Ice Vapor Clouds

-10 + Boiling Water= Ice Vapor

Is there such thing as fun in the cold?  Who says outside fun has to stop when the weather gets cold?  If that were the case, we’d be cooped up for the majority of the year here.  Winter is loooong up north.  Long and cold.

Last week we had a super cold burst and we are having another right now.  This is my most favorite thing to do when it’s uber cold outside.  So much fun, I almost look forward to these crazy cold snaps.

Is -20F cold enough for you?  That was the ambient air temp, not the wind chill.  Wind chill was as low as -60F is some places.  Perfect weather for throwing boiling water into the air!

Of course, use common sense when you do this.  Adult supervision is vital, keep small kids calm so an excited arm doesn’t flail into the pot.  Keep them back from the boiling water  so no one trips on them and spills boiling water.  Boiling water + toddlers scares me. And make sure to throw the water away from you and not upwind.  Just like you don’t pee into the wind, don’t throw boiling water into the wind.

And on that note, peeing into freezing air does not work.  Must not be hot enough.

It doesn’t have to be -20F (or even -10F) to work.  We’ve had it work up to 0F.  If the air is dry, the water is boiling and it’s mega cold, it should work.

How Does it Work?

The water is evaporating into an ice cloud before it gets a chance to hit the ground.  Boiling water is closer to the evaporation point than cold water.  Throwing the water into the air spreads it out making a larger surface area which is also helpful in evaporation.  Add the cold dry air and BOOM… you have an ice vapor cloud.  Add a bit of food coloring for a really fun ice cloud.

Up north here, we get a super cool phenomenon we call sun dogs.  It’s a halo that appears around the sun on super cold but sunny days.  The sun shines through the ice crystals in the air making the halo.  This experiment helps explain what sun dogs are if you happen to get them where you live.  If you’d like to see some great pictures check them out here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog.

What are some super cold weather experiments you like to do?

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