# How fast does ice melt?

I know that folks used to keep ice in ‘ice houses’ for months into warm weather, and I’ve seen snowmen and ploughed snow (both essentially ice) alongside roads last for a really long time. But is there some sort of easy rule of thumb for X volume of ice lasts Y amount of time at Z temperature?

Remember folks, I’m an English major, so all those formulas and talk of thermal conductivity induce out of body experiences for me. I know there are a pile of factors that influence this, but hypothetically if you could rule some out (being in a enviroment without direct sunlight that stayed at a constant temperature and had no precipatation) can you boil it down to some sort of constant rate?

Come to think of it, the hypothetical enviroment I just outlined sounds a whole lot like an ice house doesn’t it?

-rainy

I don’t know any of the formulas, so you are safe there, but I do (think I) know that it has everything to do with surface area. So irregular shapes will take varying amounts of time to melt.

To melt ice, energy must be transferred. The amount of energy will depend principally on the mass of the ice chunk. The rate at which the energy is transferred depends on a whole bunch of things such as temperature difference, air circulation, exposure to radiation, etc.

If you could hold enough things constant, you could certainly come up with a simplified rate of melting. “In this precisely controlled environment, a 1-kg cube of ice requires on average 1187 seconds to melt.” But I’m not sure how useful that would be.

In order to be useful in the real world, formulas that take real-world conditions into account have been developed. Such formulas were not principally designed to be sleep-inducing. But they can get a bit complex - the real world is often not a simple place.