Icicles are awe-inspiring creations, formed when water freezes as it’s dripping. You can find icicles cascading over rocky outcrops, hanging from tree branches, and along most rooflines. The heat from buildings and the warmth from the sun are enough to melt snow that may have clung to the roofs, but the air temperature is cold enough to refreeze the water quickly as it drips.
If you look closely at trees after a winter storm, you may notice small icicles hanging from the ends of branches that were broken by the strong winds. If these trees are in the maple family, you should venture out when the storm is over to sample one of these icicles. The icicles are actually frozen sap that has dripped from the broken branches. They are delicious, and some compensation for any damage done to your trees.
Make Your Own Icicles
Make your own icicles! All you need is a container you can puncture a very small hole in (make sure you’ll be able to hang it, too), and some water.
Poke a hole in the bottom of the container, just big enough to allow the water to drip out very slowly. The success of this experiment depends greatly on the freeze/thaw cycle, so don’t be disappointed if your man-made attempts don’t work at first. Try changing the size of the hole, or hang the container in another location, to speed up or slow down the process as you see fit.
[Image: Courtesy of Mike Crowley; available for sale at his website Life in the Northwoods]