Spraying hot water at -29.4C

In Minnesota, where it's -21F (that's -29.4C for everyone else), Birdchick is amusing herself with a spray-bottle full of hot water: shpritz it into the air and it turns into instant ice-needles that tinkle prettily to the frozen ground below. I love people who really know how to enjoy themselves, no matter what the weather's doing.

Too Cold To Go Birding (via Make)


  1. It’s currently -12 F here in Wisconsin, due to hit -19 later tonite. I gotta dig out my bubble solution & blow some bubbles outside. It’s a neat effect & they will actually shatter in mid-air, throwing rainbow reflective shards all over.

  2. That sounds like hilarious fun, Jim. One of the many benefits of living in wisconsin besides great beer, cheese, and greater appreciation of the sun and temperature above 10 degrees.

  3. Well I’m “everywhere else” and I think it’s 243.7K. Sounds so much better. Where I am now it’s 246K and I have a spray bottle, and ten minutes. Thanks Cory!

  4. is it juat me, because I’m on a poor connection in Indonesia or because bb has a phenomenal radar for this type of thing, but I feel like every second video I go to on this site gives me the “this video no longer available” message.

  5. Years ago I saw a TV clip where a weatherman threw a mugful of hot water into freezing cold air and got an awesome instant snow plume. The water was hot to keep it from freezing in the mug.

    I’ve also heard you can blow frozen bubbles if it’s cold enough.

  6. If you were crying in these temperatures would your tears freeze over or is your face too hot? Someone investigate!

  7. Personally, I prefer people that are just constantly unhappy, and generally unable to enjoy themselves – irregardless of external conditions such as the weather.

  8. -29.4C??? But that’s too cold for life! That’s below absolute zero (for very high values of absolute zero…)! She must belong to some race of superhumans with antifreeze for blood, everybody panic!

    Seriously though, I’m never going to complain about the temperature in Scotland again. That’s just not right.

  9. “Hot water does become ice faster that cold water.”

    No, it does not.
    Per unit, the hot water takes longer to freeze (of course)

    This myth comes from the following:
    If you were to take two same size buckets of water and put them outside into below freezing weather, one boiling and one room temp. The boiling bucket can freeze faster. But since a lot of the boiling water evaporates, you end up freezing LESS water, and a lower volume of water will freeze faster.

    A typical scenario might end up something like: you freeze 80% of the water in 90% of the time compared to the room temp bucket.
    It actually takes longer, per unit, but the volume difference makes it seem like it freezes faster.

  10. I lived in Yellowstone National Park for a few years. Things almost always got interesting when temps dipped below -40: Burst pipes spewing thousands of gallons of water into the lobbies of federally owned buildings that had been slapped together by the lowest bidder, shack happy old-timers slinging boiling hot coffee at the eyes of newbies, (with a muffled “woof” sound that I imagine you’d get by jumping into a pile of feathers, it would be transformed by the cold into harmless fluff upon leaving the pot), and snow vehicles frozen in place. Skiing from place to place was the norm, then. As soon as you stepped outside, your clothes would rustle and crackle as imperceptible moisture hidden in the fibers crystallized. No matter how warmly dressed you are in that sort of weather, you might still get an “ice cream headache” on a short 1/2 mile trek. Even so, standing near Old Faithful Geyser, watching as superheated water and steam shoot hundreds of feet into the air, crackling and tinkling as it condenses and falls to the ground in chunks and splinters is a pretty unforgettable thing…

  11. @#12 At very low temps, I’ve had my eyelashes freeze together in a blink, so, yeah, your tears would freeze for certain. Something about the way serious cold seems to induce a kind of survival-oriented shock that makes me doubt you’d care about anything enough to cry about it until you were someplace warm, tho. Unless you were crying because your nice, warm shelter had somehow disastrously vanished.

  12. Not only will your tears freeze, but the vapor in your breath will freeze on your eyelashes and eyebrows, and guys with facial hair (well, erm, gals with facial hair, too) get huge clumps of ice frozen in that from their breath.

    You also shouldn’t go outside with wet hair in weather that cold. Not because you’ll catch a cold, but any hair not in direct contact with your scalp (or sheltered by a hat) will freeze…and you can actually break your hair off.

    One winter in northern Illinois the actual air temperature was -27F…the wind was blowing at 35mph…which resulted in a wind chill factor of a mind-boggling -80F — my father had to go out (we all had the flu and the dr was kind enough to phone in the scripts) — and his car froze up…while it was running. It froze as he pulled back into the driveway after driving 15 minutes to the pharmacy — so it *should* have been plenty warm enough to not freeze.

  13. Minnesotans are cheerful about weather like this. I’ve been here for seventeen years and I still don’t like it. My type tend to take our only comfort at the slight bragging rights we get for surviving it.

    Tune in next Tuesday, when we’ll be over 0 degrees Celsius/32 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time in a while and the craziest of us go out in shorts. Seriously.

  14. Antinous, so glad you’re enjoying those balmy temps in the land of the near-dead. Here in Michigan, where we laugh at the cold (ha ha ha, my fingers are frozen)! 1t’s – 12 right now. Who needs warmth?!

  15. I just had to listen to a tirade by my poor son who is complaining that he has to sit on a roasting-hot bus this afternoon for an hour. It’s going to be 78F this afternoon! You could fry eggs on the sidewalk! Arggggghh!

    Kids these days. I swear! When I was his age, I had to walk uphill in the snow 14 miles to *and* from school.

    (I was born in Minnesota and live in Tucson.)

  16. There is a common misconception that the water here is freezing before it hits the ground. In fact what is happening is that the air at -30 degrees is incredibly dry, and the water is evaporating into steam.

  17. @#12, I can confirm that tears freeze. When I was walking to work yesterday, it was -35degF with wind chill in Madison, Wisconsin. My eyes always tear up in the wind, and I had to brush the frozen tears off of my eyelashes and face every minute or so.


  18. When you live somewhere that gets cold in the winter, the only solution is to embrace to cold (even at the risk of freezing your tongue to a flagpole).

    If you are bundled-up, even the minus temperatures aren’t bad.

    As for here, it’s 4.0 F (-15.5555556 C) (257.594444 K) now, so I’m wearing shorts. I don’t even want to tell you what it is outside.

  19. back when I was a boy we had to walk to school in -40C uphill, both ways, and we didn’t have shoes so we had to wrap barbed wire around our bare feet for traction.
    Seriously though, I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and last year it hit -45C for a week straight. Not that this is a pissing contest, actually, one usually doesn’t want to engage in pissing contests when it’s -45.

  20. Oh yah sure you betcha.

    When I came back to MN over the holiday, I knew I was home when every one lit up their cellphones when we landed and said, “hey dere, I’m here ya know”. After being in VA for 5 months, I was back in the land of gosh and pop.

  21. @Euthanaut: One of the rules of cold-weather survival I learned was “At -30, it freezes when it hits the ground. At -40, it freezes on the way down. At -50, you wait for -40”.

  22. At -30F you can take a two quart pot of boiling water outside and throw it in the air it comes down as snow. Just pay attention to the wind direction when doing it!

  23. About -20F or so (and sunny! yay!) here in Toronto this morning, with windchill. I had icicles on my eyelashes while I waited on the platform for the train (I was out there for approximately 5 minutes). My wife thought it was very cool, as she’s from Dublin and they never see this kind of weather… I was less impressed.

  24. I’ll second (or third?) the comments about tears freezing. I grew up in Fargo where it’s bitterly cold *and* windy. On my 6 block walk to school the wind would make me cry, and the cold would freeze my lashes together.

    Also, my friends and I tried throwing boiling water in the air during a particularly cold spell (-40F), and it did indeed come back down as snow. Neat.

  25. @#26 – Say hi to the Cholla for me. :(

    /Sabino High grad, ’86
    //Left right after
    ///Still miss the Sonora

  26. Reminds me of Winnipeg: The lowest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was −47.8 °C (−54.0 °F), on December 24, 1879. The coldest wind chill reading ever recorded was −57.1 °C (−70.8 °F), on February 1, 1996.

    I was there in late december and it got to the mid -30s. Coldest city in the world above 500,000 people.

  27. I love my homestate.

    What else can I say.

    -abs loves Massachusetts as well, but man the people out here are wussies, just can’t take the cold

  28. Hello from beautiful Minneapolis. I have to say that after several days of -15 to -20 degree (F) temps, I’m getting used to it. That may be because I walk about a mile to get to and from work, every day.

    In case you are curious, here is how I’ve done this for several years now. The key to staying warm is layers: this really applies when the temps get below 0 degrees (F). I start with long underwear, pants, and wind pants, then a wind breaker under my 2-layer Columbia Interchange coat. On my head I wear a Land’s End fleece windproof hat with has those flaps that wrap under my chin, a thick balaclava with elastic drawstrings and toggles, and my jacket hood over the top. Finish with two-layer Grandoe ski gloves. On really cold days, I add a Gore-Tex overmitten that goes up to my elbows. I didn’t use the mitts today, even though it was -21. I keep my feet warm but dry with SmartWool-type socks, and a pair of medium-weight hiking boots (Adidas this season).

    I stay very comfortable. My biggest problem is fogging glasses. Really.

    Tears do freeze eyelashes together. My corneas are a little sore/dry because I’ve been outside in the wind a bit too much. But that is the worst of it.

    It’s supposed to warm up this weekend — my family will all be going north to my sister’s place, for x-country skiing and snowshoeing, followed by a soak in the hot tub. Get out in the weather — winter is a blast.

    FYI: The boiling water trick works best with a cup or sauce pan. It’s pretty amazing to expect the splash but only get a swoosh and then a tinkling sound.

    Happy January!

  29. That was misrepresented. I was hoping to see some kind of superhero weapon. Instead it looked like someone spraying a spray bottle.

    Excellent accent, though.

  30. Greetings from Texas, where the weather is 70, no 40, no 75, no 30 / Sunny, wait, Snow, wait, Sunny. It’s lovely in the land of ‘Don’t like the weather? Wait ten minutes, it’ll change.’

    It’s typical here to have an 80 degree weekend and then get 20 minutes of snow on Monday.

  31. I live in Ottawa, it was -29 this morning when I walked across a bridge over the Ottawa River, the stream that was rising stuck to my eyelashes leaving icicles.

  32. Lol! I thinks its cute how everyone is commenting on her accent. I’m from Wisconsin, and don’t hear any accent with her…

  33. My cousin lives in Bemidji Minnesota, a couple blocks from the University where he is a professor. He emailed me on Tuesday to let me know it was 34 below zero when he walked to work Monday morning. The following day it was ‘only’ 20 below, prompting him to say that “everyone was talking about how much warmer it was. Bemidji folks can be a little strange.”

    I love Minnesota. In the summer.

  34. Nahah BadKittyM, I know you di’n’t just say that.

    Minnesota summers are dominated by the gravest threat humanity has ever faced: Minnesota mosquitos.

    It’s not my fault we breed ’em so big up there, but we do.

    -abs isn’t certain he believe the story of the mosquito that landed in the MSP airport and had a fuel truck pull up to fuel it . . . but he’s not sure he doesn’t believe it either

  35. I don’t see it (the ice crystals, that is), but I’m planning on living in Minnesota next year, and I’ve been watching with dread the temperature dip into the way-below-zeros out there.

    I have to say that this delighted me, if only that people are enjoying themselves despite the unbelievable cold.

  36. absimiliard – Indeed, I did say that, and I mean it. I LIKE humidity. I don’t mind mosquitos, as they do not seem to be particularly drawn to me (or perhaps it’s the 100% Deet I use when I’m there in August). What’s not to like? It’s warm but not that hot, the fishing is great, the water is nice and the company outstanding. My Father grew up in a tiny cabin on the shores of Little Wolf lake, and most of his family still lives around the area. So, I’ve spent many a block of summertime there.

  37. So the reason she has hot water is so that it wont freeze in the nozzle?

    Or that cold water will produce a coarser spray of ice, whereas hot water produces the steam?


  38. We’ve been outdoors skating in Mnpls every night this week for hours at a stretch. -20 is fun — and i’m a transplant! Yay Hockey Day. (The brainscrubbing was slow but thorough.)

  39. Also, here is a video of a boiling mug of water being thrown in the air on a -20 C day in Wisconsin. The funky salsa music in the background frames the bitterly cold day nicely!

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