Viral Video: ‘Burning snow’ isn’t really burning

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Science is debunking rumors flying around online, that claim recently-fallen snow isn’t pure snow.

The rumors claim the snow contains chemicals or plastic that leave black marks on a snowball, instead of melting it to liquid, when it’s exposed to a flame.

Now those rumors are being debunked.  It looks like the way the snow reacts to nearby flame depends on the position of the heat source.

Several videos show a lighter flame held to the top of a snowball (or an ice cube) melts it but doesn’t turn it black.  That’s because the snowball is made up of snowflakes, and there are lots of air spaces in the snowflakes where the liquid can be absorbed.

When the flame is held along the side or underneath the snowball, an odor is apparent and a black mark appears on the snowball.  That odor and soot are the result of incomplete combustion of the butane from the lighter.  The lighter would leave behind a soot mark when the flame is put under anything, not just a snowball.

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