Ever wonder what happens when you throw boiling water into the air when it’s -2F or colder? For those who are used to warmer climates, let’s just say that it’s definitely a reaction you don’t expect, and it involves lots of crystals. Continue reading to see more.

Now that you’ve seen the video, here’s what happened. Basically, it takes time for the energy contained in a hot object to be transferred to a cold object. However, the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature difference between the two objects, so hot water will lose heat faster than cold water. Put simply, if you have water at 90C and water at 10C, and the freezer is at -10C, the hot water will lose heat five times faster than the cold water; however, the cold water will still win the race. As the hot water cools its rate of heat transfer will decrease, so it will never catch up to the cold water.

This ice crystal effect happens because the hot water is so close to being steam, that the act of throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets. The small water droplets have a much larger surface area, allowing for a great deal of evaporation, which removes heat quickly. Finally, the cooled droplets are so small, that they can be easily frozen by the winter air.