Watch as Boiling Water Freezes Instantly in Cold Air
When I was a kid, I lived for days like today when school was closed because of winter weather. My mom would start to pull her hair out around 10am and would make the seven of us bundle up to the point we looked like overstuffed zombies, arms outstretched because we had so many layers on that we couldn't put our arms to our sides. And then, we were sent outside to play.
My siblings and I loved experiments and one of our favorite ones to do in the winter was to throw boiling hot water up into freezing cold air to see if it would freeze in the air. This morning, I decided to go back in time and try out my childhood freezing water experiment to see if boiling water would freeze in the cold downtown Binghamton air and this is what happened:
It worked and it was so neat! Science ABC explains the phenomenon,
Boiling water is closer to the point of evaporation than cold water. Cold air is very dense, which makes its capacity to hold water vapor molecules very low. Therefore, when hot water is thrown into extremely cold air, the smallest droplets are able to cool and evaporate in a dramatic cloud before they reach the ground. In reality, this water isn’t actually converting into snow; rather, the water rapidly evaporates into vapor that immediately condenses into a cloud. Whatever it is, it still looks like snow, so it’s pretty cool!
Most every school in and around the Greater Binghamton area is closed today because the weather is so insanely cold and if you're looking for a fun thing to do with the kids that you can also use as a learning experience, this would be it!
Please use common sense if you plan to do this experiment. It should only be done under adult supervision. Keep in mind that any water that doesn't instantly evaporate will fall and it won't cool on the way down- it'll be hot and can cause serious burns if it touches your skin. Also, be aware of which way the wind is blowing so that when you toss the water, it doesn't come back on you.
If you're looking for more fun winter experiments to try out with the kids, NPR has a couple ideas.