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.