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Experiment: States of Matter


15 October 2009 by Quest 2. Links in with States of Matter.


To compare how easily water (ice) melts, heats up and evaporates to how easily methylated spirits heats up and evaporates.

To get used to using lab equipment.


1. Place ice cube in beaker and heat over a meths burner, timing how long it takes to melt, boil, etc.

2. Put a crushed ice cube in a test tube and similarly heat.

3. Place methylated spirits in a test tube and very carefully heat over meths burner.

4. Place lots of ice cubes in a beaker and heat over a meths burner.

Materials & Equipment

  • Ice cubes.
  • Methylated spirits.
  • Beaker, test tubes, test tube holder.
  • Meths burner, lighter.


Times stated in minutes and seconds.

1. Ice cube in beaker. Performed by James.

1:00 - All ice melted.
1:30 - Starting to boil.
4:00 - Mostly evaporated, test stopped.

2. Ice cube in test tube. It was a little bit tricky crushing the ice and adding it to the test tube, and not all the ice from the cube was added to the test tube. Performed by Hamish.

1:07 - All ice melted.
1:36 - Test tube vibrating.
2:00 - Boiling.
13:00 - Mostly evaporated, test terminated.

3. Liquid methylated spirits in test tube. Performed by Kent.

0:05 - Condensation on inside of test tube.
0:24 - Burning vapour from top end of test tube.
4:00 - Test terminated; slow going due to fire hazard.

4. Lots of ice cubes in beaker. Performed by John.

0:20 - Water level rising.
1:09 - Beaker said to be "vibrating like crazy".
1:22 - Ice dropped into beaker.
2:13 - Water level rising crazily.
3:00 - Condensation on outside of beaker.
5:09 - Kent noted "Fully melted", although at this stage there was still ice present.
6:30 - Beaker removed from meths burner to check status.
7:00 - No ice, all now melted. Water is cool/cold to touch. Beaker returned to meths burner.
9:00 - Heating terminated. Water hot to touch.


  • Ice and water is easier to heat in a beaker than in a test tube because the bottom of the beaker has a larger surface for collecting heat from a meths burner and water vapour can escape from a beaker more easily than it can from a test tube.
  • Methylated spirits evaporates more easily than does water.
  • Evaporated methylated spirits is very flammable (it ignites very easily).
  • Ice takes more heat to melt than water takes to heat it up.