Boiling water experiment leading to burns
TORONTO – Admit it. You’ve done it.
You’ve gotten yourself a cup or a pot of boiling water and thrown it up in the cold air to make snow.
With the cold weather being so oppressive over the past few days, it seems like the only fun thing to do lately.
READ MORE: Will this be Canada’s coldest winter?
But, hopefully, before you did that, you made sure to throw it downwind.
It seems that a lot of people are forgetting to take the wind into account when trying this fun science experiment, and scalding themselves.
Am I the only one to receive a forehead burn while attempting to throw boiling water out into the cold?
— Cam (@KiIlaCam) January 7, 2014
No, Cam, no you aren’t.
So I tried to do the whole throw boiling water outside and it flew back and burned my arm so happy snow day to all
— Hallie Benjamin (@hbenjii) January 6, 2014
I think Jackie just got a third degree burn throwing boiling water outside trying to make snow
— mandy (@Mandyland_) January 7, 2014
Only me would try the boiling water trick and burn myself.
— Emily Elming (@emilyelming) January 7, 2014
Julien seems to understand that you can’t just take one part of science, but you have to take into account several factors:
Please don’t throw boiling water in the air today unless you understand 1) wind and 2) gravity. Hot water burn baby!
— Julien (@RoiJulien) January 7, 2014
As for the science behind making this kind of snow, this happens due to rapid evaporation.
Because there’s a big difference between boiling water and the air, the evaporation happens more rapidly. Boiling water is already closer to gas than cold water is, after all.
When you throw it up (and hopefully, away) from you, you separate the cup or pot of boiling water into smaller water droplets, thus increasing its surface area, allowing for a lot of evaporation.
Of course, yours truly had to try the experiment. I did, however, take into account the wind, how high up I was, as well as the amount of water used (minimal).
Science is fun, if not painful at times.
Correction: An earlier version of the story said that the surface area of the water droplets was decreased when thrown up in the air.
WATCH: Global’s Nicole Mortillaro threw half a cup of water out her window to make snow (she ensured that no one was below before conducting the experiment).
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