Quirks & Quarks

Quirks & Questions: Why do hot and cold water sound different?

It's all about heat, surface tension, colliding droplets and sound waves.
Water pours into a glass. (Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Our question this week comes from Paul Olt in Scarborough, Ontario, who has been puzzled for a long time by something he hears in his kitchen every day.

"When pouring boiling water, the sound is distinctly different from pouring cold water. What's behind this?"

Listen to the difference between hot and cold water being poured into identical containers:

Cold water sfx for question 0:04
Hot water sfx for question 0:04

Here to explain the science behind these sounds is Dr. Marsha Singh, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. 

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