OK, so basically I need to find the latent heat of fusion of my frozen sugar water for my experiment, but I don't think I can use the normal styrofoam cup with water. Because when some of the sugar water melts, it will mix with the water, so I can't really measure the energy absorbed by the water since it's not totally water anymore. Does anyone have a better method? I've tried looking on google, but they all show methods for regular ice and not ice with impurities inside. Thanks in advance.

Edit: my question was originally about specific heat capacity, but i realised it was supposed to be latent heat of fusion

  • $\begingroup$ Can you edit your question to describe the "normal method" which you think will not work? $\endgroup$
    – rob
    Oct 4, 2020 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ basically u put a known amount of water in a styrofoam cup, n measure the temperature, then u add a known amount of ice n stir n wait until all the ice melts, then u record the final temperature. Then since the specific heat capacity of water is already known, u can then calculate the one for the ice $\endgroup$
    – prata
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


The specific heat capacity should vary with the sugar concentration. So here's my suggestion. First find the concentration of sugar in your frozen sugar water solution. Then create a sugar water solution with that concentration of sugar.

The first step is finding the specific heat capacity of that sugar water solution. You cannot use ice cubes for this because as the ice melts, the concentration of the solution will change. So what you should do is take a hot piece of metal with a known specific heat ,like copper for example, at a temperature $T_{hot}$ and put it into the sugar water solution in the styrofoam cup at room temperature $T_{room}$. There are many ways of doing this but I would suggest pulling the metal from water that has been boiling at 373K for a reasonable amount of time so that $T_{hot} = 373K$. After putting the hot metal in the sugar water solution, monitor it's temperature until equilibrium is reached at say $T_{final}$. Then just use the fact that net heat change is (neglecting heat loss to surrounding) zero so that you have $$m_{w}c'(T_{final} - T_{room}) + m_{metal}c_{metal} (T_{final} - T_{hot}) = 0$$ If you measure $m_w$ and $m_{metal}$, then the only unknown is the specific heat capacity of the sugar water solution $c'$.

The next step is simple. Now instead of doing the normal experiment with ice and water, you do it with frozen sugar water and sugar water solution. Both having the same sugar concentration so that when the ice melts, specific heat capacity of the liquid is unchanged. Instead of the specific heat of water, here you use the specific heat of the sugar solution that you found in the previous experiment.

Finally, if you do not have any pure sample of metal with known specific heat, then take any piece of metal lying around and do the first experiment but this time with pure water so that the unknown to be found is $c_{metal}$.

Edit: Okay, I forgot that the latent heat of fusion for your frozen sugar water is different from that of ice. So there are two unknowns now, the specific heat and the latent heat of fusion. So you need another equation. What you do is do a third experiment with the frozen sugar water, sugar water solution and hot metal with known specific heat capacity and monitor the temperature till equilibrium. That will give you your other equation.

  • $\begingroup$ yup that should work. thanks so much! $\endgroup$
    – prata
    Oct 4, 2020 at 23:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.