You are a mad, demented evil scientist getting revenge on John Smith, a secret agent that has thwarted your plans one too many times. Intent on making Mr Smith suffer, you decide to capture his family and imprison them in your ice-prison. This ice prison is simply a roughly 2m by 2m by 1m cuboid with a human body in the middle (or thin enough such that the outlines of the body is visible). Mr Smith will, upon your invitation, go to the abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere and see his family as frozen, human trophies of yours.

The question:

How do you freeze humans inside said ice cube with them staying alive?


  • The ice surrounding the body must be entirely frozen

  • A few holes and maybe an air bubble surrounding the face is fine

Also, if staying alive in such conditions is possible, how much air does a frozen person consume per hour, if any?

  • $\begingroup$ How advanced technology do you have at your disposal? $\endgroup$
    – Danijel
    Mar 4 '17 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ I know that we have a few questions somewhere on air supply in cave systems; those may be of interest to you. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Mar 4 '17 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ Water expands when freezing, even inside the body--which is why frostbite turns the affected part blue: the capillaries burst. Now expand this concept throughout the body. When you defrost them, you'll basically have a pile of soup. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Mar 4 '17 at 12:41

You do not

How do you freeze humans inside said ice cube but them to remain alive?

Simple answer: you do not.

First you need to give him fresh air. Humans exchange at least 1 liter of air per breath, each breath raising the carbon dioxide level in that liter of air to about 4-5%, which is dangerously high. Once you get up to 7-8%, it starts to get life threatening.

Your cube contains at the very most $20 dm * 20 dm * 10 dm = 4,000 dm^3 = 4,000 liters$ of air, meaning that it holds about 4 000 breaths. Those will be expended in a few hours. And this is assuming you did not encase him in ice but made it an ice cell. So a breathing-tube is a requirement or he will die before you have even gotten the water to solidify.

But even if you give him a breathing tube, Mister Smith will die of exposure fairly soon. Even if you encase him in thermal insulation — like a wetsuit — you are still keeping him exposed to freezing temperatures all over his body. He will lose body heat and unless you constantly feed him, clothe him and let him move about, he will succumb to hypothermia within a few hours.


Unfortunately, you can't freeze a human solid and have them survive.

If a human is encased in a block of ice, their body temperature and the surroundings will have to be cold enough to not melt the ice. Hypothermia is defined as having a core body temperature of less than 35 degrees Centigrade, but clinical death will occur at less than 30. Since water starts melting at 0 degrees...they'd be dead long before they froze solid.

However, if the purpose is taunt Mr Smith with the preserved corpses of his family, this would work perfectly fine.


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