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How to make fake snow

How to make fake snow

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow - Learn about superabsorbent polymers while making instant fake snow!

As the hydrophilic polymer in the Snow Polymer Demonstration Kit (from Innovating Science) instantly absorbs water, it will expand to over 40 times its original volume. The end result is cold, fluffy flakes of fake snow!

Snow Polymer Demonstration Kit

Kit contents:

25g Snow Polymer (enough for about 5 demonstrations)

5 stir sticks

5 clear plastic cups

Recommended:

Safety Goggles

Latex or nitrile gloves

Lab Apron

Deionized or distilled water

Scale or balance

Making your instant fake snow

  1. Weigh out about 5g of instant snow powder into a plastic cup (about 1/5 of what's provided in the kit)
  2. Add 50 ml (a little less than 1/4 cup) of water and watch the instant snow powder expand as it absorbs water (deionized or distilled water is recommended).
  3. After the water is absorbed, stir the instant snow to fluff it up.

Mixing water into Sodium Polyacrylate

One of the simplest chemistry demonstrations ever!

Why does it work?

Superabsorbent polymers are polymers with specific crosslinkers, that allow the molecules to quickly absorb many times their own mass of water while also expanding many times their original volume. This is accomplished through hydrogen bonding of the polymer with the water molecules in the solution.  

Sodium Polyacrylate molecule

Superabsorbent polymers in real life

Sodium polyacrylate is the superabsorbent polymer used in this instant snow demonstration. This type of fake snow has been used in movies, on television, and in photographs to simulate real snow.

In everyday life sodium polyacrylate is used as an absorbent in disposable diapers, mixed into potting soil, and used to quickly contain and clean up some types of spills.

Fake Snow used in a shoot

Did you know -

When held, super absorbent polymers feel cool to the touch, due to the endothermic process of water evaporating from the polymer? This is perfect for fake snow, but not so perfect in a sleeping baby’s diaper!

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