PLATTSBURGH — For SUNY Plattsburgh assistant physics professor Ken Podolak, frigid temperatures are but an opportunity to create tasty treats.
After all, why venture out to a gas station to get a slushy from a machine when the frozen novelty can easily be conjured up in a soda bottle?
Inspired by a story on National Public Radio about fun things to do in the cold, Podolak recently invited two of his students, sophomores Ashley LeVasseur and Justin Collins, back to campus during winter break to give slushy making a whirl.
“We just thought it’d be fun,” LeVasseur said.
With the temperature near single digits and considerably colder wind chill on Tuesday, the three science enthusiasts bundled up and headed to the slippery sidewalk near the bank of ice-covered Hawkins Pond.
They began by positioning several plastic bottles of various flavors of soda in a snowbank to chill.
“You’ve just got to watch it carefully,” Podolak said. “You’ll actually see, if you leave it out there long enough, little ice crystals forming on the top.”
But one need not wait for the entire contents of the bottle to crystallize on its own, he noted.
Once the first flakes of ice appeared, Podolak and his students expedited the slushy-making process by vigorously shaking the bottles, causing more of the liquid to freeze instantaneously.
“It will actually form ice really quickly, and you get a lot of slush really fast,” the assistant professor explained.
It’s important, however, he noted, to depressurize the bottle before shaking it.
“You crack it (the cap) just so that the bottle doesn’t expand too much, and then you can close it and then shake it (the bottle) or tap it,” Podolak said.
LeVasseur and Collins advised against attempting the project with soda in cans or glass bottles.