So how I think is that: salt lowers the melting point of ice. So lower melting point means less thermal energy required to melt. So if it requires less thermal energy to melt, it should mean that the amount of thermal energy absorbed from the surroundings is lower?(as I am assuming it only absorbs just the amount it needs to melt) If so, why does the salted ice, instead, pull a larger amount of energy from its surrounding?

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    $\begingroup$ Salted ice absorbs heat from your skin at a faster rates, because temperature difference between your body and salted ice melting point is greater. That's why salted ice feels colder. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2022 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ "lower melting point means less thermal energy required to melt" I don't know whether it takes more or less energy to melt a given mass of ice, but the lower melting point means, that salty, melting ice is colder than pure, melting H2O. (Agnius Valiliauskas said, "...feels colder." That's true. It feels colder because it actually is colder.) $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2022 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Plus you're getting salt on the skin, but that's veering into Biology SE territory. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Sep 13, 2022 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ I think you're not saying everything that's on your mind because as written, it basically sounds like you're asking something similar to "Why does a punch still hurt when it has less energy behind it than a bullet?" $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Sep 13, 2022 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DkNguyen Sorry I asked this without thinking. Should have phrased the question better. Can you tell me if the title is better? $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2022 at 8:49

1 Answer 1


So lower melting point means less thermal energy required to melt.

No; we still need to provide essentially the same amount of latent heat to break the bonds associated with the solid state:

enter image description here

The lower melting point simply means that the liquid state has become more stable. The reason is that the liquid contains dissolved salt (and thus <100% water), but the ice doesn't (100% water), and so the water naturally moves to the area of lower water concentration. In the process, it's forced to melt, which draws energy from the surrounding regions.

In other words, we obtain cooling by forcing melting via a concentration difference.

I know I went wrong somewhere as obviously the skin is damaged or hurt due to the salted ice pulling more heat/thermal energy(actually are they the same?) from the skin(pulling more heat than if the ice were not salted).

Yes; contact with salted ice is generally much more painful and damaging to tissue because the reasons above cause the salted ice to be colder—cold enough to freeze a large hunk of skin.


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