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How to choose a can of fake snow

Easy Artificial Snow Instructions

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

  • Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College
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You can make fake snow using a common polymer. The fake snow is non-toxic, feels cool to the touch, lasts for days, and looks similar to the real thing. Unlike real snow, it doesn’t melt.

Key Takeaways: Make Fake Snow

  • One of the easiest ways to make realistic fake snow is to mix sodium polyacrylate and water.
  • The resulting snow is white, wet, fluffy, and cool to the touch. It is also non-toxic and reuseable.
  • Sodium polyacrylate is a polymer used in disposable diapers, growing toys, sanitary napkins, and gel water sources.

Fake Snow Materials

You only need two simple materials for this project:

  • Sodium polyacrylate
  • Water

What You Do

  1. There are a couple of ways to get the ingredient necessary to make fake polymer snow. You can purchase the fake snow or you can harvest sodium polyacrylate from common household sources. You can find sodium polyacrylate inside disposable diapers or as crystals in a garden center, used to help keep soil moist.
  2. All you need to do to make this type of fake snow is add water to the sodium polyacrylate. Add some water, mix the gel. Add more water until you have the desired amount of wetness. The gel will not dissolve. It’s just a matter of how slushy you want your snow.
  3. Sodium polyacrylate snow feels cool to the touch because it is mainly water. If you want to add more realism to the fake snow, you can refrigerate or freeze it. The gel will not melt. If it dries out, you can rehydrate it by adding water.

Helpful Tips

  1. Fake snow is non-toxic, as you would expect from a material used in disposable diapers. However, don’t purposely eat it. Remember, “non-toxic” is not the same as “edible.”
  2. When you are done playing with fake snow, it’s safe to throw it away. Alternatively, you can dry it out to save and re-use.
  3. If you want yellow snow (or some other color), you can mix food coloring into the fake snow.
  4. If you want drier snow, you can reduce the amount of water the polymer can absorb by adding a small amount of salt.
  5. Skin contact with the artificial snow could potentially cause a irritation or a rash. This is because leftover acrylic acid could remain as a by-product of sodium polyacrylate production. The level of acrylic acid is regulated for disposable diapers to be less than 300 PPM. If you choose another source for the chemical that isn’t intended for human skin contact, the resulting snow could be itchy.

About Sodium Polyacrylate

Sodium polyacrylate is also known by the common name “waterlock.” The polymer is a sodium salt of acrylic acid with the chemical formula [−CH2−CH(CO2Na)−]n. The material is superabsorbent, with the capacity to absorb 100 to 1000 times its weight in water. While the sodium form of the polymer is most common, similar materials exist substituting potassium, lithium, or ammonium for sodium. While sodium-neutralized polymers are most common in diapers and feminine napkins, the potassium-neutralized polymer is more common in soil amendment products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture developed the material in the early 1960s. Researchers sought a material to improve water retention in soils. Originally, the scientists developed a hydrolyzed product made from a starch-acrylonitrile co-polymer. This polymer, known as “Super Slurper,” absorbed over 400 times its weight in water, but did not release the water back again.

Many chemical companies worldwide joined the race to develop a super absorbent polymer. These included Dow Chemical, General Mills, Sanyo Chemical, Kao, Nihon Sarch, Dupont, and Sumitomo Chemical. The first commercial products resulting from the research were released in the early 1970s. However, the first applications were for adult incontinence products and feminine sanitary napkins, not soil amendments. The first use of a super absorbent polymer in a baby diaper was in 1982. Sodium polyacrylate is also used to make the fun toy Fortune Teller Miracle Fish.

Sources of Sodium Polyacrylate for Fake Snow

Disposable diapers and garden crystals aren’t the only sources of sodium polyacrylate for fake snow. You can harvest it from the following products. If the particle size is too big for “snowflakes,” pulse the wet gel in a blender to reach the desired consistency.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Bring some snow day magic into your home without the frozen fingers, runny noses, and wet socks. Making fake snow is a great option for parents looking for an affordable way to keep kids busy––and it’s a great sensory activity for preschool-aged children, requiring minimal supervision. Bust out an extra set of measuring cups so little ones can make snow castles, or supply buttons and baby carrots for making mini snowmen.

The best part about making fake snow is that it uses common supplies and materials already found in your home.


Do not let your child eat the fake snow, and avoid eye contact.

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Large mixing bowl


  • 1 pound baking soda
  • 10 ounces shaving cream
  • White or silver glitter (optional)


Measure the Baking Soda

Place all of the baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Add the Shaving Cream

There’s no set amount of shaving cream required to make fake snow. Add a little, mix it in, then add more if needed. Usually, one-third to one-half of a can is needed. You’ll know you’ve added enough shaving cream when the mixture holds its shape.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Sprinkle the Glitter

Glitter isn’t a must for making fake snow, so if you want to avoid sparkly hands and clothes, feel free to leave it out. If you are using glitter, pour a few tablespoons into the mixing bowl.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Mix the Ingredients Together

There is a reason why a mixing spoon was not included in the list of tools––the best part about this project is that you can get your hands dirty! For this part, roll up your sleeves or your kids’ and prepare to get messy! Squeeze the mixture together between your fingers or fold it together like you would a cake batter. There is no wrong way to do this step.

Once all of the ingredients are fully incorporated, you can add more glitter for extra sparkle or additional shaving cream for a more moldable snow. If needed, you can always add more shaving cream or glitter during playtime.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Revel in Your Own Snow!

Transfer the fake snow from the mixing bowl onto a play surface or into a sensory bin. Allow your kids to get creative with how they play with it. Some fun ideas include:

  • Using measuring cups to make snow castles
  • Turning snowballs into mini snowmen
  • Using it to create snowy branches on your Christmas tree
  • Making a wintery tablescape for a holiday party

All activities should be supervised by an adult. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

This Winter has been surprisingly mild and there hasn’t been a lot of snow outside. Whether you’re in a climate with snow or not – sometimes it’s too cold to venture outside to play with the snow! We’re sharing 3 ways you can make your own fake snow for sensory play and crafts. You only need a few ingredients to make them. Or you can buy instant snow and just add water! We have two recipes that only require 2 ingredients – things you probably already have on hand! Kids will love playing with this fake snow or creating their own puffy painted snowman.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Make Fake Snow – 3 Ways

We’re going to show you 3 ways you can make fake snow:

1. Snow that can be used in a sensory bin to create your own small world play scene

2. Snow you can paint with! We call this puffy paint and you can create your own puffy painted snowman

3. Instant snow – you can buy this and re-use it. Kids love it!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Watch the full tutorial video here before you get started!

How to Make Snow for a Sensory Bin

The first kind of snow you can make is really simple – you only need 2 ingredients:

  1. Cornstarch (or cornflour it’s called in the UK)
  2. Conditioner

You can also substitute the conditioner for lotion.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Add 1 bag of cornstarch (ours was 454 grams/ 16 ounces) with 1 cup of conditioner. We used unscented but a lavender or light scented version would also work.

If you find it’s a little too sticky, just add more cornstarch and if you find it’s too dry, add a little more conditioner.

You want the consistency to not be sticky. It should let you form it into little balls to make your own snowman!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Now that your “snow” is made, you can place it into a bin to create your own small world play scene!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

We added pine cones and small animals like a polar bear and deer to make our own Winter sensory bin. We added a little bit of glitter in as well.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Store your fake snow so that it does not get exposed to air. This will help it from drying out. You can place some saran wrap on top. If it becomes really dry, add a little bit more conditioner and some extra water into it.

Puffy Paint Snow Recipe

Now we’ll show you how to make an easy 2 ingredient puffy paint recipe. Use this “snow” paint to create your own snowman. Toddlers and preschoolers can make a melted snowman version by just painting the paper and adding their snowman face features.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

To make the puffy paint, add 1 cup of shaving cream and 1 cup of white glue. Mix together.

If you don’t need as much, cut the recipe in half and do 1/2 cup of shaving cream and 1/2 cup of white glue. One cup will give you enough for 2-3 kids to make snowmen with. If you only have 1 child, cut the recipe in half.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Now paint your snowman and add all of your snowman features! We used googly eyes, small buttons and glitter paper (red and black) to make the hat. We also used an orange foam glitter sheet to make the nose.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Instant Snow

Finally, if you’d rather not make your own fake snow you can buy instant snow! Instant snow is great for sensory bins and kids love playing with it and watching it grow. You just need to add water!

You can buy Insta-Snow here. We recommend the brand Insta-snow since it’s non-toxic and safety tested. The best part about Insta-snow is it’s reusable. Just let it dry out and then you can add water back to it again and again! Always make sure to read the instructions and supervise while using.

The Insta Snow also includes an activity guide that explains the science behind the fake snow. And it’s easy to turn into snow – just add water and watch it erupt in seconds. Kids are always amazed at this!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Have fun playing with all kinds of fake snow this Winter! Let us know which sensory activity your kids loved the best!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

More Winter Sensory Activities

These salt painted snowflakes are really fun to make! You just need glue and salt and there is a free snowflake template available.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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posted by The Best Ideas for Kids on January 8, 2019

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

About the Author

Kim is the author of the kids craft book, Fun & Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials. She is a mom of two that loves to share easy crafts, activities and recipes for kids.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow


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Making fake snow is as easy as can be and the best news is it uses only 2 ingredients! Follow these simple instructions to find out how. This fake snow would be a perfect Frozen Party decoartion too

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

You can make a snowball into any shape you like. We love this heart shape snowball from Stuffpoint

What you will need:

500g box of McKenzie’s Bi-Carb Soda

1 can of Shaving Foam

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Instructions on how to make Fake Snow

1. Empty the whole 500g box of Baking Soda into a large bowl

2. Slowly mix up to half a can of Shaving Foam with the baking soda.

3. That’s it you are finished!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Added Fake Snow Fun

Add some iridescent white glitter to make it sparkly

Drop your snowballs into a bowl of vinegar to make snow ball bombs!

Store your fake snow in the fridge to make it icy cold just like real snow

Welcome! Here you’ll discover heaps of creative ideas on how to use fake snow. Maybe you need snow decoration ideas for your home? (Our personal favourite is tipping loose snow into jam jars and popping tea lights on top). Holding a winter-themed party? That calls for a falling snow photoshoot! Look out for our pro tips too, especially on how to apply fake snow for a realistic twinkling finish.

Get The Look. A Festive Table

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How To Use Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

1. Lay down the foundations

Looking to create a realistic snowfall? Our artificial snow blankets are the perfect base layer. Choose from one of our large blanket rolls or a mini one, ideal for under the tree. Now you have a foundation, top it with display snow for texture.

2. Build up layers of snow

Scatter thick Display Snow Coarse flakes on top. Gradually add finer flakes by adding a layer of Display Snow Medium, followed by Display Snow Fine.

3. The glittering finish

Now for a sparkling finish! Dust on Snow Glitter or Snow Sparkle for that all-important shimmer.

There’s something about freshly fallen snow that transforms a dull winter’s day into a magical scene. It might be its bright white gleam, or the slight sparkle it emanates as the light hits, or maybe it’s that peaceful feeling that settles in as it falls. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that snow captures our imaginations like nothing else during the winter season.

Adding artificial snow to events and store displays is a great way for organizers and visual merchandisers to reach out to guests and customers. But can fake snow be as effective as real snow in creating that winter feeling? The answer is yes, but it does depend on your artificial snow’s quality. See a few tips below for creating the best Winter Wonderland possible.

Avoid improvising fake snow

There is a lot of information flying around about how to make fake snow online, whether it’s with baking soda, or shaving cream, or glue and glitter. For a professional looking snow display, the choice to buy fake snow from a reputable supplier will make all the difference to the quality and effectiveness of the display. Sure, there is an element of cute and kitsch to Christmas-themed handicrafts, but if you’re aiming to design an elegant snowy scene, then professional-grade snow is the way to go.

Use a snow machine

To add an extra flourish, why not consider using a fake snow machine? These machines have the ability to work quietly in a number of different settings, to recreate the effect of freshly falling snow. A dynamic extra for event or photo shoot photography, there are so many ways to have fun with artificial snow, as if it were the real thing.

Choose environmentally-friendly products when you buy fake snow

Professional snow products from reputable manufacturers are excellent for a range of indoor and outdoor uses, with a realistic look and very little clean up necessary. As these products are food-grade, they are completely biodegradable and safe for use around kids and animals. Another wonderful way professional fake snow products imitate actual snow is that they are made with natural ingredients, which pose no harmful effects to the environment. Simply sprinkle some water on and the snowflakes will melt away and disappear, just like the real thing.

Are you dreaming of a winter wonderland, but not getting any beautiful white snow to make it a reality? Don’t wait on the weather to make your wintry wishes come true. Just follow the Scout Elves’ simple solution: make fake snow! As North Pole dwellers, the Scout Elves know all about perfect powdery snow, so they’ve created several easy recipes for fake snow. Each is the perfect consistency for building mini snowmen, snowballs and even small igloos. This inventive snow making method will create hours of fun for little ones!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

  1. Baking soda and shaving cream. Mix together 1 pound of baking soda, and slowly add shaving cream until you reach the perfect snowy consistency. Let kids knead the fake snow with their hands until it’s all combined.
  2. Baking soda and water. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into a bowl, and add water one tablespoon at a time. Use a fork or a whisk to stir the two ingredients together, adding more water as you go. When it’s light and powdery, it’s ready to play with!
  3. Baking soda and conditioner. For this recipe, be sure to use white conditioner so your fake snow looks just like the real stuff. Start with 1/2 cup of conditioner, and use a fork to stir in about 3 cups of baking soda. This snow packs very well and is great for making snowmen!
  4. Shaving cream and cornstarch. Mix equal parts shaving cream (foam, not gel) and cornstarch for this recipe, which makes a dense, foamy snow that is very easy to mold.
  5. Cornstarch and lotion. Mix together equal parts cornstarch and lotion for this crumbly snow recipe. If you’re looking for a more powdery snow, add slightly less lotion than cornstarch.
  6. Bonus tips! To give your fake snow extra flair, try adding glitter or even essential oils. Helpful hint: The Scout Elves love adding peppermint oil because it reminds them of their favorite white Christmases! You can also pop your fake snow in the freezer to make it cold to the touch just like real snow. Provide kids with cookie cutters, plastic utensils and snowman decorating supplies for maximum fun.

Looking for more ways to pass the time indoors this winter? See what else the Scout Elves have up their sleeves in Scout Elf Craft Corner!

Please remember that when attempting the craft included in this blog post, children should always be supervised by an adult. When using crafting supplies or products, always read manufacturer’s instructions and warnings.

Last Updated: April 27, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.

There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 67,433 times.

You can’t always rely on the weather to give you what you want. Whether you’re simply trying to brighten up a decorative diorama, or attempting to turn your front yard into a winter wonderland, there are a variety of ways to make fake snow. Depending on the kind of snow that you’re trying to make, you’ll need to gather the proper materials and take the necessary safety precautions—especially if you’re throwing boiling water into freezing conditions.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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If you can repeat this process multiple times, you may be able to generate enough snow for several snowballs to have a quick snowball fight!

It almost never snows where we live. Never. And it did 2 days ago. It was a magic night for the kids. Especially the little one, who has never seen and experienced snow before. At 10 pm we bundled up as much as we could and hit the backyard for some snow fun.

Since that night kids have been glued to the window (especially in the evenings) waiting for the snow. I know – it probably won’t snow again here this season so I was sad to see how much kids were looking forward to it.

That’s when I hit it me: we can make our own snow. We made it last year. However, this time I wanted it to feel more like snow. And it did. I don’t know how and why, but my daughter said it felt cold 🙂

Edit: Check out our latest fake snow attempt. This year we decided to gift snow.

How to make snow

You will need:

  • I lb Baking soda
  • Shaving cream (I suggest using unscented and organic if possible)
  • 2 drops of Lavender essential oil (you can buy them at wholesale prices)

1. Let the kids pour 1lb of baking soda.

2. Spray shaving cream. We used a good handful of it. But you should experiment with it by starting spraying some and then adding as needed.

3. Let the kids ‘knead the snow’. ‘The snow’ will start forming almost immediately.

The rest is in the videos

The clean-up

I found it easier to just put a blanket on the floor and let them play there instead of putting it on the table.

The cleanup was pretty easy. I just grabbed the blanket when they were done and shook it off outside. Whatever was left on the carpet I just vacuumed. Baking soda itself is a perfect natural cleaner, added with some essential oils was like self carpet cleaning.

Kids had a blast playing with snow. Mostly by just touching it and enjoying the sensory play. Later they figured the snow could form in a shape, so they used sand toys to make some mini snow castles. (I was into play too. My hands were messy and I didn’t take more photos).

So if mother nature is not giving you snow where you live you can always use your creativity and make your own snow.

OR if you want to skip the DIY part, you can just get a BAG OF INSTANT FAKE SNOW IN SECONDS

How to make snow at home with just 2 ingredients.

IMPORTANT. Make sure not to leave kids playing unattended. Don’t use this snow recipe if your kids are little and still putting things in their mouth.

November 29, 2017, 8:00am EDT

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Taking photos in the falling snow is hard. It’s cold, your gear gets wet, and everyone ends up grumpy. Why bother going outside at all when you can fake it in Photoshop? Here’s how.

Step One: Pick a Suitable Image

Adding falling snow to a sunny beach photo where everyone’s in a bikini is never going to look realistic. The bright sunlight is pretty much a dead giveaway that it’s not actually snowing. For the effect to work, you need to pick an image where it could plausibly be snowing. If you’ve got some photos from a cloudy day where there’s snow on the ground, perfect. Otherwise, just pick something dark and wintery like my shot below. It’s the kind of photo where it’s totally believable that a big snowfall had just started.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Before continuing, you should also make any other edits you want to the image. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out my article on how to improve pretty much any digital photo. The tips I cover in that are great for taking a kind of wintery photo and turning it into a really wintery photo.

Step Two: Getting Started

Open up the photo you’re using in Photoshop. I’m using Photoshop CC18, but these tools should be available in any recent version. You should also be able to replicate a lot of the steps in most good image editors.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Go to Layer > New Layer, or press Control+Shift+N on your keyboard (Command+Shift+N on a Mac) to create a new layer. Call it something like “Snow” and click OK.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Next, go to Edit > Fill, set the Contents to Black, the Blending Mode to Normal, and the Opacity to 100%, then click OK.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

You should now be looking at a pure black layer. Believe it or not, this is what we’re going to make snow from.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Step Three: Bring the Noise

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Set the Amount to 200%, the Distribution to Gaussian, and make sure Monochromatic is checked. Then click OK.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Next, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Enter a Radius of somewhere between 2 and 7. The lower the value, the smaller your snowflakes will be. I’ve gone with 4.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Step Four: Creating the Snowflakes

Go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

A Threshold adjustment turns every pixel above a certain value white and every pixel below it black. Drag the small arrow around until you get something that starts to look like snowflakes. I’ve gone with a value of 124; yours will probably be somewhere about the same.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Next, in the Layers Panel, select the Snow layer and change its blend mode to Screen.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

This will remove all the black and only leave the white snowflakes.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Step Five: Blending the Snowflakes In

Now we’ve got something that’s starting to look like snowflakes, but they’re kind of sitting on top of the image, rather than looking like part of it. Let’s start blending them in a little better.

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

There aren’t really any set Motion Blur settings that will work for every image. Play around with the Angle and Distance until you get something that looks good for yours. I’ve gone with an Angle of -51º and a Distance of 13 Pixels.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Next, go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All or click the Layer Mask icon in the Layers Panel to add a white mask to the Snow layer. For more on layers and masks, check out my full lesson.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Select the Brush tool with the keyboard shortcut B and press D to reset it to the default colors. Press X so that black is the foreground color. From the Brush Tool Options, select a Soft Round Brush. Set the size to something nice and big, I’ve gone with 600. Set the Opacity to 100 and the Flow to 20.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Right now, the snowflakes fall evenly across the image. This isn’t great because they kind of obscure the model, Dani. Take your brush and, with the mask selected, paint a few times over the areas of the image you don’t want the snowflakes to fall so heavily. It’s only a small change but now you can see Dani’s face more clearly.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Step Six: Adding More Snowflakes

And that’s it, you’ve now applied some awesome looking snowflakes to your image. The final (optional) step is to go back and add another layer or two of snowflakes with different values. I’ve added one more with the following values:

  • Noise: 200%.
  • Gaussian Blur: 7.
  • Threshold: 121.
  • Motion Blur: -15º and 21 pixels.

I also made sure to mask out Dani’s face again.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Adding snowflakes is one of those simple Photoshop techniques that you can use every year. I always apply it to whatever Christmas card I’m forced to make for my mother.

Winter is the time for bundling up and playing in the snow. But if you can’t get to snow, can you still have winter? In this fun experiment, kids will learn how to make their very own fake snow and determine the best fake snow recipe. And have a lot of fun playing in it, without having to pile on the coats! This post contains affiliate links.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Setting Up Your Fake Snow Lab

This experiment starts with a simple idea. What is the best fake snow recipe? Nothing says winter like snow, but if you can’t get the real deal (like we can’t in the San Francisco area!), use this STEM challenge to find out what fake snow recipe is the best.

Fake Snow Lab Supplies

  • Insta-Snow (find it here!)
  • Baking Soda
  • Paper Towels
  • Shaving Cream
  • 4 small bowls
  • Fork

Recipe 1: Baking Soda and Shaving Cream

Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of shaving cream. Mix with a fork. Add a few drops of water until the mixture takes on a snow-like appearance. You may need to add a little more water or baking soda depending on the humidity of your room.

Recipe 2: Paper Towels and Baking Soda

Shred a paper towel into tiny pieces. Blend the pieces of paper towel in a blender or food processor. Add 1/2 a cup of baking soda and a few drops of water. Mix with a fork until a snowy texture is formed.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Recipe 3: Insta-Snow

Place a teaspoon of Insta-Snow powder in a small container. The snow will grow to 100 times its original size, so make sure there is plenty of room in the container. Add 2 ounces of water. Watch the snow magically expand before your eyes. You might need to mix it up a bit with a fork to distribute the water evenly.

Recipe 4: Insta-Snow and Shaving Cream

Complete the recipe above, but also add 1/2 cup of shaving cream. Mix the shaving cream in with a fork. Keep adding shaving cream until you can form a ball of Insta-Snow in your hand.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Testing the Fake Snow Recipes

We conducted a series of experiments on our snow recipes to determine which recipe is the best. Our tests were as follows:

  • Coldness test
  • Snowball test
  • Texture test

Coldness Test

The coldness test was our first challenge. We tested each fake snow recipe to determine how realistic the snow was in terms of temperature. Surprisingly enough, some of the recipes actually felt cold, even though we didn’t use particularly cold water to make them. We looked up the explanation on the Steve Spangler Science page and found out that when Insta-Snow (and our other fake snow recipes) evaporates, the water leaving the snow makes it feel cool to the touch. Insta-Snow and the baking soda snow were the coldest. The paper towel snow and the shaving cream snow were not cold to the touch.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Snowball Test

The children tested each type of snow to determine which fake snow could be rolled into a snowball. Snowballs are an important element for any snow (according to the kids). The Insta-Snow could not make any ball shape. The paper towel snow was too lumpy. The baking soda snow balled up pretty well (ours was a little too dry to make a ball), and the Insta-Snow mixed with shaving cream made the best ball, making it the winner of the snowball challenge.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Texture Test

The kids decided right away that the paper towel recipe was nothing like the texture of real snow. The Insta-Snow combined with shaving cream was also nothing like snow. The baking soda snow felt like snow, except it was too gritty. The texture of Insta-Snow was its biggest weakness, as it felt more like packing peanuts than real snow. The baking soda snow won the texture challenge.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

The Best Fake Snow Recipe

The kids determined that Insta-Snow was the best snow, even with its weakness in the snowball test. The kids loved how the Insta-Snow could sprinkle like real snow, looked like real snow, and was cold to the touch. The addition of shaving cream to the snow also made Insta-Snow perfect for making snowballs or fake snowmen. Even though the baking soda snow looked like snow and could make snowballs, the kids did not like the gritty texture.

Fake Snow STEM Elements

This activity includes everything you need for a comprehensive STEM project.

Science: Kids will use scientific inquiry and a series of tests to determine the best fake snow.

Technology: Children will learn about chemical reactions and why the Steve Spangler Insta-Snow expands so quickly.

Engineering: Children will test each snow for temperature, snowball ability, and appearance.

Math: Children must measure ingredients to create the right consistency for each snow recipe.

More Fake Winter Fun 🙂

For more fake snow fun inspired by California winters, try this California Snowball Fight!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Or try this really fun Fake Snow Science Kit!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Reader Interactions


[…] Fake Snow Lab | Left Brian Craft Brain – Create your own snow making lab this winter! Children will learn the scientific method and make predictions as they create this fun, sensory material. […]

[…] other snow ideas check out recipes here and over […]

[…] to experiment with, even if you can’t make enough to make a snowman or have a snowball fight. Left Brain Craft Brain offers a few different recipes for making […]

I have plans for a winter party in late December, but I live far from anywhere where snow might ever even consider existing; fake snow is in great, great demand and I’ve sort of got a reputation to keep so I’d like to accommodate and please everyone, but I can’t find any way to obtain it save for buying a rather expensive snow machine.

I really just want to fill a moderately sized backyard with water-based fake-snow. (Artificial stuff will doubtlessly be set on fire by drunkenly dropped cigarettes, and this concerns me.)

How can I best go about obtaining this goal?

5 Answers

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

I’ll just add my 2 cents

After more than 40 years of theatrical involvement; I’d probably check a supply house first. Theatrical substances are most often dictated as those that must have fire ratings.

Nothing you use however will NOT be a mess; unless it truly is shaved; blown ice; and even that will be messy on different levels; especially with human traffic.

Certainly soap flakes are an option; but they don’t strictly melt away in the rain; at least not before producing what soap flakes are designed to produce; and mixed with water/rain; over grass and soil; could be unpleasant.

Flaked styrofoam/or white crepe paper are also an option; but as you mention; Drunk; perhaps smokers; I suspect they aren’t GOOD options.

Finally there is the word “CHEAP”. and it’s a “Relative” word; depending on budget, and some desire for authenticity; cleanup; effect; etc.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

I don’t know if you’d want to fill an entire backyard with it, but the best fake snow I’ve seen is Ivory Snow soap flakes or powder.

It’d be great for small areas, and mounded against pillars, in pots, around the base of brick walls, etc. It also melts when wet, of course and is reasonably inexpensive and available in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores. The fragrance evaporates after a few minutes.

You could also try a theatre supply for artificial snow. I’ve frequently called our local store for special effects items, and they’ve always had a way to provide substitutes for stage use.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

If you could get a hold of a LOT of the celulose-based foam “peanuts” it would give the general impression of snow and they just disolve into almost nothing by spraying with a hose afterwards for cleanup. The only problem is if it rains or people are wet the “peanuts” will stick to them and might make a mess on clothing.

There are companies that can deliver massive amounts of flaked ice, but it would be expensive and probably would melt away pretty quickly if it is warm where you live.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

The lady (sharon) asking the question above you has some snow that she would like to get rid of. I would be willing to bet you could get a smokin hot deal on it. That is even better than fake snow, cuz it’s real!

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
This is a Guest Post by misterjustin

When I first decided to post about snow basing, there were a few scattered tutorials out there, but not a lot of step-by-step guides. Now there seems to be a glut of them. Rather than scrap my plan altogether, I decided to take a look at eight different ways to make snow. My goal is to show what a couple of material combinations can create without any additional tricks. To that end, I’ve used eight plastic bases that are unprimed and won’t have anything on them other than the snow mix.

The materials I’ve used:

PVA (white glue)
Water Effects
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
Soft Flake Snow (from Woodland Scenics)

“Water Effects” and “modeling snow” are available from a variety of manufacturers. I’ve used a number of brands of “snow” and out of all of them, the stuff made by Woodland Scenics is my personal favorite. It also happens to be what comes in the Secret Weapon winter scenery kit which means I have a ton of the stuff lying around that I can use.

There are two basic ways to add “snow” to your base.

First Method:
Dabbing the adhesive (PVA or Water Effects) onto the base and then sprinkling the snow material (bicarbonate or modeling snow) on top.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
(PVA and bicarbonate)
Moving left to right starting on top, you can see I added the PVA, spread it out to cover the snowy part of the base, added liberal amount of bicarbonate and then shook the loose material off.

Second Method:
Mix the adhesive (PVA or Water Effects) and the snow material (bicarbonate or modeling snow) prior to applying it to the base.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
(PVA and bicarbonate)
The mix ratio is really a matter of preference. If you want it to look a bit more wet, then use more PVA. Some people choose add a bit of off white paint to the mix for shading, but it’s not something I do with mine.

The end results:
These two methods will cover you 99.9999999% of the time. You’ll find a whole host of tutorials and opinions on how to apply it and which is best, so it’s worth looking around to see what you like the most.

Let’s look at our results.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
The left column represents the First method (dab and sprinkle) and the right column represents the Second method (mix then apply). As you can see, we’ve got some radically different snow effects.

The First Method: Dab and Sprinkle

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
(A) PVA and bicarbonate
The easiest and least expensive application out there. A decent effect for large numbers of infantry.

(C) PVA and modeling snow
An excellent way to create ice and slush effects.

(E) Water Effects and bicarbonate
In my opinion. not the best result.

(G) Water Effects and modeling snow
An easy way to create slushy, recently fallen snow. This is also a nice touch if you’re doing a diorama and want to add snow to vehicle tracks and footprints.

The Second Method: Mix then apply

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

(B) PVA and bicarbonate
An overall easy and effective application. This is by far the most common way to apply snow to models.

(D) PVA and modeling snow
The end result is very similar to bicarbonate, but the effect is a lot cooler and has a more muted finish. Modeling snow also has a more realistic crystal effect due to the nature of the product.

(F) Water Effects and bicarbonate
The nice thing about working with Water Effects is that you can actually sculpt it to a degree and create drifts and impressions. With the bicarbonate, you lose some detail but you can fix that by sprinkling additional bicarbonate over the mix while it’s drying and blow off the excess.

(G) Water Effects and modeling snow
This is my personal favorite. This creates a cold, wet looking snow that is hard to beat. You can sculpt the Water Effects and if the result is too wet you can sprinkle some more modeling snow over the mix while it’s drying and blow off the excess.

And there you have it, eight different ways to create snow for entirely different effects. These techniques can easily be added to your base or scene and you can even combine more than one technique to create a variety of looks on the same base.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow
I’ll vouch for the First Method (A). Nothing more than simple white glue and the snow from Gale Force 9. I used it on my Skulltaker conversion a while ago with great results. – Ron

If you’ve got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I’ll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!

Ski resorts increasingly rely on snow-making machines.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

If you’ve ever watched a skiing event in the Winter Olympics, or visited the slopes yourself, the odds are that much of the snow you’ve seen isn’t natural but made by machines. So how?

All snow is a type of ice crystal – but manufactured snow is formed quite differently from the natural stuff and so has a different structure. Natural snow starts life as molecules of water vapour, floating high in the atmosphere, in temperatures that hover around freezing point or below.

When the vapour encounters what’s called a “nucleator” – usually a speck of pollen or dust – it transforms from a gas to a solid. In other words, it freezes, forming a six-sided hexagon-shaped ice crystal: a baby snowflake.

Over time, this tiny crystal bumps into more water-vapour molecules, which attach and freeze. Gradually it grows into a beautiful ice crystal lattice. The fully formed snowflake is also generally six-sided, because the molecules bond naturally into the ice crystal’s hexagonal structure.

Not all snow looks like a classic snowflake, though. For example, very cold, dry air produces small powdery flakes that don’t stick together – great for “powder skiing”. When the temperature is warmer, flakes melt around the edges, forming “wet” sticky snow, which is better for making snowmen.

Natural snow is all our planet knew for billions of years, but as global warming begins to take its toll on seasonal snowfalls, the skiing industry is turning increasingly to technology to make its own.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

The earliest snow machines were basically just giant hoses. Today’s machines boast sophisticated onboard weather stations, adjustable nozzles and complex software, able to maximise snow output with every change in temperature or humidity. A single state-of-the-art “snow gun” can make enough to fill 10 trucks in an hour.

Natural snow is made from water vapour. Human-made snow crystals are made from freezing liquid water. In most other ways, however, the process is similar.

There are two main kinds of snow-making machines: the lance snow gun and the fan snow gun. Pictured on the opposite page is a fan snow gun, which looks something like a giant hairdryer with a fan in the middle and an outlet ringed by metal teeth.

Most of the teeth are tiny nozzles that spray fine droplets of water. Nestled among them are nozzles that work as nucleators.

Just as with natural snow, the water droplets sprayed by the snow guns need some help from a particle to initiate the freezing process. But instead of spitting out dust or pollen, the mechanical nucleators make tiny ice particles to do the job.

Compressed air is shot up through the nozzle, where it meets water and splits it into tiny droplets.

The sudden loss of pressure robs the system of heat, rapidly cooling the water to form a tiny ice pellet – a snow “seed”.

The giant fan now propels these seeds into the air alongside the fine mist of water droplets. As the droplets encounter the seed, they stick to it and begin to freeze.

It takes a while to freeze a snow crystal, which is why snow guns are designed to send their icy bullets so high into the cold air. Height also allows additional time for evaporation, which helps freeze our baby snow.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Because human-made snow is made from droplets rather than vapour, it has a different shape. It forms a ball that freezes from the outside in – a bit like freezing an egg. The result is a tiny rounded grain instead of a flake.

So can we still call these little ice balls snow? That’s a good question. It certainly looks a bit different when it first falls. But once on the ground, the structures of both natural and manufactured snow continue to change as they bond and mix with other snow crystals to become a continuous snow pack. They end up pretty similar.

In fact, the human-made stuff is arguably better for groomed ski runs – where snow is smoothed and compacted using a tractor. Human-made snow makes a more durable ski slope and is slower to melt, and hence is usually preferred for slalom courses.

Jonica Newby

Jonica Newby is a science writer, broadcaster and former veterinarian.

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Criminal gangs are making fake vodka; here’s how to avoid it

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1) Check the bottle has a properly sealed cap

Look closely at the cap of a bottle before buying it – if there is a gap between the seal ring and the bottle cap, the bottle has been opened. Even if the alcohol isn’t counterfeit, it may have been watered down or tampered with in some other way.

2) Watch out for fake bar codes

Most fake vodka bottles will have bar codes on them to make them look authentic, but they may not be properly registered. You can get a bar-code reader app on your phone to check whether a bar code is real or not.

3) Real vodka does not have sediment in it

Real vodka is totally clear, and has no sediment at the bottom of the bottle or particles floating in it. If you can see tiny particles floating in a bottle, it probably means the alcohol has been watered down with tap water. Sediment at the bottom may be a by-product of the production process of fake vodka, and certainly shouldn’t be there.

4) Check for spelling mistakes on the label

Criminal gangs do not tend to employ proof editors and mistakes on labels are more common than you might think. A recent haul in Leicestershire had labels that misspelled “bottled” as “botteled”.

5) Don’t buy booze from under the counter

Dodgy shops might offer you booze from ‘under the counter’ at a discount. The risk of buying counterfeit products is much higher in these secret deals: they are not subject to trading standards checks, and the person you are dealing with is clearly okay with breaking the law to make a few quid on the side.

6) Buy from a reputable supermarket or off-licence

Counterfeiters tend to sell their wares to independent shops where they may lack the expertise or accountability systems to stop fake booze being sold. If you’re worried about a place, sticking to a reputable supermarket chain or a specialist off-licence you know well may be a good idea.

7) Google cheap brands you’ve never heard of

Most counterfeiters try to fake popular brands like Glen’s or Smirnoff, but sometimes they will just make one up. You can Google cheaper brands you’ve never heard of on your phone to reassure you there isn’t a warning out about them.

8) Check it has a proper ‘duty paid’ sticker

This is what a proper ‘duty paid’ sticker looks like. Some counterfeiters fake them, but if a bottle is missing on it’s likely to be illegal.

9) If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is

The sad fact about drinking spirits in this country is that they are expensive. The tax on a 70cl bottle of 37.5% Vodka is around £7.50. If you paid less than this then the retailer would be making a loss on the sale of a legitimate bottle and it’s likely something else is going on.

10) If it smells like nail polish, don’t drink it

Even the most awful student night vodka should not smell like nail polish. Nail products’ characteristic smell comes from a different chemical which should not be found in vodka. If you open a bottle and it smells like nail varnish, don’t drink it.

A perfect fake could in theory be indistinguishable from a real bottle of vodka, but if you don’t break any of these rules you should be okay.

If you do come across a fake you can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

1 /1 How to make sure you don’t accidentally buy counterfeit vodka made

How to make sure you don’t accidentally buy counterfeit vodka made

How to make sure you don’t accidentally buy counterfeit vodka made from anti-freeze

Criminal gangs are making fake vodka; here’s how to avoid it

Mother Nature Not Cooperating? Make Snow With a Pressure Washer

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How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

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If you want to see or play in snow, but Mother Nature won’t cooperate, you can take matters into your own hands and make snow yourself. This is the homemade version of real water ice snow, just like the snow that falls from the sky.

What You Need

You need the same things found in nature: water and cold temperature. You turn the water into snow by dispersing it into particles small enough to freeze in the cold air.

  • Water
  • Pressure nozzle

There is a handy snowmaking weather tool that will tell you whether you have the proper conditions for making snow. In some climates, the only way you’ll be able to make snow is if you chill a room indoors (or you can make fake snow), but much of the world can make real snow at least a few days out of the year.

Pressure Nozzle

You have several options:

  • Pressure washer (own or rent, use a fine mist nozzle or use a nozzle specially designed for producing snow)
  • Snow cannon (not affordable to buy, but can be rented)
  • Garden hose with a snow attachment (makes less snow per hour than the pressure washer or snow cannon, but still fun)

Note: Simply using a mister attached to a garden hose isn’t likely to work unless the temperature is very cold. The “mist” particles may not be small enough or far enough apart to turn water into ice.

Fine Mist

All you need to do is spray a fine mist of water into the air so it cools down enough to freeze into water ice or snow. There’s a technique to this.

Spray at Angle

You’ll get much better results if you point your water spray upward at a 45-degree angle rather than straight up. The amount of air you get mixed in with the water makes a difference, so you want to maximize this.

Water Cold as Possible

You also want the water to be as cold as possible, so water from a cold stream will work better than, say, heated water from your home.

Impurities Are Good

The water from a stream or river also has the advantage of containing impurities which can act as nucleation sites to provide a surface on which snow crystals can grow.

Add a ‘Nucleating Agent’

It’s also possible to add what is called a ‘nucleating agent’ to your water which will accomplish the same purpose, essentially allowing you to produce snow at slightly warmer temperatures.

The nucleating agent typically is a non-toxic polymer. Snow machines for ski resorts can use this effect to make snow even if the temperature is above freezing. If your water supply naturally contains a bit of sand, this can help you make snow at slightly warmer temperatures than if you were using pure water.

You need only a few hours of cold to make a lot of snow. The snow will last longer if the temperature stays cold, but it will take a while to melt even if it warms up.

Use Boiling Water

If the temperature outdoors is extremely cold, it’s actually easier to make snow using boiling hot water than cold water. This technique works reliably only if the temperature is at least 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (below -32 °C). To do this, throw a pan of freshly boiled water into the air.

Easy and Spectacular

It seems counter-intuitive that boiling water would readily turn to snow. How does it work? Boiling water has a high vapor pressure. The water is very close to making the transition between a liquid and a gas. Throwing the boiling water into the air offers the molecules a lot of surface area exposed to freezing temperatures. The transition is easy and spectacular.

Protect Hands and Face

While it’s likely anyone performing this process would be bundled up against the extreme cold, take care to protect your hands and face from the boiling water. Sloshing a pan of boiling water onto skin by accident can cause a burn. The cold weather numbs skin, so there’s an increased risk of getting a burn and not noticing it right away. Similarly, at such a cold temperature, there is a significant risk of frostbite to exposed skin.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

When looking for the best place to live, whether you’re retiring, going to school or looking for a fresh start, it’s a good idea to look at your options and what you think is an ideal location – just for you.

Size of City or Town

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I wanted to live in large urban centers, where things were happening, and I felt connected to the city’s pulse. Now that I’ve reached my forties, I find myself looking for a mix of both, where I can still find things I like to do but in a quieter, more connected community.

If you need a little mix of both, then you should look at what size of city or town you prefer. Are you into the urban scene or do you prefer the quiet, easy-going streets of a small town? Is the city you’re considering have small neighborhoods that can offer a small-town feel? Can you live in a small town that’s close to a larger city, still giving you access to the arts and cultural scene?

To find out the size of cities across the globe, go to City Population; it lists cities by country and provides stats based on the latest country census. Also check out City Data for information on everything you need to know about cities across the US, including weather (Step 2), population stats and unemployment rates.


Weather and climate are probably the most important factors for me when it comes time to choose the best place to live. Having grown up with the long, cold Canadian winters, now that I’m older and can choose where I want to live, I try very hard to make sure I don’t ever have to shovel snow again.

When deciding where to live, think about the kind of activities you enjoy and how much weather will affect those activities. Are you a hot weather person, cold weather person or do you like a moderate, year-round spring-like climate? What about the amount of rain or snow you can withstand?

For 10-day forecasts of cities worldwide, go to the Weather Channel’s website and get up-to-the-minute information; for climate information, including average temperatures, precipitation, and sea-level pressures, check out World Climate.

Culture, Entertainment, and Lifestyle

Start by making a list of all the things you like to do, including those activities you want to be doing, but can’t because your current living space doesn’t provide that option. If you’re into the great outdoors, you probably don’t want to be living in Manhattan or downtown LA, and maybe Seattle or Portland would be a better choice. However, if you’re into the arts and prefer a night of opera, Manhattan or LA or San Francisco may suit you better.

While we may not always take advantage of the opportunities that our city or town provides, it’s always better to have the option of doing things than no option at all. And to research your options, I recommend spending some time in your local bookstore, perusing the travel guides/city guides, and doing some online surfing. Most cities have their website, and local online newspapers will list activities and cultural events.

If your career comes before anything else, then you should check out Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For; here you’ll find information on average salaries, turnover rate and just what makes the company so great.

If you need some extra tips and advice for changing your career or preparing your resume, go to About’s site for Careers.

Infrastructure (Schools, Hospitals, Transportation)

Are you the kind of person who likes to take public transit to work, or want a short commute, or wants to avoid parking fees, traffic, and high gas prices? Find a city that has a good public transit system. And if you have family members who require good healthcare, then this should be a priority in choosing where to live. Make sure you consider all infrastructure needs of the entire family before you decide on where to live.

If you have children, then you’ll want to consider schools and how schools in a neighborhood rank. Of course, neighborhoods with higher ranking schools will be more expensive; it’s good to know before you move.

Outdoor Life

Most people equate a great place to live by the amount of outdoor activities available, the number of days you can be outside enjoying the weather and easy access to parks, beaches and all things green.


Now, some people are surprised that safety ranks so low on my list; that’s probably because I’m currently living in Canada, where the crime rates are typically low, even for large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Research the Internet: Using a search engine like Google or Yahoo or MSN, type in the name of the city and “crime statistics by neighborhood.” Identify the risk of personal and property crimes for a location. This should generate some information, depending on the size of the city. Most larger urban areas have detailed crime reports, while smaller towns may only have general information. Either way, this is a good place to start. Contact the Local Police Department: The police department will provide details about a particular area. It is probably your best source for information on crime and safety. Most police stations will also provide details on how active the community is if they are involved in crime prevention or community policing.

Forbes’ provides a listing of the Safest and Least Safest Places to Live, with stats and detailed information. And check out Sperling’s Crime Calculator – a great tool for getting fast data.


Think about the way you live, what is important to you and the values you take with you. Ask yourself if you prefer a conservative climate or a more liberal one? How does the city or county usually vote? How important are local politics? Is the social structure of a city or neighborhood important to you?

Cost of Living

For most people, this is a crucial piece of information to access; cost for housing, food, entertainment, and transportation are all factors in your decision. These helpful tools allow you to measure the cost of living in a variety of cities nationwide.

  • Cost of Living Calculator: Compare Cities
  • Cost of Living Comparison in Cities Worldwide: very interesting site!
  • Sperling’s Cost of Living Calculator: Good Tool
  • Bankrate’s Cost of Living Calculator


For many people, finding a community that supports one’s spiritual needs is important; likewise, some prefer to live in a city that offers a variety of churches, temples, and mosques.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

When foraging for delicious bites of snow, steer clear of plowed piles and manure, researchers say. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

When foraging for delicious bites of snow, steer clear of plowed piles and manure, researchers say.

Editor’s note: A version of this post first appeared in January 2015.

Many people will see the snow currently blanketing much of the U.S. Eastern Seaboard as a nuisance coating sidewalks and roads. Others are celebrating it as an excuse to spend the day swooshing down a hill.

As for me, I like to think of snow as food.

Growing up in Missouri, I consumed as much snow ice cream as possible from November to March. Each time the winter sky let loose, I caught a bowl of fresh flakes. My grandmother mixed raw eggs, cream and sugar and poured it over top.

Snow is one of the first “wild” foods small humans learn to forage. And this time of year it’s both free and plentiful to many.

But is snow a magical, local and seasonal specialty, or is it an adventure in extreme eating? As with many wild foods, it can be a bit of both.

I asked Jeff S. Gaffney, a professor of chemistry at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, if we were to package snow and put it on grocery store shelves, what would we have to put on the ingredient list?

“Primarily water,” he says, but also “various and sundry things depending on where it [comes from]” — things like sulfates, nitrates, formaldehyde or mercury.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

You can make snow cream with freshly fallen snow; milk, cream, or condensed milk; sugar; and vanilla. You can make it even richer with whole raw eggs. Overduebook/Flickr hide caption

You can make snow cream with freshly fallen snow; milk, cream, or condensed milk; sugar; and vanilla. You can make it even richer with whole raw eggs.

As it falls through the sky, snow, with its intricate latticework, forms a sort of net for catching pollutants that may be in the atmosphere. The most common is black carbon, or soot, released by coal-fired plants and wood-burning stoves.

That’s why John Pomeroy, a researcher who studies water resources and climate change at the University of Saskatchewan, suggests it’s better to wait until a few hours into the snowfall to gather your fresh catch. Snow acts like a kind of atmospheric “scrubbing brush,” he explains. The longer the snow falls, the lower the pollution levels in the air, and thus in the snow.

But even if you start to collect as soon as it begins to flurry, Gaffney reassures me that contaminants in snow are “all at levels well below toxic.”

Long-lost pesticides might also show up in snow in some places, according to Staci Simonich, a professor of environmental and toxic ecology at Oregon State University. She found pesticides that were 30, 40 and 50 years old in high elevations in several U.S. national parks (including Olympic in Washington, Denali in Alaska and Sequoia in California). But the levels were 100 times lower than what’s deemed safe for drinking water.

And what about in urban and suburban areas, where most of us harvest our snow? Simonich says that pesticide concentrations are likely higher in backyard snow. “That being said, I would not hesitate for my children to have the joy of eating a handful of fresh fallen snow from my backyard. . Because the pesticide concentrations are low and the amount of snow eaten in a handful is small, so the one-time dose is very low and not a risk to health.”

But if it’s windy, take heed, says Sarah Doherty, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington. She recently discovered that dirt can mix in with snow as it falls — especially in places like the northern Great Plains, where there are lots of open fields and dirt roads. That’s where Doherty took samples of freshly fallen snow in 20- to 30-mph winds.

“The snow comes out of the cloud,” she explains, “and when it gets within a few meters of the ground, it gets mixed with soil that’s blowing around.” Whether that makes the snow unsafe to eat depends entirely on what’s in the soil, says Doherty.

Just as you’d want to avoid the yellow snow, if you’ve just had a load of manure delivered in advance of spring planting and suddenly a blizzard whips through, a strong wind can quickly ruin the fresh snowball you’d planned to devour.

And “never eat snow that’s been plowed,” advises Mark Williams of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. It’s likely to contain sand and chemicals such as magnesium chloride. “All this gets incorporated into the plowed snow and is bad for you.”

But even though they note that pollutants like sulfates, mercury and DDT could appear in low levels in snow, almost all the researchers The Salt spoke with said they would still eat it, and even savor it.

According to Pomeroy, “It is well-known amongst snow chemists that fresh Arctic snow goes very well with 15-year-old single malt whisky.”

Of course, not everyone is so sanguine about what we unwittingly may be scooping up with snow. “As a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids to eat snow in urban areas in general,” Parisa Ariya of Canada’s McGill University recently told the Huffington Post. She was the lead researcher on a 2016 paper that found falling snow can soak up unsavory chemicals from gasoline exhaust in the air, like toluene, xylenes and benzene, a known carcinogen.

Researchers are generally less concerned about what’s in the snow than the fact that climate change may be causing it to rapidly disappear, especially in Western regions of the U.S. “Enjoy it now, because there’s a whole lot less of it,” says Anne Nolin, a hydroclimatologist at Oregon State University.

Anne Bramley is the author of Eat Feed Autumn Winter and the host of the Eat Feed podcast. Twitter: @annebramley

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

1 of 6 A school bus is driven along a snow covered road on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, in Loudonville, N.Y. Some school districts were delayed or canceled while others remained open. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union) Paul Buckowski/Albany Times Union Show More Show Less

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Sadie Pelletier of Glenville, 9, braves the bitter cold and finds fun sledding on a hill in Central Park on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 in Schenectady, N.Y. In the 2020-2021 school year, New York is piloting a program that would allow districts to have remote learning instead of snow days. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

3 of 6 P.J. Pelletier of Glenville, 11, braves the bitter cold and finds fun sledding on a hill in Central Park on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 in Schenectady, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) Lori Van Buren Show More Show Less

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

4 of 6 P.J. Pelletier of Glenville, 11, braves the bitter cold and finds fun sledding on a hill in Central Park on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 in Schenectady, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) Lori Van Buren Show More Show Less

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Sarah Devernoe of Troy holds her friends daughter Ellie Gribben, 10, while her brother Caleb Devernoe, 8, at left, catches up to them on his sled at Frear Park on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 in Troy, N.Y. In the 2020-2021 school year, New York is piloting a program that would allow districts to have remote learning instead of snow days. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

Lori Van Buren/Albany Times Union Show More Show Less

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Bethlehem Middle School students on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, on Kenwood Avenue in Delmar, N.Y. Will Waldron/Times Union)

Will Waldron/Albany Times Union Show More Show Less

ALBANY — The tricks kids (and perhaps some school staff) use to try and ensure a snow day happens the next morning — from wearing your pajamas inside out to flushing ice cubes down the toilet — might be a thing of the past.

In a note from the New York Department of Education this week, school districts said they can do remote learning instead of having staff and students off because of inclement weather.

The pandemic forced all school districts across the state to move to online learning in March. Thanks to that innovation (or not thanks to that) the coveted snow day might become extinct.

However, there is hope for those who would rather sled than do school work. The state only presents remote learning on snow days as an option, and one that districts can opt in or out of on a trial basis this year.

At the end of the 2020-21 school year, the education department plans to review the pilot to determine whether to keep the option permanently.

Maribeth Macica, public information specialist for Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES, said the district is unsure whether they would opt for remote learning over canceling school.

BOCES provides alternative learning opportunities for children in participating counties, and often is a barometer for what is going on in school districts since BOCES is involved with so many of them.

“We follow our larger neighboring school districts,” she said. “We’re taking a poll at the moment,” Macica said. “And we’re not quite sure if it’ll really apply to us at this point.”

Gladys Cruz, superintendent of Questar III BOCES, said her district would certainly be interested in the option if it could be negotiated with their teacher’s union.

Considering how much schooling students have lost since the pandemic shutdown in March, any chance to make it up would likely be welcomed by educators.

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“I understand students’ perspectives, but I think being able to continue the learning when there is definitely that summer slide loss is important that we can continue to try to close those gaps — and then we can play,” she said.

Cruz said that continuity of learning is particularly important for grade-school students that are building their educational foundation.

“This is to allow the districts additional flexibility in meeting the local needs during the pandemic,” she said. “I’m very appreciative that the state is allowing this pilot, and I think this is something that districts will take advantage of if they can negotiate with their teacher unions.”

The note to school districts on snow days read:

A message from the New York State Education Department:

As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to provide districts with flexibility in meeting local needs during the pandemic, the Department is establishing a one-year pilot to enable school districts, at district option, and consistent with each district’s re-opening educational plan, to pivot to remote instruction to provide continuity of instruction on what would otherwise be a day of school closure due to a snow emergency. This pilot is in effect for the 2020-21 school year, after which the Department will review the outcome of the pilot in determining whether to continue this flexibility in subsequent school years.

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People can try to read various adverts from magazines and also newspapers about these snow removal services in their own place, this would help them on which ones are the best to hire. People need to choose a snow removal service that has a liability insurance, this would get to make sure that they can pay easily the damage that can happen by accident in their home.

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Updated July 2, 2020, 5:25pm EDT

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Microsoft Teams has been able to blur your background during video calls for nearly 2 years, but now you can choose a virtual background or upload your own custom backdrop. Here’s how to do it.

Use a Built-In Background in Microsoft Teams

To change your background to one of the built-in images, click the three-dot menu icon while on a Microsoft Teams video call and choose “Show Background Effects” to open the “Background Settings” panel.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

That’s all there is to it. The next time someone calls you in Teams, they will now see that image as your virtual background.

Use a Custom Background in Microsoft Teams

Following this post being published, Microsoft added an official and user-friendly option for adding custom backgrounds in Teams. Instead of jumping through several hoops laid out in the following section, there is now an “Add New” button found at the top of the “Background Settings” page that allows you to upload your own image.

The Original Way to Add Custom Backgrounds

The process for using a custom background is the same, except you have to put the image you want to use in a special folder.

On Windows, open the Windows Explorer and go to %Appdata%/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads . If you’re on Mac,

Find the image you want to use—perhaps a Star Wars image—and copy it into that folder.

Now, go back to the Microsoft Teams application, close the “Background Settings” panel if it’s open, click the three-dot menu icon on a video call, and choose “Show Background Effects.”

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

Your custom picture will be available at the bottom of the panel. Select the image and then click the “Apply” button.

How to Choose a Can of Fake Snow

You can add as many custom backgrounds as you like and switch between them during calls. Your choice doesn’t persist over different calls, though, so you’ll have to apply your background each time you start a new call.