Can thermite burn through a frozen lake?

Date:17 February 2017 Tags:, ,

Who wins in a battle of fire and ice? There’s only one way to find out and it’s not by waiting around for George R.R. Martin to finish his drawn out book series. A much quicker solution is to do what Beyond the Press did and set a whole bunch of thermite out on a frozen lake, light it up, and see what happens. Well, maybe don’t. But at least you can watch what happens.

By Eric Limer

This frivolous but flashy experiment is a follow up of a previous battle during which the team put a red hot 20-kilo weight made of steel onto the lake’s surface. After a while, it managed to get almost all the way through. Thermite, which can melt through a solid engine block, must fare at least as well, right?

Actually no. Despite the flashy start, the thermite doesn’t make much of an impression. It makes sense; while a red hot piece of metal is a consistent and concentrated heat source, a blaze of thermite is more intense but less contained. Plenty of that heat goes up and out, leaving a fraction of that energy focused on the ice below, which is loath to melt and uncooperative at spreading heat very far.

That leaves only one question left. How much thermite would it take? At this rate it’ll only be a week or two before we find out.

Video credit: Beyond the Press



This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.

Latest Issue :

July-August 2021