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This Is Why Lemons Float but Limes Sink

A glass of water has lemons and limes in it, and lemons and limes sit around it.
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You and a friend have ordered drinks at the bar, except yours came with lime and theirs has lemon. Despite the similarities of the citrus, your limes are sinking to the bottom while the lemons are floating. Why?

The difference between lemons and limes is all about density.

While lemons and limes have incredibly similar looks, skins, and flesh, there is one area where they aren’t similar (other than flavor): density. This is the mass per unit of volume. Objects that are less dense than liquid will float, and objects that are denser will sink.

While lemons and limes both have densities that are similar to that of water, lemons are closer to the liquid. This is what allows them to float. While the difference in density between them and limes is small—roughly 1% difference—it’s enough to cause limes to sink.

Now, does this make any difference when it comes to flavor or experience? No, it doesn’t. However, if you’re making cocktails and want the perfect garnish, it might be something worth considering.

The next time you’re infusing water with citrus or ordering a cocktail, share some of this fun, fruit trivia and impress your friends.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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