Can you burn snow?
Not really a question, but when camping recently, the SO and I were about to melt snow for water when she says "Put a drop of water in the bottom otherwise the snow burns".
WT?!?! Apparently she was told this on an expedition in Greenland – when the snow is so cold apprently it burns before it melts because it is too dry. Plus she reckons they could smell burning if they didn't put a small amount of water in the bottom first.
I know water will help conduct the heat better from pan to ice but burning snow? Never heard anything like it…!Posted 8 years ago
Utter tripe I'm IMO. You can sublime the snow (i.e. turn it directly to gas without the water stage, which would be a waste and may happen in this case) but it can't burn, it doesn't oxidise. What they're suggesting is adding the water to gently heat the ice so that it doesnt get chance to "sublime away" before getting turned into tea. There should be bugger all impurities in good snow (non-yellow etc). It could be that you were using a teflon coated pan and THAT burns off when overheated without fluid in it.Posted 8 years agosimonfbarnesMember
burns into what ?
Burning in air is adding oxygen to it, and the only molecule I know that you can get by adding oxygen to water is hydrogen peroxide, however, that reaction is endothermic – ie you have to add energy to make it happen, and I think it would require high pressures and/or catalystsPosted 8 years agoaracerSubscriber
No of course not – but the pan might, just as if you put it on the heat with nothing in it.
I should be extremely surprised if you managed to sublime snow/ice. You'd need to be at extremely high altitude to manage that, at which point lack of water would be the least of your worries. From a practical point of view though, due to the difference in heat conduction between snow and water you could boil off any liquid water as fast as you melt it.Posted 8 years ago
I should be extremely surprised if you managed to sublime snow/ice. You'd need to be at extremely high altitude to manage that, at which point lack of water would be the least of your worries.
No you don't, that's why icecubes shrink over time and food gets dried out if left in the freezer for ages. I think…Posted 8 years ago5thElefantMember
Probably stuff on the pan burning rather than water. Having water in the pan probably help to protect it by preventing it getting above 100C.
Yep. I can't imagine snow is a great conductor of heat and snow requires energy to change state to water so it will take a while before it starts taking heat away from the pan efficiently.Posted 8 years agoaracerSubscriber
You're kind of right – my mistake, CK. You can sublime ice given sufficiently dry air, hence low partial pressure of water vapour (I was thinking it required that low atmospheric pressure). I still think you're unlikely to get those conditions inside your pan apart from for a very short period – the water vapour you initially generate will increase the partial pressure and prevent further sublimation.Posted 8 years agoDigbySubscriber
In my experience it's the pan and any residue left in it that makes the melted snow taste burned (burned rubber actually!) if you don't use a little melted water to start things off … oh and add a little snow at a time and letthat melt rather than just filling a pan with snow and cranking the heat upPosted 8 years ago
It's true you can give wated melted from snow a 'burnt' taste. I speak from experience, also in Greenland and other places. It seems a bit like scorching the snow, it goes from cold to very hot too quickly.
Give over, it's only because you're dumb enough to burn the pan surface and then dissolve the residue. Put it this way, I spent last weekend "burning" snow for food, none of it tasted like it was burned. Nor was any of it, because you cant burn H2O. It's chemically impossible.Posted 8 years ago
There should be bugger all impurities in good snow (non-yellow etc).
😕 I'm unconvinced. Well at least it depends on the definition of "good snow" I guess. I can't imagine that there's much snow which falls on the British Isles which free of impurities – however white it might be. As long as it falls through anything other than pure air, I can't see how it won't pick up impurities on the way down. I once made the mistake of collecting vast amounts of very pure white virgin snow, in the mistaken belief that once melted, it could be used in my amazonian tropical fishtank 😐Posted 8 years ago
I spent the weekend boiling snow, the only impurities I could see or taste were where I collected it too close to trees that had shed some barky bits between snowfalls. Of course there may be some level of impurity but not to the extent that you'll be able to BURN it. Impurities may be acids and carbon particles, but both in such TINY quantities that you'd never notice. The melted snow I collected was pretty much tasteless, bar the slight hint of aluminium always present in a freshly scraped trangia pot.Posted 8 years ago
I spent the weekend boiling snow, the only impurities I could see or taste were where I collected it too close to trees that had shed some barky bits between snowfalls.
But it would be interesting to see what it contained other than what you could see or taste, ie, a full analysis. Just for the record, I don't believe for a moment that any impurities would enough to "burn".
And I don't understand the OP's suggestion – surely the snow would melt slowly as the pan warmed up, so there would be "a drop of water in the bottom" very quickly ? The pan can't get hot, whilst the snow remains cold.Posted 8 years ago
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