Fight the freeze with instant-snow science experiment

The frigid temperatures sweeping the upper Midwest and Northeast provide the perfect conditions for turning boiling water into snowflakes.

Ready for more snow?

Some are facing the freezing temperatures across the upper Midwest and Northeast with frivolity, turning a dreaded deep freeze into a science experiment by transforming boiling water into instant snowflakes.

In YouTube videos, people are taking pots of boiling water, tossing the water into the air and watching as it gently drifts back down as snow. One man recorded himself throwing boiling water off a balcony.

How it works

There is some simple science at work behind the stunning transformation.

According to PhysLink, "the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between two objects." The bigger the difference in temperature, the faster an object will lose heat.

That means that boiling water in Embarrass, Minn., where it was minus 36 degrees Monday, could lose all its heat extremely rapidly.

According to PhysLink, that boiling water is close to steam also helps turn it into snow. Because steam and hot water are less dense than cold water, throwing it into the air will break it up into tiny drops, allowing heat to evaporate quickly. This wouldn't work with cold water because it is more dense. It would fall as cold blobs instead.

But just how cold does it need to be for this to work?

The Weather Network recommends a chilly minus 30 degrees. It also advises trying the experiment on a dry day. Check your local weather conditions to see if the temperature is right to stage your own snow storm.

Related from MSN:

Sub-zero temperatures linger across Midwest, Northeast

Photo gallery: Chill grips the East Coast, Midwest

Video: Midwest bundles up in bitter cold


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