We’re all very, very well aware that we shouldn’t be eating the yellow snow, but what about the regular white fluffy stuff? Whether it’s catching snowflakes on your tongues as they fall, accidentally taking a mouthful in the face during a snowball fight, or even taking things up a notch and committing to the culinary arts by making snow cream – is eating snow actually safe?
The answer is yes, probably, with a few caveats. In theory, snow is cleaner than rain because of the way it’s created. When ice crystals are forming, there’s not much room left for impurities to hitch a ride. However, some studies have shown that snow tends to collect even more heavy metals and atmospheric pollutants on the way down to earth due to a larger surface area and slower traveling speed.
In reality, snow is unlikely to catch enough gunk to actually hurt you unless there’s some kind of extraordinary circumstance, like a volcanic eruption or you happen to live near a pollution-heavy factory. But it can get even worse when snow actually hits the ground, where it’s able to absorb pesticides and chemical runoff and all sort of nastiness from the surrounding soil.
So, if you’re set on eating snow this holiday season but want to avoid even the slimmest chance of heavy metal poisoning, here are a few tricks and tips to get you there.
Patience is a virtue
Wait a couple of hours into the snowfall for the freshest stuff, after the first round of precipitation has scrubbed the sky of most of its pollution. You wash your vegetables first, right? Well, think of this the same way –– by waiting for the later snow, you make sure that the snow you indulge in is the cleanest of it all.
Get a clean catcher
If you’re planning anything more ambitious than just floating your tongue into the cold winter air, use something clean and fresh like that cute new bowl your mother-in-law bought you this year to catch the falling snow as it falls, rather than scooping it off the ground post-landing. If you missed the actual event and simply must stoop to ground level, avoid snow of any color at all, especially if it’s been plowed (hello chemicals).
Everything, even precipitation, in moderation
Don’t overdo it! Keep your consumption levels light and fluffy – you know, like snow – and you’re unlikely to ingest anything dangerous. Brain freezes have more to do with velocity than mass, but we’re just here to tell you which snow to eat, not how quickly to inhale it.