Here’s What Happens to Boiling Water When It’s This Freezing Out

Don't try this at home.

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If you haven’t heard, the U.S. is in the throes of something called a polar vortex, which kind of sounds like the name of a self-aware ice-monster that would eat everyone in a sci-fi thriller set in Scandinavia. But it turns out it’s just a whirlwind of cold, dense air that’s causing sub-zero temperatures across the U.S.

Wisconsin-based meterologist Eric Holthaus decided to take this extreme weather as an opportunity to conduct a little experiment. When the temperature outside his home reached minus 21 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 51, he went out and tossed a pot of boiling water into the air. It immediately turned into a misty cloud of snow.

Holthaus, who moved to the Midwest from Arizona just a few months ago, told Slate that this was his first time trying the trick and he didn’t expect it to work. But other curious folks have also given it a whirl and have seen similar results, like this amateur scientist in Canada who squirted boiling water from a water gun:

Of course, this trick isn’t for amateurs. BuzzFeed reports that a bunch of people quickly followed in Holthaus’ stead, attempting the trick–and got burned. So uh, don’t try this at home.

If you haven’t heard, the U.S. is in the throes of something called a polar vortex, which kind of sounds like the name of a self-aware ice-monster that would eat everyone in a sci-fi thriller set in Scandinavia. But it turns out it’s just a whirlwind of cold, dense air that’s causing sub-zero temperatures across the U.S.

Wisconsin-based meterologist Eric Holthaus decided to take this extreme weather as an opportunity to conduct a little experiment. When the temperature outside his home reached minus 21 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 51, he went out and tossed a pot of boiling water into the air. It immediately turned into a misty cloud of snow.

Holthaus, who moved to the Midwest from Arizona just a few months ago, told Slate that this was his first time trying the trick and he didn’t expect it to work. But other curious folks have also given it a whirl and have seen similar results, like this amateur scientist in Canada who squirted boiling water from a water gun:

Of course, this trick isn’t for amateurs. BuzzFeed reports that a bunch of people quickly followed in Holthaus’ stead, attempting the trick–and got burned. So uh, don’t try this at home.