Roy Exum: Oh, The Boiling Water Trick

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the Polar Vortex made much of the United States colder than Antarctica at the start of this week, it immediately became the rage for many to try out the “boiling water trick.” It seems that if you take boiling water and hurl it into the intense cold air, the mass turns instantly into a cloud of snow. The result is pretty cool, to cop a phrase.

You see, if you spray cold water, it clings to tiny sodium or calcium particles and crystalizes like an icicle. But boiling water – which is actually steam when it is heated over 212 degrees -- has a lower viscosity than cold water. The hot water, or steam, breaks into tiny droplets when it hits the frigid air and will vaporize almost instantly due to a high ratio of surface area-to-volume. There you have it -- your have your own snow cloud.

Sadly, you also have a rash of those “Ya’ll Watch This!” yahoos who wind up in the emergency rooms with third-degree burns. The Los Angeles Times, in a stirring expose of mankind, reported yesterday that at least 50 of the silly experiences didn’t work due to what is politely called “the human element.” That’s right; the modern-day Einsteins promptly threw scalding water onto themselves in a marked lack-of-technique.

According to a funny story written by Matt Pearce, our victims had seen the stunt pulled on the ABC Nightly News and other TV stations. Jason DeRusha, a news anchor in Minneapolis, tweeted, “Just threw a pot of boiling water in the air. Kids thought it was awesome. Do it people.”

And soon the cries from the clowns started rolling in. “I’m working in the ER today & this woman just got 2nd degree burns from trying to freeze boiling water in the air!”

Other lines found by the Times’ staff included:

* * *

--  "Blayne and I just did the boiling water thing and I accidentally threw all the BOILING water against the wind and burnt myself."

--  "So I did the thing where you make snow and not all the boiling water froze and now my head is burned."

--  "I did that boiling water thing except I threw it weird so it came back and burnt my hand."

--  "So I did that boiling water snow thing but the wind whipped it back at me and my hands are STILL burning lol I can't hold anything."

--  "so my mom threw boiling water outside and she threw it on herself and burnt herself."

--  "Tried throwing boiling water in the air. Burnt my hand."

* * *

Is America great or what? There is one hysterical tape on YouTube that I’d share if it didn’t have the cussing when the scalding water hits the performer. DeRusha, the Minneapolis TV guy, hurriedly Tweeted, “Sorry that anyone got hurt! I look forward to all the posts from Minnesotans who did this safely.” On Tuesday he issued another Tweet. “None of these people (who got hurt) are from MN or followers of mine.”

Boy, you can’t cure stupid. Anything that involves electricity, ladders, scalding water or blood requires a professional. I’m telling you: just take their word for it.

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