Ice Fishing

Science can help us defy logic and get conversations going, and you don’t even need to be Stephen Hawking to do it. All you need to demonstrate this are some bits and pieces from around the house or office kitchen.

Guide lines
Ready, Steady, Go!

Have a glass of water, salt shaker, small bit of cotton thread and some ice on hand. Try get block ice cubes – round and novelty-shaped ice cubes can work against you.


How about we break the ice, but without breaking any actual ice?

Lend me your ears

Put a block of ice into the glass of water and reveal your piece of cotton thread.


I don’t want to do all the work… so if you don’t mind taking this piece of thread and using it to lift that block of ice out of the water without touching the ice with your hands.

The person should be game, but won’t have much success in trying to figure it out.


I don’t mean to be cold, but your ice fishing technique isn’t great.

Once they’ve finished trying to figure it out, ask them to hand over the thread.

Seal the Deal and Reveal

Lay the piece of thread along the top of the ice floating in the water, the more surface area of ice it touches the better.


My doctor said I should avoid salt, but this is a special occasion

Sprinkle some salt along the top of the ice, covering the thread and ice. Give it a few moments to bond.


Now through the power of science and, er, salt… behold

Gently lift the thread upwards. If you’ve gotten your bond correct, the block of ice should lift effortlessly from the water – stuck to the thread.

Some extra lines you can try

  • This is literally a bonding experience.
  • The suspense always has me hanging by a thread.
  • Without salt, I find this trick is a bit bland.
Alternative ending

Get all onlookers to have a go for themselves. Have a competition to see who can use the least amount of salt to lift an ice block

Anticipated responses and retorts

I thought you were trying cut down on salt?

I am trying to, but this is for a good reason.

Is this how you prepare for ice fishing?

More like fish and chips hopping at the local pubs.

Does that work with any kind of ice?

Just make sure it is a nice square block, and keep the drink chilled.
Good follow ups
When & where
When to use it
  • When you want to get people thinking like MacGyver.
  • When you want to get the curiosity going.
  • When you to throw some salt over your shoulder, you know, for luck.
Where to use it
  • the canteen
  • informal gatherings
  • team building events
  • at a restaurant
  • socializing at the bar
Getting ready
Items required
  • A glass of water (or any liquid really), some salt, a piece of cotton thread and an ice cube (try get a solid ice cube and not a designer rounded ice blob)
  • Make sure the liquid is cold so that the ice does not melt too fast.
Training required
  • Try this a few times and you will get the knack of it.
Watch out (potential unexpected effects)
  • Don’t throw salt in any wounds.

type type

Do It Yourself (DIY)

material material

a glass of water, a solid square ice block, salt and a piece of cotton thread

size size

a whisky glass size

durability durability

the ice will melt, so keep more ice handy

source source

the ether

time to impact time to impact

pretty much there and then

size of audience size of audience

one-on-one or a small group

possible health risk possible health risk

too much salt can be bad for you

reusable how many times you can use it

probably just once

training needed training needed

you may need to practice this a few times to get a feel for things

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