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40 Responses to “Boiling water turns into flash-frozen snow at -33C”

  1. rocketpjs says:

    I am furious that I grew up in Central Alberta, where 6 week periods of -40C were common in the winter, and nobody ever showed me this.  Awesome.

    • ryuthrowsstuff says:

      That’s really a bit depressing. I have a friend who travels quite a bit for work. This is the first thing he does after arriving in the frigid part of Alberta during winter time. I now associate the whole concept with Canada in general.

  2. Kenmrph says:

    That’s great!  Sadly I live somewhere that never dips below mid-30s F.

    • willyyam says:

       No, not sadly – this is fine to see on video from the warmth of “not there”.  I was 230km north of where this was shot, and the temperature and windchill brought it to -44C.  It’s like football – watching is better than being there :-)

  3. nixiebunny says:

    I can live with the disappointment of not getting to do this, in exchange for the joy of not having to live in that weather.  (I live in Arizona.)

    • Itsumishi says:

      I recently spent a few months in Toronto, then flew to Vancouver from Chicago via Phoenix, Arizona. It amused me a lot to hear the workers at Phoenix complaining about how cold it was at 68 degrees. 

  4. Paul Renault says:

    Lagostina pot!   Good man!

  5. Nylund says:

    This type of weather is exactly what I think about when my Canadian wife starts trying to convince me to move back to her hometown.  No thank you!  It’s t-shirt weather where we live right now!  Granted, summer is a different story. Montreal is a great city in the summer, and here?  It’s way too hot.

    • Itsumishi says:

      I’m sure these are the only two people to have performed this experiment in the history of man.

      In all seriousness though, the video you’ve linked to is very cool simply due to the from the ground camera angle.

  6. Jay Converse says:

    Windchill means nothing with pure physics, it’s a human-skin thing only.

    • Kenmrph says:

      Yes thank you! Wind chill is totally irrelevant to the demonstration at hand. I’d be curious to know the actual temperature, and if it just need to be below freezing to get this effect.

      • Paul Renault says:

        OK, so now do they measure windchill, eh?   Answer: the same way they measure relative humidity..

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2005/01/how_they_measure_wind_chill.html

        Edited to add: ..it’s a human-skin thing only.” Yup, it only affect humans….not lambs nor sloths nor carp nor anchovies nor orangutans nor breakfast cereals, and not fruit bats nor large chu…

      • Itsumishi says:

        The actual temperature is on both the title of the video (the youtube video, not Cory’s title) and the description below the video.

        As to your second question, no it needs to be well below freezing to achieve this affect. Remember the larger the difference in temperature, the faster the transfer of heat energy. Throw a pot of boiling water into the air at negative 2 celcius and you’ll end up with very hot water on the ground. An hour or so later you might have a frozen puddle.

    • Chris Bollinger says:

      Windchill does mean something with pure physics.  It is a relative measure of heat loss.  Which means that it effects everything, not just human skin.  The demonstration at hand happens in a short enough time frame that wind is not a factor, yes. 

    • dragonfrog says:

      Human skin is governed by pure physics, just like other things.  When there is a lot of air movement, warm surfaces don’t maintain a layer of warmer air near them (smaller delta-T between object & adjoining air), resulting in greater heat transfer.  This applies to all warm objects, not just humans (that’s why the upwind side of a building is often colder than the downwind side).

      I personally disagree with people referring to the temperature as “-30″ when it’s really “-22 and windy” – those are not the same thing.  You don’t dress the same for them, objects without internal heating do not settle at temperatures below ambient, etc.

      • “I personally disagree with people referring to the temperature as “-30″ when it’s really “-22 and windy” – those are not the same thing. You don’t dress the same for them…”

        You certainly don’t. I live in a very windy place and on the odd day that the wind calms down it always feels so damned mild. You only have to go a mile inland and it feels like a totally different climate – on a windy day it’ll feel a lot milder, on a calm day it’ll be cooler (magic of a windy south-coast town). I live in the UK though, so it’s not ‘freezing’ as much as it is ‘meh’, but the effect the wind has should never be underestimated.

        I hate the wind.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You must hate the dew point. But it’s the most useful measure in hot weather. Because evaporative cooling actually changes the temperature of your surface. As do the component parts of windchill, which are best summed up as ‘windchill’.

    • pjcamp says:

       I was about to say that. It is not a temperature correction. If you set that pot of water on the porch instead of throwing it, it would reach a final equilibrium temperature of -25 C not -33 C. Wind can play a factor in how fast it reaches that equilibrium temperature but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual temperature.

      Correcting the headline would be welcome. This is what comes of all those bananas in the same day.

  7. Tossing boiling water out the door when it is -40°F straight — no wind chill considered –used to be a popular pastime in my Montana town.  Now we are lucky to get below freezing some days!  Can’t even keep the outdoor ice rink frozen.

  8. robotropolis says:

    An acquaintance’s kid just found out the hard way to check the wind direction before trying this one. 

  9. BillStewart2012 says:

    I went to college in upstate New York, and there’d usually be a few weeks of -20F weather in the winter. A rumor that I can neither confirm nor deny says that residents of some of the dorms used to make snow the opposite way – they’d turn the showers in the dorm bathrooms on hot, and once it got steamy enough, they’d open the windows to let in cold air and make the snow there.

  10. ratherbfishin says:

    Is this really snow, as in the SOLID form of water? It looks to me like the water was merely dispersed to small droplets which then rapidly vaporized to the gas phase of water, which is invisible. You can see this as the cloud of “snow” rapidly dissipates rather than persisting or falling to the ground as snow or ice solids around 22-26 seconds. The snow where I come from doesn’t spontaneously disappear from sight. Further, even small amounts, around 1mL , of room temperature water may take several minutes to freeze in a -80C freezer. I doubt that boiling hot water, almost a gas energetically, is able to lose this much heat nearly instantaneously.

    • Mike Fischer says:

       I’ve been thinking very much the same thing this week as I’ve watched video after video of people creating large clouds of vapor and calling them snow.  Where is the snow?!?

    • louisleblanc says:

      Mind you the very small droplets would lose heat very quickly to the air due to their large surface area with respect to their volume. Also the very large difference in temperature between the water and the air creates lots of convection increasing the heat transfer quite a bit. I tried it yesterday and it very well looked like snow, certainly solid by the time it hits the ground. I’ll try to get my boss to bring the high speed camera and shadowgraph outside today to try and get a better look at this.

      • ratherbfishin says:

        Mostly EVAPORATION. Check link below.
         http://whyfiles.org/2011/ive-heard-of-people-throwing-boiling-water-in-the-air-on-cold-days-whats-happening-here/

    • “I doubt that boiling hot water, almost a gas energetically, is able to lose this much heat nearly instantaneously.”

      FYI Boiling water freezes faster than room-temperature water.

  11. Xabaras says:

    Nonna Maria needs to comment on this!

  12. Lurking_Grue says:

    Awesome… Still glad I am not in a place that cold.

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