Laboratory experiments have been performed to investigate the effects of salt exclusion on the behaviour of lakes with salinities up to 8 g L−1. At these salinities the freezing temperature is less than the temperature of maximum density and, unlike sea-ice, a reverse temperature stratification forms beneath the ice that can support at least some of the excluded salt. Temperature time series at four depths showed that salt exclusion drives cascades of localised overturning, while the persistence of reverse temperature stratification indicated that mixing was not complete. While our array of temperature sensors had insufficient spatial resolution to provide full details of the flow, we hypothesize that: at salinities of 1 and 2 g L−1 salt is released relatively uniformly and forms a layer of elevated salinity immediately below the ice, which supports double-diffusive salt-fingering; and at salinities of 4 and 8 g L−1, salt plumes penetrate the reverse stratification. After the ice melted, a relatively fresh surface layer formed above a more saline layer, sufficient to suppress spring turnover. Our measurements compare favourably with field observations from lakes, and highlight the importance of salt exclusion on biogeochemical processes in lakes.