold water.02of 11
Water can form ice spikesSpring ice formations off the coast of Barrie Island, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Ron Erwin / Getty Images
Icicles form when water freezes as it drips down from a surface, but water can also freeze to form upward-facing ice spikes. These occur in nature, plus you can also make them form in an ice cube tray in your home freezer.
Water may have a 'memory'Some research indicates water maintains its shape around molecules, even after they are removed. Miguel Navarro / Getty Images
Some research indicates water may retain a "memory" or imprint of the shapes of particles that were dissolved in it. If true, this could help explain the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, in which the active component has been diluted to the point where not even a single molecule remains in the final preparation. Madeleine Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, found homeopathic solutions of histamine behaved like histamine (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181). While more research needs to be performed, the implications of the effect, if true, would have a significant impact on medicine, chemistry, and physics.
Water displays weird quantum effectsWater displays weird relativistic effects at the quantum level. oliver(at)br-creative.com / Getty Images
Ordinary water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but a 1995 neutron scattering experiment "saw" 1.5 hydrogen atoms per oxygen atom. While a variable ratio is not unheard of in chemistry, this type of quantum effect in water was unexpected.05of 11
Water can supercool to freeze instantlyDisturbing water chilled below its freezing point will make it instantly transition into ice. Momoko Takeda / Getty Images
Typically when you chill a substance to its freezing point, it changes from a liquid into a solid. Water is unusual because it can be cooled well below its freezing point, yet remain a liquid. If you disturb it, it instantly freezes into ice. Try it and see!
Water has a glassy stateWater has a glassy state, where it flows yet has more order than a normal liquid. Indeed / Getty Images
Do you think water can only be found as a liquid, solid, or gas. There's a glassy phase, intermediate between the liquid and solid forms. If you supercool water, but don't disturb it to make it form ice, and bring the temperature down to -120 °C the water becomes an extremely viscous liquid. If you cool it all the way down to -135 °C, you get "glassy water," which is solid, yet not crystalline.07of 11
Ice crystals aren't always six-sidedSnowflakes display hexagonal symmetry. Edward Kinsman / Getty Images
People are familiar with the six-sided or hexagonal shape of snowflakes, but there are at least 17 phases of water. Sixteen are crystal structures, plus there's also an amorphous solid state. The "weird" forms include cubic, rhombohedral, tetragonal, monoclinic, and orthorhombic crystals. While hexagonal crystals are the most common form on Earth, scientists have found this structure is very rare in the universe. The most common form of ice is amorphous ice. Hexagonal ice has been detected near extraterrestrial volcanoes.
Hot water can freeze faster than cold waterThe rate at which ice forms from water depends on its starting temperature, but sometimes hot water freezes more quickly than cold water. Erik Dreyer / Getty Images
It's called the Mpemba effect, after the student who verified this urban legend is actually true. If the cooling rate is just right, water that starts out hot can freeze into ice more quickly than cooler water. Although scientists aren't certainly exactly how it works, the effect is believed to involve the effect of impurities on water crystallization.09of 11
Water is blueWater and ice really are blue. Copyright Bogdan C. Ionescu / Getty Images
When you see a lot of snow, ice in a glacier, or a large body of water, it looks blue. This isn't a trick of the light or a reflection of the sky. While water, ice, and snow appear colorless in small quantities, the substance is actually blue.10of 11
Water increases in volume as it freezesIce is less dense than water, so it floats. Paul Souders / Getty Images
Usually, when you freeze a substance, the atoms pack more closely together to form a lattice to make a solid. Water is unusual in that it becomes less dense as it freezes. The reason has to do with hydrogen bonding. While water molecules get pretty close and personal in the liquid state, the atoms keep each other at a distance to form ice. This has important implications for life on Earth, as it's the reason ice floats on top of water and why lakes and rivers freeze from the top rather than the bottom.11of 11
You can bend a water stream using staticStatic electricity can bend water. Teresa Short / Getty Images
Water is a polar molecule, which means each molecule has a side with a positive electrical charge and a side with a negative electrical charge. Also, if water carries dissolved ions, it tends to have a net charge. You can see the polarity in action if you place a static charge near a stream of water. A good way to test this for yourself is to build up a charge on a balloon or comb and hold it near a stream of water, like from a faucet.