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Does electricity travel through solid ice?

Does electricity travel through solid ice?
Oliver Nicholls from Hampshire (Age: 5-14)

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2 Responses

  1. The easy answer is no. Electricity can not travel through pure water to any significant amount. Water is an insulator in the same way as wood.

    But, and here’s the odd bit, salty water will conduct water to a degree so if the ice has a high level of salt in it the conduction will be improved significantly.

  2. I’m afraid I don’t agree with Alex. Electricity will travel through anything (from one point to another) if there is enough variation in potential between the two points.

    As an example of this, lightning will travel through air when static electricity builds up in clouds, and the resistance of air to electricity is huge – gigaohms per metre!

    In comparison, the resistance of water is measured in kiloohms per metre, and cooling it to freezing would probably have the effect of reducing resistance further.

    So I think that electricity will travel through ice, yes. You may not be able to do this experiment at home unfortunately because you will need a power source with a large potential difference (voltage). I definitely don’t advise trying it, because handling such a power source is extremely dangerous!

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