How to Turn Boiling Water into Snow

December 13, 2018

Last winter, I was determined to try that boiling water trick out for myself. So early one morning, Sean and I got the water ready, grabbed the camera, and headed out to the lake. Here are some tips on how you can turn boiling water into snow (and photograph it).


It has to be cold enough.

It definitely has to be well below zero in order to be successful with this. We took this photo on January 6th, 2018 when it was -20° out.


You have to use boiling water.

Not just hot, boiling. We had about six or seven thermoses that we filled up and put in a cooler so that they stayed as hot as possible.


Shoot around sunrise or sunset.

Position yourself so that whoever is taking the photo is shooting into the sun. That way, when you throw the water, it lights up from behind.


Get your camera settings right.

The photo above was shot at f/13, 1/320, and ISO 640.

I chose f/13 because I wanted to get that starburst effect with the sun behind me. High f-stops create that look. I actually wrote an entire blog post about this topic and tips on how to shoot a starburst photo.

Since my f-stop was so high, I needed to bring more light into the photo. To do this, I set my shutter speed at 1/320 which brightened the photo. It was also a fast enough shutter speed so that my motion wasn’t blurred.

Finally, I went with an ISO of 640. This added even more light to the photo.


Choose the right drive mode.

Make sure your camera is in continuous shooting drive mode. This means that as long as you’re pressing the shutter button, the camera will continue shooting. This will allow you to capture every frame from when you start throwing the water until you stop.


Be careful!

You are throwing boiling water over your head, after all. I’d suggest doing a test run by throwing one of your thermoses away from you first, instead of over your head. That way, you can confirm that it’s in fact cold enough and boiling water isn’t going to be falling on top of you.

I’d still recommend covering up as best you can, especially by wearing gloves and a hat (which I’m sure you’ll have on anyway since it’s winter).


Take care of your camera afterwards.

Below zero temperatures aren’t exactly your cameras best friend. I would recommend doing this trick as quickly as possible so that your camera isn’t battling the elements for too long. Sean and I were probably outside for only fifteen minutes before we ran back to the truck and drove home.  Once you’re inside, keep your camera in your camera bag so that it warms up slowly. This helps prevent any condensation from forming inside of it.