Check out the video below and then stick around for the science:


The science of making ice fog

The science here is relatively straight forward. What is going on is an interaction of extreme temperatures and the properties of water. First you need some boiling hot water. Even though it looks like all of the water in the video is turning into icy fog, in reality only the water vapor released from the boiling water is. Therefore to make this work you need water as hot as you can get it, creating the most water vapor, and need to violently spread the water out as you toss it, exposing the most amount of vapor to the surrounding air.

Second, you need incredibly cold surroundings. The video above claims the air temperature is -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius). When the heated water vapor is thrown out into this frigid air, the vapor quickly condenses, becomes supersaturated (the vapor contains more water than the surrounding air would normally contain), and the small water droplets that condense out of this process freeze into miniscule ice particles (as a function of the cold temperatures).

You can see the progression if we look at the phase diagram for water below:

At a boiling temperature of 100 degrees and an atmospheric pressure of 1 atmosphere, around 1/3 or more of the water is in a vapor form and the rest is still water. When you throw this combination into the freezing air, we follow the dotted line to the left as the temperature of the water decreases. The portion of the water that is vapor quickly freezes into tiny ice particles and creates a fog, and the rest of the liquid water eventually freezes on the ground.

So, it is not the liquid water in the video that is freezing to make fog, but the vapor from the boiling water.

See how even the simplest seeming videos can be made from complicated science? It’s even more amazing when you know the processes behind it.

Learn more here.

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