About.com‘s Urban Legends page debunks the burning snow videos that have been making the rounds of the usual sites of late:
Several videos have cropped up on YouTube documenting a “weird phenomenon” variously described as “burning snow,” “fake snow,” “chemical snow,” and “snow that won’t melt.” The videos show people holding cigarette lighters and blowtorches up to a handful of snow and remarking on how the latter seemingly blackens and “burns like plastic” instead of melting, all the while giving off a “chemical odor.”
As is the fashion these days, some folks are resorting to conspiracy theories in lieu of science to explain the phenomenon, the result being one big Internet freak-out over supposed government-backed weather manipulation (“geo-engineering”), chemtrail fallout, nanobot invasions, and HAARP attacks (I even found one article using the term “false flag”).
On the other hand, there’s plain old, ordinary physics. If you take a blowtorch to snow (which is more air than water in the first place), some of the frozen H2O is simply going to evaporate. Ditto if you use a lighter, albeit on a smaller scale. What doesn’t immediately evaporate has to melt, but may not appear to be melting initially because, explains Metabunk.org founder Mick West…
[continues at About.com]