You are here:

Physics/Ice Reaction


Hi Steve,

I do not know if this is the right place where I should ask but I would be very happy if you can help me.

Every time we boil water to make the meat softer were always a debate between I my relatives and I.

They say that if you put ice to the boiling water, there will be a reaction HOT vs COLD which will make the meat tender faster.

Is there a scientific explanation to this? Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.


There doesn't seem to be a scientific explanation for this, probably it's a myth that has turned into a recipe.  These things happen all the time, it's basic psychology...however...if you have ice floating on top of boiling water then you have a huge thermal gradient in the water.  It's possible (you'd need real temperature measurements to prove it) that the water can heat higher than boiling in the middle through some strange dynamic thermal process.  I don't have the temperature measurements to say that it's either higher or colder temperature, but it's possible.  If you have a thermometer (like a meat thermometer) that can show that the middle of the pot (where the meat is) is hotter than boiling or colder, then you can say that the different temperature is responsible.  If not, it's possible that you can crank the heat transfer rate up so high with ice on top that the meat simply absorbs more thermal energy faster.  Measurements would have to be made to give us more clues.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

©2016 All rights reserved.