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Fire versus ice: Video shows what happens when thermite meets a frozen lake

Why it matters to you

Well, you gain a physics lesson in the power of thermite with some added pyrotechnics.

It’s one of the great philosophical brainteasers that generations of intellectuals have stroked their chins over: What happens if you detonate a whole lot of thermite on a frozen lake? That is the question the folks behind YouTube channel Beyond the Press attempted to answer in their latest video, which follows a previous variation that introduced a red hot 20-kilo weight made of steel to the thick ice on the lake.

“The thermite versus. frozen lake idea has been on my mind for quite a long time,” YouTuber Lauri Vuohensilta told Digital Trends.

More: British mad scientist Colin Furze just built a fully operational thermite cannon

As Vuohensilta noted, there are a number of popular videos online pitting thermite against ice, usually by burning thermite on top of an ice block, resulting in some pretty dramatic explosions. That is (we think) because the heat from the burning thermite decomposes the water into hydrogen and oxygen, which then explodes when heated.

However, most people have not tried this experiment on such a large scale using a frozen lake.

So did it turn out to be the YouTube explosion of the century? As you will see from watching the video, not exactly.

“I wasn’t completely happy with the results,” Vuohensilta continued. “I think I am going to double the amount of thermite for the next try and use a different vessel. [But] I don’t want to overdo it because the explosion throws molten metal stuff all over the place, and I want to keep everything safe as possible.”

It’s not a waste of time, though. There is something weirdly fun about watching people investigate the quantity of thermite needed to melt through a frozen lake, even if they didn’t quite manage it on this occasion. And, hey, we now know that we want to visit Ylojarvi, Finland –provided they’re not shooting their follow-up video at that time.