It's a hot summer day, and you and your friends have just walked out of Jeni's, cones in hand, piled with scoops of wonderfully delectable ice cream. Someone points to a cool display in a nearby store, and three seconds of window shopping quickly turns into three minutes. By the time you turn back to your ice cream, half of it has melted away onto your hand and on the sidewalk. Ugh.

Why does ice cream melt anyway? This is the question that people didn't even know to ask, but desperately want the answer to. Get ready to get sciency, folks. 

The Breakdown

This article describes the science of melting in simple terms. Think back to middle school science class: a solid turns to a liquid because it absorbs energy, and a liquid turns into a gas because it absorbs even more energy.

The same thing happens with ice cream. It's a solid that absorbs the heat energy around it. The warmer the atmosphere, the more energy there is. Since normal people eat ice cream in a warm environment as opposed to a colder one, the ice cream takes in the energy from the surrounding warm environment. If it isn't eaten fast enough, the once refreshing ice cream will be a sad puddle on the ground. 

The Melting Point

The temperature at which ice cream starts to melt all depends on the ingredients. Milk melts at 31 degrees Fahrenheit, but additional ingredients like sugar and cream have different melting temperatures, which can therefore alter how fast or slow ice cream melts. 

Can You Eat Melted Ice Cream?

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Rica Beltran

Yay and Nay. There isn't much research out there about the safety of eating melted ice cream, but if it is still cold it should be safe to eat. I mean, that's basically what soft serve is.

However, if the melted ice cream is warm and has been outside for a bit, err on the side of caution and don't eat it. Ice cream is a dairy product, and it's recommended that milk be kept at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less in order to prevent bacteria from growing. 

Can You Refreeze Ice Cream?

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Rica Beltran

Technically you can refreeze ice cream, but it probably will not taste very good. When ice cream melts, the water in it melts too. When you refreeze water, it expands into larger crystals. In addition, ice cream is made up of 30-50% air, thanks to a fluffing process. When it melts, the air that once gave it a fluffy texture escapes. The refrozen ice cream will result in a "rough and crunchy flavor". Yuck. 

Ice cream is a worldwide food favorite that is always gone too soon. It can't be savored for too long, or else it will end up as a puddle at your feet or melted in the bottom of your bowl. You can ensure your ice cream lasts as long as possible by keeping it in an airtight container at the back of your freezer. This prevents exposure to changing temperatures caused by opening and closing freezer doors. If you're enjoying your treat outside, beware of hot temperatures.

Next time someone complains about melted ice cream, make Bill Nye proud with a sciency explaination. Enjoy!