In general, there is no clear physical indicator to tell if a drink is spiked or not, according to experts.
For years, claims have spread across social media platforms that a sign of a drink being spiked is if the ice contained in it isn't floating. Drink spiking is when someone puts alcohol or other drugs in someone's drink without their knowledge, according to The Conversation.
The most notable social media post we found that included the claim was an Instagram post from Oct. 16, 2021:
The Instagram post included sinking ice as a sign to recognize if a drink had been spiked or tampered with. Other signs included in the post included a foggy appearance, excessive bubbles, and a color change in the drink. At the time of publication, the post had over 600,000 likes.
On Reddit, we found a post alleging the same four claims had been shared in a Boston bar as ways to recognize that a drink had been tampered with. We found the claim that sinking ice in a drink meant it had been spiked posted on Twitter in April 2021, as well.
We also found the claim listed as a "telltale sign" a drink was spiked in a March 2023 article by BU Today, which is run by the marketing and communications department at Boston University. At least one Facebook post linked to the article. The source for the claim in the article was a 2019 article about how to tell if a drink was spiked that did not list sinking ice as one of the signs.
At the time of publication, there was no clear evidence that ice not floating in a drink meant that it was spiked — or that a person could tell by looking at a drink that it was spiked in general. We reached out to experts about the claims and will update this fact-check if we hear back.
According to reputable sources such as The Conversation and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN, a national anti-sexual violence organization), common indicators that a drink was spiked include difficulty breathing and feeling drunk when you have had little alcohol. These signs are physical symptoms and don't necessarily correlate with what the drink could look like.
Fact-checking organization Africa Check wrote in September 2021 that it was "far-fetched" that the behavior of ice in a drink would indicate if it was spiked. Pharmacology professor Duncan Cromarty told the organization:
The ice will definitely not sink after the addition of any drug. If the ice is floating in the glass when the spike is added there may be some sugar-like crystals visible on the ice until it is washed off.
Other experts told fact-checking organizations that ice in a drink wouldn't be impacted if it was spiked, as well. Professor Atholl Johnston, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London, told fact-checking organization Full Fact in November 2022 that for some drugs like LSD, the small amount needed to spike a drink "would never change whether the ice sinks or not."
As there is no clear evidence that ice will sink in a spiked drink, or that you can tell just by looking at a drink that it is spiked, and experts have said that that is a dubious assumption, we rated the claim Unproven.