Q:

Why doesn't alcohol freeze?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol does freeze, but at a much lower temperature than water. Pure alcohol freezes at -174.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Full Answer

It appears that alcohol does not freeze when put into a regular icebox, but this is because the conditions are not cold enough. Pure alcohol, or ethanol, freezes at the extremely low temperature of -174.6 degrees Fahrenheit, according to North Carolina State University. Water, on the other hand, freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

A substance reaches its freezing point when the force of attraction between its molecules becomes powerful enough to overcome the kinetic energy of the molecules when the substance is in a liquid state. Freezing occurs when the molecules become fixed in an array to form a solid.

Alcohol freezes at a low temperature because its molecules are less attracted to each other than the molecules in water. There are more hydrogen atoms bonded to oxygen in water, making the molecules more attractive and the substance easier to freeze. Ethanol features carbon bonded to oxygen, which is less attractive, so the temperature of alcohol needs to be much lower in order for the force of attraction to overcome the kinetic energy of the molecules so that the substance can freeze.

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