Another science hoax is sweeping the country, it seems. As two-thirds of the country is gripped in the clutches of a Polar Vortex, many are spending time outside in the cold trying to create instant snow.
Internet videos and stories are telling people to head outdoors in the subzero temps with a pot of boiling water. They claim when you throw the hot water into the freezing air, the result will be instant snowfall.
We hate to burst your frozen bubbles everyone, but this is a hoax. When you throw hot water into cold air, you do get a cool reaction of water vapor and condensation, but you don’t get snowflakes. Only some of the hot water will condensate, but most of it will fall back down to the ground. Many people have been burned after throwing hot water above their head and having it fall down on top of them.
If you want to try this on a safer, smaller scale, you will get the same result from placing a steaming cup of hot coffee in the freezer.
While the reaction of throwing the hot water into the cold air is pretty dramatic, it isn’t creating snowfall. Snowflakes are created when a water droplet attaches to a piece of dirt or dust in a cloud. The hot water droplets don’t have time to attach to anything before they fall back to earth.
If you are in the areas with extreme cold and want to use your scientific skills to experiment and learn, here are a few safe experiments to try. And remember, don’t stay outside very long. It doesn’t take a lot of time for skin to freeze or frostbite to set in. Go out in small bursts and get back where it’s warm.