Why Is Hawaiian Punch Never Cold? Can I Freeze It?

When a Twitter user tweeted that Hawaiian Punch doesn’t get cold, it sparked a debate that took over the internet. As the debate continued, theories abounded as to why Hawaiian Punch doesn’t get cold. It …

refreshing blue hawaiian punch with pineapple and cherry

When a Twitter user tweeted that Hawaiian Punch doesn’t get cold, it sparked a debate that took over the internet. As the debate continued, theories abounded as to why Hawaiian Punch doesn’t get cold. It turns out science has a perfectly good explanation for the “phenomenon”. 

Hawaiian Punch never seems to get cold because it has a syrupy base with relatively high sugar content. Water freezes at 32 °F (0 °C). High sugar concentrations lower the freezing point to 31 °F (0.55 °C)  and below. So you CAN freeze Hawaiian Punch – but only at temperatures lower than 31 °F (0.55 °C). 

The rest of this article expounds on why Hawaiian Punch never seems to get cold and how you can find a workaround using science. If you, like many others, are interested in getting to the bottom of this mystery, keep reading.

man on a beach holding a glass of hawaiian punch

Can You Freeze Hawaiian Punch? 

Hawaiian Punch has been in the market since 1950. It was first developed by Tom Yates, A.W. Leo, and Ralph Harrison as a tropical-tasting syrup meant to be an ice cream topper.

Years later, they serendipitously found out that there was a market for the syrup as a fruit drink and started selling quart bottles of the concentrate in retail grocery stores. And the rest is history.

But can Hawaiian Punch actually be frozen? 

Hawaiian Punch can definitely be frozen. In fact, it was first sold as a frozen concentrate in 6-oz. (177.44-ml) cans in 1955 so consumers could add the concentrate to water as a fruity beverage. But this only begs the question of how Hawaiian Punch can be frozen when it can’t even get cold? (Source: Hawaiian Punch)

High sugar concentrations, which give syrup its viscosity, lower the freezing point because the sugar molecules impair the water’s ability to form hydrogen bonds. Hydrogen bonds are needed to achieve the solid state we see in freezing. 

When the freezing point is lowered because of a high solute concentration (such as sugar), this is called freezing point depression. As a rule, the higher the solute concentration, the lower the freezing point depression. (Source: Sciencing)

You can freeze Hawaiian Punch though there’s currently no tested freezing point for the punch. Still,  it can be inferred based on the science that we can freeze Hawaiian Punch by keeping it below 31 °F (0.55 °C) or even lower. This can be achieved by adjusting temperatures in your freezer. 

To freeze the punch at temperatures higher than 31 °F (0.55 °C), you will need to add water to dilute the concentration of solute. Remember, the higher the concentration, the lower the freezing point depression. Diluting the concentration raises the freezing point. 

It is also possible to increase the rate at which Hawaiian Punch freezes by freezing it in smaller quantities after diluting it. However, if your appliance has a deep freeze capacity, you don’t even have to worry about this.

refreshing blue hawaiian punch with pineapple and cherry

Can Hawaiian Punch Get Cold? Why Not?

Hawaiian Punch doesn’t get cold due to its freezing point depression. Since its freezing point is below 31 °F (0.55 °C), ice cubes won’t make it cold because they cannot achieve that temperature.

The freezing point of most liquids is also its melting point. The difference lies in whether you are adding heat or taking it away.  (Source: JLab Education)

Also, the freezing point of water is higher than that of Hawaiian Punch, which makes its melting point also higher. So at room temperature, the ice cubes will start to melt before they can make your Hawaiian Punch cold. This is why people report having melted ice cubes in Hawaiian Punch that did not feel cold at all. 

However, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to make Hawaiian Punch cold. It will eventually get cold if you keep it below its freezing point long enough. If you want to serve it cold at a party, you could dilute it before refrigerating to decrease its sugar concentration and raise its freezing point.

Instead of using water ice cubes, make Hawaiian Punch ice cubes, so they don’t melt as quickly.

It’s been mentioned above that the freezing point is also the melting point of most liquids. But in some mixtures or solutions, such as the Hawaiian Punch, the freezing point may be lower than its melting point. This makes it harder to keep cool for long periods.

So you may want to keep your Hawaiian Punch in a cooler dispenser with plenty of ice and serve it straight out of the refrigerator during get-togethers. 

Who knew that a tweet over something so seemingly random and insignificant could become so viral, spark an internet-wide debate, inspire memes, and spur people on a scientific journey of fact-finding? I bet you’ll never look at Hawaiian Punch the same way after this.