Is It Safe to Eat Snow?
If you grew up in a cold climate and spent time outside playing in the winter as a kid, you probably ate some snow. While sitting at the bottom of a sledding hill, making a snowman or snow fort, or in the middle of a snowball fight with friends, at some point, you may have scooped up some (hopefully) white snow and licked it or bit into its cold, frosty nothingness. As an adult with access to the internet and social media, you've probably seen or tried recipes made with snow—from snow cones, snow pops, and do-it-yourself ice cream, to frozen margaritas and other slushy cocktails. But is eating snow really safe?
The answer is maybe. Snow forms high in the atmosphere as water droplets condense and create ice crystals around microscopic particles of dust or pollen. Already, that doesn’t sound too appetizing...Then, as they fall, snowflakes accumulate more and more particles and contaminants from the air. Unless you live in a remote area, that means the snow in your neighborhood likely contains traces of air pollution—including vehicle exhaust.
In suburban and rural places, it's probably okay to eat snow—as long as it looks clean and white (not pink, that's a sign of algae, and not yellow, because, well, you know), is not wind-blown (driven snow picks up dirt from the ground), and doesn't contain chemicals (sand and salt) from treated surfaces like roads and sidewalks.
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