STEAM Saturday – Tin Can Ice Cream! (8/12/23)

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM!! In this summer heat, there is nothing better than some delicious ice cream… Except turning ice cream making into a super cool science experiment!


Tin Can Ice CreamFor this scrumptious science lesson, you’ll need:

  • A large, clean tin can with a lid (a coffee can is ideal if you have one)
  • A smaller clean can or container with a lid that can fit inside the bigger can
  • Rock salt (also called ice cream salt)
  • Ice (you may need to refill your can several times, so make sure there’s plenty of ice on-hand)
  • Duct tape (optional, to secure the lid on your outer can

And, of course, you’ll need your ice cream ingredients. You can use any recipe you’d like, or try this one:

  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • A pinch of salt

Mix all of your ice cream ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into your small can/container and make sure the lid is on tight. Place this container inside your large can. Next, add layers of ice and rock salt in your large can, surrounding your small can. Then, put the lid on the large can and make sure it is secure (this is where some duct tape could come in handy).

Now comes the fun part! Your child becomes the ice cream mixer! Challenge them to find creative ways to get their ice cream mixture moving – shaking it, kicking it back and forth like a soccer ball, rolling it down the driveway… How can they have fun while churning their ice cream? You may have to take periodic breaks to replace the ice and salt in the can as it melts.

Tin Can Ice Cream

So… What’s happening inside the can that causes your mixture to turn into ice cream? When you add salt to ice, it lowers the temperature of the ice, which then lowers its freezing point. This means you are actually making the ice COLDER! When this happens, the ice cream freezes much faster than if you were to stick the ice cream mixture directly into your freezer.

After a period of time (anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours), your ice cream mixture will become creamy, yummy ice cream. After all that hard work and learning, it’s time to treat yourselves! Who knew science could be so tasty?

Check out the full experiment and the science behind it from Hess UnAcademy HERE!

As always, get as creative as you want, and above all, have lots of fun learning together!

We’ll see you right back here next Saturday for another STEAM Saturday activity!  Scroll through the rest of our website to learn how Critchlow Adkins is Building Brighter Futures for the children and families we serve!

Scroll to Top