July 14, 2020

BONUS: The science behind this sweet treat

National Ice Cream Day

Did you know America’s favorite treat also has incredible science behind it? In celebration of National Ice Cream Day we’re exploring the science behind ice cream.
Though ice cream appears to be a simple recipe, its food chemistry is surprisingly complex.

Cream, sugar, and vanilla extract all need to be chilled using an unlikely ingredient—salt. The salt plays an important role of lowering the freezing temperature so the mixture can become colder and freeze properly. If you didn’t use salt, your ice would melt before you could finish churning your ice cream!

With this information, can you guess why salt is used on roads and sidewalks in the winter? For the same reason! Lowered freezing temperatures prohibit the ice from forming.

Did you know churning ice cream creates tiny air and gas pockets? This means a major element of ice cream is actually air! When you enjoy a root beer float, this is why your ice cream floats to the top.

Ice cream is one of the most widely enjoyed desserts in the US, and the average American eats close to 50 pints a year! Could you top that? Create your own ice cream dessert by using our Stay-at-Home Science activity here.