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Making Ice Cream In a Bag Experiment

Uncover the captivating science of making "ice cream in a bag" and find out how to craft your own delicious frozen treat with only a few ingredients! This hands-on activity not only provides a tasty reward, but also offers an interesting chemistry challenge that explores freezing point depression, melting ice, and more. It’s also a basic cooking lesson on how to make ice cream.

You can enjoy this homemade ice cream for fun, or adapt the science experiment for educational purposes by customizing it for different age groups while encouraging scientific observation and recording. Read on for steps, ideas, and ideas for additional ingredients to enhance and customize your ice cream!


Table of Contents:

  • Make Your Own Ice Cream in a Bag - A Fun and Easy Experiment.
  • Why Is Salt Added to the Ice Cream When Making Ice Cream in a Bag?
  • Exploring Variations with Different Salts and Amounts
  • Make Chemistry Fun with Ice Cream in a Bag Experiment
  • Upgrade Your Homemade Ice Cream Game with Alternative Ingredients and Flavors
  • Another No-Churn Method: Blender Ice Cream
  • Conclusion


Make Your Own Ice Cream in a Bag - A Fun and Easy Experiment.

Ice cream in a ziploc bag with funfetti sprinkles next to it

Photo Credit: Delish

Constructing DIY ice cream in a Ziploc bag is a quick and easy science experiment that takes less than 10 minutes. All you’ll need are household ingredients such as milk, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and ice cubes. And don’t forget the gallon-sized bag, and other ice cream bags!


Ingredients You'll Need:
  • Milk or heavy whipping cream (1 cup)
  • Sugar (2 tablespoons)
  • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • Ice cubes (4 cups)
  • Salt - preferably rock or kosher salt (6 tablespoons)

*Optional: add-ins like sprinkles, chocolate syrup, cookie crumbles, etc.

Step-by-Step Process:
  1. In a plastic bag, mix together the milk or heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract then firmly close it.
  2. Fill a larger ziplock bag (gallon size is usually sufficient) with ice cubes and add salt.
  3. Place the smaller bag with the milk mixture inside the larger bag with ice and salt.
  4. Shake the ice cream bag for about 5-10 minutes until the ice cream mixture turns into frozen ice cream.
  5. Remove the smaller bag, scoop out the ice cream, and enjoy.

This activity not only provides a tasty treat, but also teaches about science concepts like freezing-point depression and the role of salt in lowering the temperature at which water freezes. It’s a teachable activity that focuses on chemistry, as well as a useful lesson on how to make ice cream.


Why is Salt Added to the Ice Bag When Making Ice Cream in a Bag?
Pink and white salt in measuring cup

Salt is essential to achieving the ideal texture of homemade ice cream, as it lowers the freezing point of water. Adding salt to the ice decreases the freezing point, creating a more velvety consistency.

Salt breaks up the hydrogen bonds between water molecules, leading to a temperature below 0°C in the plastic bag. This colder environment enables small solid crystals to form throughout the liquid base, ultimately resulting in deliciously smooth ice cream.


Why we add salt when making ice cream
  • Faster freezing: Salt lowers the freezing point, which means your homemade ice cream will freeze more quickly.
  • Better texture: The rapid formation of tiny ice crystals ensures that your homemade treat has an appealingly smooth and creamy texture.
  • Easier preparation: Using common table or rock salts instead of specialized equipment like an electric churn makes it easy to create your own frozen dessert.

So, the next time you make homemade ice cream, don't forget the salt! If you’re doing this experiment as an educational experience, you can use this lesson about salt as a classroom learning moment during this science activity. Overall, this is a great lesson on how to make ice cream as well as a lesson on freezing point.


Exploring Variations with Different Salts and Amounts

For a deeper dive into the chemistry behind this science experiment, try using various types of salt—like rock salt and kosher salt—or adjusting the amount used to observe how it affects the freezing process. You can also compare bags with only ice cubes and no salt added, noting that without salt, the mixture remains fluid and does not harden into ice cream. This is because the freezing point is higher.

Table salt (sodium chloride) has smaller crystals than rock salt (halite), which could lead to a smoother texture in your final product, while rock salt might create larger ice crystals resulting in a more granular texture. Experiment with both types of salts to find out which one works best for you. Part of the fun of science activities is getting creative with your variations and keeping track of the results.


Adjusting Quantities for Optimal Results
  • Increase Salt: Adding more salt will lower the freezing point even further, but be cautious about adding too much as it can make your ice cream taste salty.
  • Decrease Salt: Reducing the amount of salt will raise the freezing point slightly. However, if there isn't enough salt present in your ice cream mixtures, they won't solidify properly, leaving them soft rather than frozen like the desired results typically seen when following recipes closely.


Make Chemistry Fun with Ice Cream in a Bag Experiment: Adapting for Education

Vanilla softy with caramel drizzle and caramel corn

Ice cream in a bag isn’t just a classroom science experiment—it’s also a quick and easy way to make homemade ice cream that’s easily customizable. Take your homemade ice cream to the next level by experimenting with alternative ingredients and flavors for a more indulgent and exciting frozen treat.


Richer Textures with Alternative Dairy Products
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Swap out regular milk for this high-fat option to yield a creamier texture and fuller flavor. Whipping cream will create a creamy ice cream more similar to your traditional ice cream.
  • Half-and-Half: Strike a balance between richness and lightness by using the blend of whole milk and heavy cream that is half-and-half.
  • Dairy-Free Alternatives: Try coconut milk, almond milk, or oat milk as substitutes for a lactose-free or plant-based option.
  • Add-Ins: Stir in sprinkles, chocolate chips, and other mix-ins to customize your flavor.


Unique Flavors to Elevate Your Ice Cream

Move beyond vanilla extract and try these tasty twists:

  1. Mint extract paired with chocolate chips for a refreshing spin on mint chocolate chip ice cream.
  2. Cinnamon mixed with brown sugar swirled throughout creates an irresistible cinnamon bun-inspired treat.
  3. Fresh fruit purees such as strawberry or mango blended into the base add natural sweetness and vibrant color.

With these alternative ingredients and unique flavors, you'll master the art of homemade ice cream that everyone can enjoy.

Another No-Churn Method: Blender Ice Cream

If you enjoy ice cream making during this experiment and want to try another method, try a blend-and-freeze ice cream mix like Hijinx. With Hijinx, you can simply blend ice cream mix with water and your favorite ingredients, then freeze! Using an ice cream mix is a little less hands-on than the bag experiment, in that the blender/Hijinx takes care of all the work and chemistry, so you can simply flex your creativity. Hijinx turns the process of ice cream making into a fun activity that all ages can enjoy.



Get ready to make your own frozen treat with the ice cream in a bag experiment - it's easy, fun, and delicious! It’s a great way to experience the science behind freezing point depression by adjusting salt quantities and types for optimal results. Plus, the “bag recipe” is a legitimate and easy way for beginners to make homemade ice cream. Whether you're a home baker or DIY enthusiast—or a budding scientist—the ice cream in a bag experiment is definitely worth a try!

Making homemade ice cream is a fun and rewarding experience. Plus, it gives your creativity a chance to shine! If you want to learn about another way to create ice cream that doesn’t require a plastic bag, you may want to try an ice cream mix that you simply blend and freeze. Want to learn more about how to make ice cream with an ice cream mix? Visit HijinxIceCream.com for more!


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