Science Experiment - Knowledgebase Question

Toronto, ON
Avatar for boudrea4
Question by boudrea4
February 16, 1998
I am doing a science experiment. I am looking at the difference between cold and room temperature water and how much soil holds. Why do soils hold more room temperature water than cold water?

Answer from NGA
February 16, 1998
That sounds like it should be part of your experiment--analyzing your results. First of all, does soil really hold more warm water? How many different kinds of soil have you tested? Heavy clay soil may behave differently than sandy soil. Garden loam may behave differently than a purchased soilless mix. And straight peat may behave even differently.

Also, how about if you let that soil treated with cold water stand at room temperature for a while? Would it absorb more water then?

Think about what soils are composed of: there's the mineral part--made up of ground up rock particles in various sizes. Then there's the organic matter. (Other components of soil include air and water.)

Think about how warm water differs from cold water. For example, you know that if you drop a piece of butter in cold water, it keeps its shape. If you drop a piece of butter in warm water, it begins to melt. So warm water may be better at dissolving, or being absorbed by, certain components of soil. Ireally don't know the answer, so I'm just trying to think of some possibilities. Most things expand when heated, and contract when chilled, so that might have something to do with it. Maybe the soil particles expand in warm water, allowing them to absorb more water. Which soil particles are most likely to expand?

I think it would be interesting to try different kinds of soil, and see if the results are consistent. Then, if one soil behaves differently, try to analyze what components of that soil are different than the other soils, and see if you can figure things out.

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