Most materials are actually more dense as solids than liquids, but water (and anything containing water) is unusual in this respect; its molecules sit further apart when it is crystallized as ice. This is because water molecules are polar, meaning that they have a small positive charge at one end and a negative charge at the other. When molecules sit together in a solid, this attraction makes a different pattern than in other solids. The molecules are held apart, so the same amount of water will take up more space.
This means that in bodies of water, ice will collect on top and leave a safe, warmer space for organisms underneath. Without this unique property of water, life could probably not exist.
Normally liquid does not expand when it is frozen. One of the few exceptions in which it expands is in the case of water. This is because of the shape of a water molecule. Although in normal chemistry, it should be a linear molecule, it has a peculiar bent shape that helps to form hydrogen bonds and forms a hexagonal, crystal lattice shape.
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