These extreme cold temps have brought about a lot of videos floating around the internet of people who boil water and then throw it up into the frigid outdoor air. The water, like magic, turns into snow. So here at GIC, we thought there would be no better way to spend our Monday than to put this little science experiment to the test.
Since we are all science nerds we wanted the scientific explanation for this seemingly magical transformation. Livescience.com explains the process in a recent blog. Basically, when we experience temperatures this low there is very little water vapor in the air. So when you throw the boiling water up into the air it breaks into even smaller chunks of water with more surface area for water vapor to come off of. The dense, cold air has very little capacity to hold vapor molecules. When the boiling water meets the air, the molecules cling to microscopic particles like sodium and calcium and form crystals. Hence the snowflakes.
For all of this to work you must have a huge temperature differential. We weren’t sure if we would get it to work even with the outside windchill being -17 degrees. Some blogs we read claimed it wouldn’t work if it was any warmer than -30. There was still some water that ended up hitting the ground, but we thought the explosion of powder was still pretty cool. We hope everyone is staying cozy and making the best of these chilling temperatures.