Scientists have an explanation for YouTube videos showing snow ‘burning’

Posted on: 4:17 pm, February 4, 2014, by , updated on: 08:04am, February 6, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY – After recent winter storms across the country, a conspiracy theory was born on the Internet, claiming the snow that fell was fake.

Some residents are taking to YouTube to show what happens when a flame meets the snow in their area.

It doesn’t melt; instead, it just disappears.

The video leads many to believe the snow must be fake, plastic, geo-engineered or part of a secret government operation.

Wayne Harris-Wyrick, with the Oklahoma Science Museum, scrolls through the “viral videos” and laughs.

His personal favorite is the theory that the ‘fake snow’ is actually nanobots sent to spy on us.

Harris-Wyrick says, “It makes me sad in the sense that there are people who are believing that.”

So, we went outside to debunk the myth.

First, he gathers the ingredients, starting with six to eight ounces of snow and a little bit of flame.

“When you melt snow, it should become water,” says Harris- Wyrick. “And the claim is this won’t become water, so therefore, it can’t really be snow.”

As it turns out, there’s a perfectly good explanation for the strange occurrence involving basic science.

“What’s actually happening here is that heat is so high that the snow is going straight from solid snow, ice to vapor,” says Harris-Wyrick. “It’s called sublimation.”

The snow just boils before it has time to become a liquid.

Wyrick says paying attention in chemistry class would have prevented the widespread panic.

“I think that’s unfortunate that we have that little science education and science understanding in our country,” says Harris-Wyrick. “I bet there’s not any other country doing videos like this.”