Can you punch a hole into ice if you dive underneath it?
There is a certain fascination with diving under ice. There’s also anxiety around it if you do it. What if you get disoriented and you don’t find the hole you used to get into the water? Can you punch a new hole into the ice from underneath when you dive under it? Let’s find out!
If you’re not living in moderate and tropical climates then one thing you do face is that bodies of water can be frozen during winter. This opens an opportunity for many (or few) divers to go ice diving and explore a lake underneath the solid ice.
Can you or can you not break through the ice?
One question if you’re interested in looking at this type of diving might be whether you could break through the ice from underneath in case you had to. What do you think? Can you or not?
Well, the short answer is: it somewhat depends but usually not. If you have a solid layer of ice on top of a lake then there’s pretty much no way that you could break through that layer from below.
You simply don’t have the leverage to do so. And no leverage then you also have no chance to break through the ice as it is quite sturdy as you might find out yourself if you ever try.
How thin does it have to be to break it?
If it’s a really (and yes, we mean really!) a thin layer of ice then you potentially can get through. Otherwise, there’s pretty much no way as you can’t get enough power to break the ice.
Technically, you might have a chance to get through the ice with a pointy and sharp knife. Yet, even that often won’t work. The ice is way strong and sturdier than you would expect and anything thicker than a few millimeters will simply be too think and sturdy to get through.
All energy you can create to push against the ice is pretty much immediately lost once you hit the ice. And while you might think that the layer of ice is not very thick, it, unfortunately, is spread out pretty wide. And that absorbs pretty much any energy you can bring up from underneath.
Breaking glass works the same
It’s similar to the windshield of your car. You might think that a strong push against the glass or even a stroke with a hammer would break it. Yet, that’s not the case. The energy from the stroke or push gets absorbed as you’re not able to concentrate the energy in a little pin-point. Using instead a nail that you hold against the glass and then stroke the nail even pretty lightly with a hammer will get the glass to crack.
Don’t ask how we know this…. Let’s just go with: we do…
It’s similar to ice. If you push against it you’re basically the blunt hammer. The energy you produce gets absorbed without any serious damage to the ice. If you could concentrate your energy to a tiny point then you possibly can break the ice even if it only would be a hole big enough to poke your snorkel through.
So, in short, ice diving can be amazing and fun but there are risks to it. Breaking through the ice sounds like a nice emergency plan yet doesn’t count on it. If you’re running out of the air and have a frozen sheet of ice above your head you will be in trouble!
In the worst case, bring your own submarine: