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How to Calculate Freezing Point

By an eHow Contributor A solution always freezes at lower temperature than the corresponding pure solvent does. The magnitude of the decrease of freezing point depends on the concentration of the dissolved substance and on the cryoscopic constant, which is a unique characteristic of each solvent. As an example, calculate the freezing point of the solution obtained by dissolving 15 g of sodium chloride (NaCl) in 100 g of water. Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Instructions Things You'll Need:


1. 1 Calculate the molar mass of the dissolved compound. Molar mass is calculated as the sum of mass of all atoms in the molecule. Atomic weights of corresponding elements are given in the periodic table of the chemical elements. In our example it would be: Molar mass (NaCl)=M(Na)+M(Cl)=23+35.5=58.5 g/mole. 2. 2 Divide the mass of the dissolved compound by its molar mass to calculate its amount in moles. Amount (in moles) =mass (compound)/molar mass (compound). In our example, Amount (NaCl)=15g /58.5 g/mole= 0.256 moles. 3. 3 Divide number of moles (Step 2) by the mass (in kg) of the solvent to calculate the concentration of the dissolved compound. Note this concentration is called molality. Molality(compound)=number of moles (compound)/mass of solvent in kg. In our example, Molality (NaCl)=0.256 moles/0.1 kg of water=2.56 moles/kg. 4. 4 Consider a possible dissociation of the dissolved compound and calculate the total number of ions (referred to as the van't Hoff factor) resulted from the dissociation. For instance, the salt Na2SO4 dissociates as Na2SO4=2Na(+)+SO4(2-) i.e. produces 3 ions. Sodium chloride produced two ions (Na+ and Cl-) i.e. its van't Hoff factor equals 2. 5. 5

Navigate to solvent properties table or consult references and find the cryoscopic constant (Kf) and the freezing point for a particular solvent. In our example, Kf of water is -1.86 and its freezing point is 0 degree Celsius. 6. 6 Multiply molarity (Step 3), the cryoscopic constant (Step 5) and van't Hoff factor (Step 4) to calculate the freezing point depression (dT). dT(degrees Celsius )=molality x cryoscopic constant x van't Hoff factor. In our example, dT = 2.56 x (-1.86) x 2=-9.5 degrees Celsius. 7. 7 Add the freezing point depression to the freezing point of the solvent to calculate the freezing point of the solution. In our example, freezing point of the NaCl solution=0+(-9.5)=-9.5 degrees Celsius.

The decrease in the freezing point of a solvent caused by the presence of a solute.

If you live in an area with a cold and icy winter, you have probably experienced salt on sidewalks and roads, used to melt the ice and snow and keep it from refreezing. Salt is also used to make homemade ice cream. In both cases, the salt works by lowering the melting or freezing point of water. The effect is termed 'freezing point depression'.

How Freezing Point Depression Works When you add salt to water, you introduce dissolved foreign particles into the water. The freezing point of water becomes lower as more particles are added until the point where the salt stops dissolving. For a solution of table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water, this temperature is -21C (-6F) under controlled lab conditions. In the real world, on a real sidewalk, sodium chloride can melt ice only down to about -9C (15F). Colligative Properties Freezing point depression is a colligative property of water. A colligative property is one which depends on the number of particles in a substance. All liquid solvents with dissolved particles (solutes) demonstrate colligative properties. Other colligative properties include boiling point elevation, vapor pressure lowering, and osmotic pressure. More Particles Mean More Melting Power

Sodium chloride isn't the only salt used for de-icing, nor is it necessarily the best choice. Sodium chloride dissolves into two types of particles: one sodium ion and one chloride ion per sodium chloride 'molecule'. A compound that yields more ions into a water solution would lower the freezing point of water more than salt. For example, calcium chloride (CaCl2) dissolves into three ions (one of calcium and two of chloride) and lowers the freezing point of water more than sodium chloride. Here are some other de-icing compounds:
Chemicals Used to Melt Ice Name Formula Lowest Practical Temp -7C (20F) -29C (-20F) Pros Cons

Ammonium sulfate


Fertilizer Melts ice faster than sodium chloride

Damages concrete Attracts moisture, surfaces slippery below -18C (0F)

Calcium chloride CaCl2

Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)

Calcium carbonate CaCO3, magnesium carbonate MgCO3, and acetic acid CH3COOH

-9C (15F)

Works better to Safest for concrete prevent re-icing than & vegetation as ice remover Melts ice faster than sodium chloride Biodegradable

Magnesium chloride Potassium acetate Potassium chloride


-15C (5F) -9C (15F) -7C (20F) -9C (15F) -7C (20F)

Attracts moisture





Damages concrete Corrosive, damages concrete & vegetation Agricultural grade is corrosive

Sodium chloride NaCl (rock salt, halite)

Keeps sidewalks dry