Simple experiment debunks Texas ‘fake snow’ theory

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(WFRV) – The internet is at it again.

You may remember the record-breaking cold that brought most of Texas snow in February.  

Viral videos on TikTok and other social media platforms claimed that the snow was “fake” or “man-made.” Conspiracy theories blamed everything from “the government” to even Bill Gates for the supposed fake snowfall. 

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 “burns,” it is fake snow. This reaction can be easily explained, so let’s set the record straight. 

Experiment that debunks the “fake snow” 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.
  2. Put the snowball over the flame and you will see what you saw in the online videos: blackening of the snowball.
  3. Put the drinking glass over the flames for a few seconds.
  4. Remove flame from glass and wipe off black soot.
What is going on?

The snow is not burning. The blackening you see 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 on the side of the glass, similar to the snowball. The drinking glass itself is not burning either.

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

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