Science Course with Ryan Morse: Texas ‘fake’ snow theory debunked

News

(WFRV) – The internet is at it again. You may have remembered the record breaking cold that brought most of Texas snow in February.  

Viral videos on TikTok and other social media platforms claim that the snow is in fact “fake” or “man-made”. Conspiracy theories blame anything from “the government” to even “Bill Gates” for this supposed fake snowfall. 

One of many of these viral videos:

The claims all revolve around an experiment that shows a lighter being held up to a snowball 

Social media claims that since the snowball does not melt and quote on quote burns, it is fake snow. This reaction can easily be explained so let’s set the record straight. 

Experiment that debunks claim

*Parental supervision is recommended when using a lighter*

Materials: Snow, lighter and a drinking glass.

Steps:
  1. Grab some snow and make some snowballs. Not much snow left in Wisconsin, so look for larger piles in parking lots
  2. Put the snowball under the flame you will see what you saw in the online videos, blackening of the snowball
  3. Put the drinking glass under the flames for a few seconds
  4. Remove flame from glass and wipe the black stuff off the glass
What is going on?

The snow IS NOT burning. This is soot on the side of the snowball. Fuel from the lighters have imperfect combustion and produce the soot that deposits on the snow. 

The regular drinking glass has soot build on the side of the glass similar to the snowball. The drinking glass itself is not burning also.

With regards to the snow not melting, the snow melt doesn’t drip and it is absorbed by the rest of the snow because there is only small portion under direct heat. When less heat is applied with my hands to the entire snowball it melts. 

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