Posts tagged ‘ice’

Why Bars Put Ice in the Urinals

Ladies probably don’t know this, but the urinals in men’s bathrooms, usually at bars or clubs, sometimes have ice in them.

ice in urinal

Even though many men have seen this, they don’t usually know why it’s there.

Well, auto flush exists because some people don’t flush. Urinal cakes exist because some people don’t flush. So of course, ice exists in urinals because some people don’t flush. (more…)

July 31, 2013 at 2:00 am 46 comments

Urinals are Not Just for Men

By Chad Upton | Editor

Urinals are common in most men’s bathrooms, but they’re rarely seen in the ladies room. But, maintains a short list of ladies rooms with urinals built just for women. It’s not a complete list, but it’s a curious one.

Ladies’ urinals haven’t caught on for a variety of reason. First of all, they’re confusing. They are often very different from men’s urinals, so women aren’t sure if they should be used forward or backward. Also, they’re not as practical for females because of differences in anatomy and the types of clothing that men and women wear.

Urinals are very common in men’s rooms of course. But, there are some surprises there too.

For example, most guys have probably come across this in a bar at some point, whether they remember it or not: some bars and clubs fill the men’s urinals with ice during busy times.

People are inherently bad at flushing public toilets, likely because they want as little contact as possible with these appliances. Therefore, many public restrooms have automatic flush toilets. But, a much cheaper option is to use ice. You see, when urine melts the ice, the water from the melted ice dilutes the urine and flushes away the smell. It’s a low-tech automatic flush system.

Also, melting ice is fun, so it improves aim and that reduces the number of bathroom cleanings that are required.

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Sources: Wikipedia (Urinals)

Photo: Christian Church (cc)

April 29, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Fertilizer Can Melt Snow and Ice

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you need to boil water while cooking, the recipe may suggest that you add salt to the water. This salt is not for taste, it’s for efficiency. The salt lowers the heat capacity of water, making it boil with less energy (heat) from your stove. It also raises the boiling point of the water slightly, although not significantly. In other words, it helps you get the water hotter and in less time than if you didn’t add salt.

Salt also has an affect on the freezing point of water — it lowers it. This is important to understand during winter, especially if you have a driveway or sidewalk to keep clear. Because salt lowers the heat capacity of water (or snow/ice), it’s takes less energy (heat) to melt. This only happens down to about 15°F (-9°C). Below that, salt is not very effective because it cannot dissolve at those temperatures.

Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the usually the cheapest of all the ice melting products. There are a variety of alternatives that are effective at lower temperatures.

You should be careful when choosing an ice melter. Most ice melting products, including salt, are corrosive and can damage concrete, especially if it’s very new concrete. They can also be harmful to vegetation and grass. (more…)

February 25, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Fake Smoke is Not Usually Dry Ice

I frequently hear people refer to fake smoke as “dry ice.” It’s true, you can make smoke from dry ice. But, in many cases, it’s dangerous and inconvenient.

That’s why they invented fog machines. Fog machines are made up of a small heater, a fluid reservoir and a pump. These machines vaporize mineral oil, glycol or glycol/water mixtures to produce fog. Low powered machines for home use are pretty affordable, you can get a decent one from Amazon for $40. Around Halloween, many other stores carry them too.

Fog machines are great for enhancing lighting effects and creating an eerie mood. The fog usually fills the room from floor to ceiling, but cooling the fog with ice creates layered fog that stays below your knees.

In sixth grade, my friend Troy and I had a vision for our school air guitar competition. He saw himself as lead lip sync-er, rocking out to Tone Loc’s Wild Thing. I didn’t know that song when he mentioned it, nor did I care — I just wanted lots of smoke and lasers.

I called a few equipment rental houses and got quotes to rent a fog machine and lasers. It was a hefty amount for an 11 year old, but I was making a name for myself in the newspaper delivery business and I was willing to spend the money — I knew that lasers would help us win the competition.

I shared my creative vision with the drama teacher and he said, “no smoke.” He had worked with dry ice before and said it makes the floor slippery; it was a liability he wasn’t willing to take on. I told him, “people don’t use dry ice anymore — there is new technology that is completely dry and doesn’t make the floor wet.” He wouldn’t listen and said his decision was firm: no smoke. Without smoke, you can’t see lasers, so that meant we were back to the boring house lights.

I told Troy that smoke and lasers were off. He could tell I was upset, but he said with great confidence, “It’s alright. We’ll still win.” Comparing our rehearsals to the other groups, I knew he was wrong

In the end, smoke and lasers wouldn’t have made a difference. You see, Troy was the most hyper kid I knew. On the day of the show, he focused all of that energy into his performance and he completely stole the show.

That day I learned, you don’t need smoke to see lasers. Everybody has amazing potential and the secret lies in how you focus that energy.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Theatrical Smoke, Fog Machines, Dry Ice

May 17, 2010 at 8:11 am 5 comments

Watering Hard to Reach Plants

I did an interview with the BBC a few weeks ago and I was on the show with Caroline Bloor, head of consumer testing at Good Housekeeping. I shared a few secrets with the audience and she shared a few secrets too, including how to water hard to reach plants.

If you’ve got hanging plants or otherwise hard-to-reach botanicals, you’ve probably overshot the pot with the watering can.

Instead, trying putting ice cubes in the pot. They’ll melt slowly and water the plant. They’re much easier to water with and if you drop one, it’s much easier to clean up than its thawed relative.

Thanks for sharing this secret, Caroline.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Photo: ell brown (cc)

May 7, 2010 at 12:14 am 1 comment

Use Hot Water To Make Crystal Clear Ice Cubes

Ice made from cold water looks cloudy because air that is trapped in the water become suspended in the ice. If you boil water before pouring it in the ice cube trays, you release most or all of the air that would otherwise be trapped in the water — making the ice cubes crystal clear.

Crystal clear ice cubes look great when used with designer ice cube trays. For any holiday or event, designer ice cubes are a cool thing to entertain guests and spark conversation.

Ikea has a few designer ice cube trays that you can pickup or Amazon has hundreds available for delivery, including: Christmas Trees and Snowmen, Penguins, Ice Invaders, Peace Signs, Hearts, Homer Simpson, Stewie (Family Guy), Stars, Skull and Crossbones, Butterflies, Dinosaurs …etc.  They even have molds to make Shot Glasses and Stir Sticks out of ice.

Another secret: the ice cube trays can also be used as Jello molds!

Remember, you’ll have to boil water to make it hot because you can’t use hot water from the tap – explained here.

Sources: Illinois Dept Physics

December 24, 2009 at 1:05 am 4 comments

The Fastest Way to Chill Drinks

Perhaps your guests just arrived and you forgot to put beer in the fridge. Or, maybe you just got a phone call and your hair appointment on Thursday has been canceled  Either way, you need cold drinks, stat. This secret will chill your drinks in 5 minutes flat.

  1. Half fill a container with your drinks.
  2. Fill the remaining space with ice.
  3. Add salt and stir for 30 seconds.
  4. In 4.5 minutes you’ve got cold drinks.

The salt speeds the melting of the ice. The melting ice absorbs heat from the drinks which in turn makes the drinks get colder.

Here’s a little demo from down under with a fancy thermometer:

December 9, 2009 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

The Secret Marks on McDonald’s Cups

The secret marks are all about ice. How much ice is too much? Are you getting ripped off? Why are they so concerned with how much ice goes into the cup? Let me tell you…

McDonald's Cup Lines

Firstly, for credibility and disclosure, I should mention that I worked at McDonald’s for a while during high school. This was one of the most interesting, enlightening and dirty jobs I’ve had.

One of the most surprising things was their commitment to quality. I know that’s kind of an oxymoron, but keep in mind they’re dealing with burgers and fries, not White Alba truffles. Regardless, they take burgers and fries very seriously. They employ top culinary experts to perfect things such as, the exact amount of mustard their proprietary dispenser puts on a burger. They hand pick only the best potatoes for the fries, according to one training video. They also have proprietary shortening for cooking the fries and a different shortening recipe for nuggets and fish fillets.

Their attention to detail includes regular calibration of the soda dispenser. This ensures the proper mix of water, syrup and carbon dioxide for the perfect Coke. There are also buttons that represent each cup size to automatically fill the cups while the cashier gets the rest of your order. It is important that the exact amount of ice is put in your cup, otherwise the calibrated machine will not fill the cup to the top mark on the cup.

Let’s take a step back, there is a large machine in the back of the restaurant that supplies the soda machine with all of the ingredients. It compresses air for the carbonation, filters tap water and holds all of the various syrup flavors. There is tubing that carries all of these supplies to the front of the store where the soda dispensers are. There is no refrigeration in any part of this system, so they have to put enough ice in your cup to take the drink from room temperature, to ice cold — before you take your first sip.

On the internet, there are many complaints about too much ice in these drinks. People complain that they’re being ripped off. While I agree, there is a lot of ice in these drinks, if you compare the price per ounce, it’s still cheaper than canned drinks. Some people don’t mind room temperature soda and ask for it with “no ice” and some people even ask for “extra ice” so it’s extra cold.

Extra ice doesn’t sound that strange if you have one of those fancy fridges with an ice maker. Maybe you’ve experimented with different amounts of ice, and if you’ve ever completely filled a cup with ice you may agree that a super cold soda is the best kind there is.

November 19, 2009 at 11:28 pm 16 comments

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