PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We are entering snow season, and almost every year on social media, someone posts a video of snow that doesn’t turn to water when it melts after being put up to a flame.
This gets followed up, often times, by conspiracy theories that the snow is fake or “modified”.
The video can be compelling, if you stop there.
You must follow through with the science, though.
Before you fall for a conspiracy, you should find out what is happening and what the snow is really composed of.
That is what we are doing today!
Let’s look at this melting snow that “doesn’t turn into water.”
Put a snowball in a bowl on the counter and see if it melts in room temperature air.
After it melts, see what is left behind. Hint: It’s water.
If you don’t have the time for it to melt on the counter, put the snowball in a pot and turn on the stove.
See if it melts, and what is left behind. You are going to find the same deal. It is water.
Hint: It does.
So, how come this snow does not appear to change to water when it melts in the video? Looks can be deceiving.
First of all, remember when water freezes it expands.
Knowing this and knowing there are air pockets in your snowball it is simple to realize that as the snow melts, it contracts in its water form.
This water is held (absorbed) in the air pockets of the snowball.
This will be the case until the snow runs out of space to hold that water.
Another important factor is that it sometimes doesn’t take much water to make a lot of snow!
This goes along with the water expanding as it freezes.
Sometimes, the conspiracy video that is shared shows the snow appear to scorch.
Again, that is not the case. The apparent “scorch” is actually carbon left over from the lighter.
We used a cleaner burning torch for our video, but if you use a butane lighter, the snow can become discolored, like the dirty snow on the side of the road from a car’s exhaust. Just on a smaller scale.
There is the real science to debunk the conspiracy of fake snow!