Christmas Science Experiments – Melt An Indoor Snowman

Christmas Science ExperimentWelcome to the Melting Snowman Science Experiment.

The Christmas holidays are a wonderful time for families and children.

It’s my favorite time of the year and one where I look forward to taking some quality time away from the office, visit family and spend as much time as possible with my children.

There is plenty of time to catch up with family and friends as well as indulging in our favorite foods and tasty treats.

Keep Them Interested!

Of course, there is a downside to all of these festivities. Adults and children are taken out of their daily routines and interactions. It’s not uncommon for children to become a little frustrated and bored over the holidays.

I find that reaching into the experiment archives and engaging in Christmas science experiments, is a great way to re-energize children. Using a Christmas theme for these experiments helps to get them motivated and maintain interest.

Our Christmas experiment will be centered around helping one of our favorite winter icons, to get out of the cold and indulge in some science experimentation indoors. Snowman Science Experiment

Sounds a bit crazy I know but we will build an indoor snowman or two and then investigate how scientific reactions can help our snowman melt without altering the temperature.

Of course, everything is not exactly as it seems but it will help us to explain a very important scientific reaction.

Chemical Compounds – What Are They?

Early scientists divided chemical compounds into three specific categories

  • Bases
  • Acids
  • Salts

In this snowman experiment, we are going to perform an activity that is fun, creative and provides a learning opportunity to see and understand the reaction of Bases and Acids as they are combined.

There are a number of theories which provide alternative concepts around the mechanics behind these base – acid reactions, but for the purpose of simplicity, we will concentrate on the physical experimentation and simple explanation of the reactions.

What Do We Need To Make An Indoor Snowman? – Melting Snowman Recipe

The measurements below are enough to make a good size single snowman or two smaller snowmen.  You can obviously scale up the amounts if you decide to make a whole family of them.

  • 470ml (2 Cups or 1 pint) of baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • Squirt of clear hand soap or white shaving foam
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • Felt disks for buttons and eyes
  • Orange small triangle of felt for nose
  • Pipe cleaners for arms
  • Bottle of white vinegar
  • Baking Tray or Pyrex dish for standing the snowmen in

Let’s Make Indoor Snowman

Empty the baking soda into the mixing bowl and add the salt. Give the mixture a good stir with the spoon so that the baking soda and salt are combined.

Add a couple of squirts of clear hand soap or white shaving foam to the mixture and mix again with the spoon. You will notice that the small balls white balls start to form on the surface of the mixture. This is the consistency we are looking for at this stage.

Indoor SnowAdd a little water to the mixture and continue to stir. The powder will start to thicken and bind together, as you add a little water at a time. We want the mixture to be the consistency or fresh snow. It should be a little firm and not too wet.

I have performed this experiment using the shaving cream and the soap separately. The end results will be exactly the same but the shaving foam adds a fresher smell and a slightly creamier texture to the snow.

The choice is yours.

 

Building A Snowman

Everyone has their own ideas as to how a snowman should look, so this is the time for the children to get creative and make a snowman to be proud of.

The snow can be formed into balls, just as you would with real snow, The good news, however, is that this time your hands will stay nice and warm.

Form the snowman using either one or two balls of snow for the body and a smaller one for the head. You can use small felt buttons for the eyes and a small piece of orange felt, cut into a triangle for the nose. Felt buttons also look great on the body to make realistic looking buttons. We used pipe cleaners for the arms, as they can be manipulated to form different hand positions. You could also use small twigs from the garden as an alternative.

There is a lot of fun and interaction to be had in creating a snowman so take your time and enjoy the experience with your children. You could also make double the mixture and have a snowman creation competition.

The great thing about this snow is that it will not melt at room temperature so you could also display your snowman for as long as you like.

Snowman

I’m Melting!

The indoor snow will last quite some time at room temperature, so in order for the children to see a melting snowman, we will need something to help him on his way. This is where the white vinegar comes in.

Ensure that the snowman is in the middle of the baking tray and that the sides of the baking try are high enough to retain the vinegar, once it has been poured.

Slowly pour the white vinegar over the snowman the top of the snowman. What happens?

What Happened To Our Snowman?

Once the vinegar comes into contact with the snowman, you will see that the snow starts to foam and run down the body of the snowman, creating an accelerated melting process. As you pour more vinegar, the snow will continue to melt until our snowman is just a white puddle. The melting process will continue until there is no more active ingredient in the baking soda to react with the vinegar.

It’s rather like teleporting a real snowman to the Sahara Desert!

Dual Chemical Reactions

The melting of the snowman is, in fact, two chemical reactions happening very quickly, in front of your eyes.

The first reaction is caused by a base compound, in this case, Baking Soda (Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate), combining with the Acetic Acid in the white vinegar. Vinegar is a solution consisting of acetic acid (5%) and water (95%).

Acids want to give away Hydrogen atoms that are positively charged. Base compounds, on the other hand, are opposite and are ready to grab hold of available Hydrogen atoms. This swapping of atoms is able to take place due to the high energy available when bringing acid and base compounds together.

The first reaction between the baking soda and the Acetic Acid produces sodium acetate and water.

Water is sometimes added to base compounds and acids to calm down the intensity of this exchange.

Water is a solution that will act as a host to allow for the break up of the base and the acid in this reaction. In water, baking soda breaks apart into a positively-charged sodium ion and a negatively charged bicarbonate ion.

Acetic acid doesn’t break apart on its own in water as much as sodium bicarbonate; it’s mostly diluted so it’s not as strong.

When we mix baking soda and acetic acid in water together, acetic acid gives its proton to the broken-apart baking soda and together they form sodium acetate (CH3COONa), water (H2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

These products are created quickly, and the carbon dioxide is decomposed into a gas.

This decomposition reaction and resulting carbon dioxide gases, produce the visible bubbles and foaming during the melting of the snowman.

Fun With Themed Experiments

Participating in simple and engaging science experiments is a fantastic way to spend quality time with your children. Creating the snow and the building of the snowman is a real winner with kids and gives grown-ups the opportunity to get hands-on time with their children.

Seasonally themed experiments can really help to focus the mind and increase the enjoyment of the interaction.

I really hope that you enjoy this experiment.

If you have any suggestions, feedback or questions, I would be more than happy to take the time to reply to your comments.

Merry Christmas!

Nick

bestscienceexperimentsforkids.com

34 comments

  • This is fun and informative. This can keep us entertained and also can be taken as a learning curve. Great Article Nick

  • Angie

    This is amazing! The kids are out of school this week for winter break, and I’ve been searching for ideas to keep them distracted. I can’t wait to try this out and wait for the giggles. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hello Nick!
    Wow, this seems like so much fun. I was so excited reading this that I just had to share it with my daughters so they can try it with their kids. I can’t wait to hear how it works for them.

    It is a really clever idea and so much learning too! I am curious what the reactions will be and the questions too. I truly adore experiential hands on experiences like this because it is wrapped in play and become a very easy way to integrate new information and learning skills.
    The kids will really remember this fun experiment .That will in turn drive their love for learning and science. Really terrific.

    What new experiments will you be showcasing next?
    In peace and gratitude, ariel

    • Hi Ariel, thank you so much for the positive feedback.
      You really hit the nail on the head about the real importance of these experiments as learning a learning experience through play and having fun! I hope your daughter enjoys performing this with her own children.

      This week I will be posting the Soda Geyser experiment, which is great fun and for everyone.
      Can get a little messy too! Please come back to take a look.
      Best Wishes, Nick

  • Hi Nick, Brilliant idea! At today’s dinner, we discussed and updated our holiday schedules. We have two full days unfilled. We will definitely take one to make an indoor snowman. My kids checked your recipes and we have everything for the science project. I will try to show you a picture of the snowman. Thanks for sharing your fun with us!

    • Hi Anthony, thank you for taking the time to comment and your kind words about the snowman experiment.
      I would really like to see your photo when you are finished and I truly hope you enjoy the experience!

  • Nick, I love your indoor snowman experiment. I will definitely try it with my boys. My older son is almost 5 and he just loves to experiment with baking soda and vinegar. It can keep him entertain for hours. He often just takes stuff from the kitchen cabinets to see what happens if he will mix them together: sugar, oil, milk, food dyes anything he can mix and stir. Thanks for the fun we will have making this.

    • Hi Maria. Thank you for the great comments.
      This is a great experiment for 5-year-olds, although be prepared to make a batch of snowmen. One is never enough when they get started.
      If you have food dyes around then you can add those to the mix and make some interesting monsters!

  • I am visiting my sister and her children over the holidays, so I will have plenty of time to spend with them. This looks like it will be a great experiment for them to enjoy. The kids will be plenty occupied by the wonders of this experiment.

    I do have a question though. When making this snowman, are there any elaborations on it to make the experiment more interesting? I look forward to hearing your answer. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    • Hope you are having a great break away Alex. The creative side of this experiment is really fun for kids. You can make a number of snowmen and have competitions to see who can melt their snowman first. The more vinegar you use at one time makes for a more vigorous melting process. Using soft squeezy bottles to hold the vinegar will help here.

      My daughter made Olaf from the Disney movie, Frozen as a variation on the snowman theme. Also, feel free to add food coloring and you can come up with all kinds of monsters and creature. Please let me know what you made!

      Next week I will be writing a quick update on this experiment with a volcano twist, so check back soon for an update.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment Alex. All the best!

  • This sounds so much fun Nick! Being creative and learning at the same time… my two godchildren (8 and 9) are super curious little boys and it´s kind of hard to satisfy their always growing curiosity… just passed your article on to their mum to make sure we try this when I visit them next time… Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Jasmere

    That’s a really cool experiment! I don’t have any kids of my own but I do have a baby cousin that could try this. What an awesome idea! I would have loved to try this as a kid.

  • Despite it being June, my daughter was singing Christmas songs into her karaoke machine the other day. Ugh! I am going to try this out with her over summer break. I think it will still be a hit even though Christmas or snow here is months away. Thanks for idea! You have an awesome concept for a website here. I hope you keep it going.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Caleb! I hope you were able to try out the experiment with your daughter and she enjoyed it.
      The website will keep going after I just returned from some time off.
      Please come back and check soon and more fantastic experiments and reviews are in the pipeline!

  • AV 2001

    Hey Nick! How are you? Thanks a lot for taking your time in writing this post as you’ve provided us with tonnes of valuable information. I really enjoyed reading it and it reminded of my school days. You’ve explained it really well but I have one question. Is it safe to perform these inside the house?

    Thanks in advance for answering my question. I’ll keep checking your website for latest posts. Well done!!!

    • Hi there, thank you so much for taking the time to come in a read our my post. It’s a common thread that these experiments remind people of their school days. I hope that’s a good thing for you.

      This experiment is safe to perform inside and even for children and adults to touch the residue of the decomposition.
      Harmless foam and water are the lasting results.

      I look forward to your comments in the future. Take care!

  • Barry

    I love Christmas too… It is one of my favourite festive periods that I enjoyed with family and friends and have more colourful meals too. 

    Thanks for this Christmas science experiment to build an Sn☃️wman and explore scientifically how it will be melted without altering the temperature of the surroundings. The chemical reaction of the base and acid reminds me of my days in college.

    This experiment is educative and fun filled too.

  • Dany

    Wow, what a great idea! Thank you for this.I’m always in search for new and interesting ideas to engage and keep busy my kids. This is a great activity for winter holidays, and all the family can be involved.

    I agree with you, the kids get easily bored during the holidays, parents busy with Christmas preparations, on Christmas days visits and long dinners.

    Thank you for this experiment, I’ll save it for holidays and waiting for new interesting ideas.

    • Hi Dany, thank you for taking the time to comment. The experiment is very simple but can be a welcome distraction from the festivities.
      This type of experiment can generate a lot of questions and excitement.

      It’s fun to involve our kids in a “hands-on” activity.

  • Henry

    Hi! Thank you so much! This is fun! It’s not only an occasion for our kids to learn but it will also teach us a couple of things!

    And it creates great family memories, while we have fun with our kids! I really like that expression and will use it as a headline before stating the experiment melting the snowman: “Come on, let’s teleport Mr. Snowman to the Sahara Desert!” 🙂

    • I enjoyed the headline, Henry! Creating illusions with this type of experiment is a wonderful way to create wonder and questions from all involved. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Chris

    Well I certainly know what it’s like to have two bored kids in the house over the Christmas period – not much fun at all! 

    I really like the idea of doing something like this with them – something educational as well as fun at the same time. I also like the opportunity to be able to go through the snowman recipe with them, they’ll really like that. 

    What ages do you feel this kind of experiment is suitable for? 

    • I hope you enjoy the experiment, it’s very easy to do and good fun.  The ingredients are harmless and safe for the children to touch and get messy with.  I did this with my four year old and he loved it.

  • Chrissie Spurgeon

    This is absolutely fascinating, and I can’t think of any children to who it would not appeal.

    As you say, it would be a great thing to do with children over the Christmas holidays after the original excitement of Christmas has faded a little.

    WhenI first saw the title, I thought that it sounded great, but that I probably would not be able to do it because we rarely have snow over Christmas. So I was really thrilled to find out that it doesn’t involve real snow!

    I just can’t wait to do this experiment with children in the holiday, and I have bookmarked your page to refer back to. I will also be trying some of the other experiments on your site.

    Thank you so much for this great post

    Chrissie 🙂

    • Nick

      Thanks for taking the time to reply, Chrissie.

      It’s fun to do and you can experiment with different creations.  A great alternative is to make a volcano shape from the mixture and add a little red food coloring to the vinegar.  

      The result is a erupting volcano with a lava flow!

  • Nate Stone

    Hi Nick,

    A great idea to keep the kids entertained over the Christmas holidays. I have a five year old and a nice year old, this works well for both of them, my youngest will be impressed just to have a snowman in the house, and my eldest will be interested in the scientific element as well! How long does the snow man last If you don’t pour vinegar on it?

    • Nick

      Hi Nate,

      Thanks for commenting.

      As you can imaging the shaving foam and soap combination doesn’t last too long and will start to break down within a few minutes at normal room temperature and atmospheric pressure. I would say they will last about 10 minutes, before it starts to look like a real snowman indoors!

  • cjciganotto

    Hello Nick,

    How beautiful it would be to have a snowman inside our house, next Christmas. 

    I will write down all the recipe that you give and I will do a test before to see how the doll looks. 

    The truth is an idea that will please our kids a lot. If I get it right, then I’ll build it with them.

    Any questions I will contact you again.

    Greetings. Claudio

    • Nick

      Hi Claudio,

      Appreciate the comment!

      The mixture is really easy to create, so you shouldn’t run into any problems.

      Building snowmen together is a fun thing to do together. Enjoy!

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