As you might expect, the answer to the question “How much snow do you need to build a snowman?” is – well that depends on how big you want your snowman to be. However, that’s not especially helpful. Therefore, in an effort to provide the world with useful snowman building advice, we’ll take a bash at giving a more specific, helpful information.
How much snow do you need to build a snowman? To build a snowman that is approximately six feet tall and constructed from three spheres of decreasing sizes, you will need roughly 19 cubic feet of snow.
However, there’s a lot more to building a snowman that doesn’t fall down or melt immediately.
Snowman Building Weather
First, you need to wait for the perfect snowman building weather. Or to be more exact the weather when it snows has to be just right AND the weather has to be spot on while you are building.
If it snows when the air temperature is around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the snow should have just the right consistency for snowman building.
The Ideal Snow For Building A Snowman
You see, to some degree, it’s not how much snow you have that is important in building a snowman, but the type of snow you use.
There is a surprising range of snow types and not all of them are good for snowman building.
Scientists break snow down into five categories. Which category the snow falls into depends on the amount of “free water” in relation to the ice crystals.
- Dry snow has 0% water
- Moist snow is less than 3% water
- Wet snow is between 3% and 8% water
- Very wet snow is between 8% and 15% water
- Slush is more than 15% water
The water in which the ice crystals are suspended, acts as a glue, holding them together. If you try to form a snowball and it falls apart in your hand the snow is too dry because there is not enough water to hold the crystals together.
On the other hand, if the snow is too wet, it won’t hold its shape, causing your snowman to gradually morph into a snow blob.
The Best Snow For Snowman Building
The best snow for building a snowman is wet snow. Not so dry that it doesn’t hold together well, and not so wet it doesn’t hold its shape.
To test your snowman-building material, take a large handful of snow, and squeeze it together to form a ball. Now throw it at someone.
If the snowball falls apart as it flys through the air, leaving a dusty white trail behind it, the snow is too dry. On the other hand, if the snowball hits your target and doesn’t break up, it’s likely too wet.
But, if your snowball hits your target and breaks apart, congratulations, you have the perfect snowman building snow.
If you want a hand building your snowman, don’t throw your snowball at the person from whom you want help.
Back To The Weather
Assuming you have snow that fell when the air temperature was around 32 degrees, and there haven’t been any wild swings from that temperature, you are all good.
However, if it has warmed up you may find the snow has begun to melt slightly and the water content has increased, rendering it unsuitable for snowman building.
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The Best Way To Build A Snowman
There are a few different ways to build a snowman. Some people choose to push the snow into a huge pile and then form it into a snowman shape.
Others roll up a big old ball of snow and then pat snow around the ball to make the snowman’s body. Then there’s the “roll a cylinder and stand it up” school of thought.
None of which are the right way to build a snowman!
The best way to build a snowman is the three-sphere method.
The Three Sphere Snowman Method
You can build a tall, relatively stable with the least amount of snow if you build it using a stack of three giant snowballs.
Your ratios should be 3:2:1 with the bottom ball being three feet in diameter. This will provide you with a wide, stable base for your snowman.
To make your snowman base, start off with a snowball. Then place your snowball on the ground and begin to roll. Roll your snow in different directions to maintain your ball shape and when you have the right size, settle the ball into the spot your snowman will live.
Next, create another ball. This second sphere should be about two feet across. When you have made giant snowball number two, place it on top of your first creation. Once you have this second ball in place, pack some additional snow around the spot where the two balls touch.
Finally, your third ball should be one foot across. This ball sits at the top and becomes your snowman’s head.
Control The Size Of Your Spheres
If your spheres are too big it becomes difficult for the snow crystals to stick together. This instability, in combination with the weight of the snow, can result in an abominable snow pile rather than a fabulous snowman.
It is also a good idea to make a flat area on the top and the bottom of your spheres. These flat surfaces make your snowman more stable than it would be if you stacked completely round snowballs.
Now Decorate the Snowman
You can stick to the traditional hat and scarf, a carrot for a nose and a couple of sticks for arms, but where’s the fun it that?
- Eyes: Painted stones are good for eyes, and you can add a pair of glasses for a quirky touch.
- Wooly hat alternatives: You don’t need to restrict yourself to a boring old bobble hat. How about a baseball cap for a modern twist, or a sunhat for an ironic twist.
- Hair: You could skip the hat entirely and give your snowman a head of hair. Suitable hair stuffs include; yarn, pipe cleaners braided rainbow loom bracelets or uncooked pasta noodles.
- Other decorations: Consider giving your snowman some real personality by adding accessories that reflect your interests. Ice hockey gear, or other sporting equipment, a wooden spoon, and a chef’s hat, a paintbrush and pallet, the opportunities are endless.
More Snowman Building Tips
There are a few more things you should know before you begin your epic snowman build.
Choose Your Surface Carefully
If you are building a snowman after a lighter sprinkling of snow, the surface you chose to build on is important.
- Wherever possible build your snowman on a flat grassy surface.
- Dark surfaces absorb heat, even in the snow, so if you build a snowman on your asphalt driveway it will melt more quickly.
Keep Your Snowman Out Of The Wind
The wind doesn’t just erode your snowman’s body. If the wind is strong enough it can even push your snowman over.
To avoid the early demise of your new cool buddy, build at the base of a hill or in the protective shade of your home.
However, if you are building in a public space and you are creating your snowman at the base of a hill, be sure to stay on the lookout for other hill users. You don’t want to be crashed into by a sledder.
Minimize Your Snowman’s Sun Exposure
If possible build your snowman in a shady spot or a place with minimal sun exposure. This will help your snowman last. To ensure your snowman will keep its happy smiley features for longer, create its face on the side of the snowman which will be facing away from the sun.
Stay Safe Out There
Last, but by no means least, when you are building a snowman, be sure to stay safe. Wrap up warm and wear gloves that do not absorb the moisture from the snow. If you do get your clothes wet, go inside and change before you get too chilled and take a break if you begin to feel uncomfortably cold. Oh, and don’t burrow into any snowbanks, or make any snow caves to hide inside either.
Want The Best Snowman on The Block?
You’ve just spent hours crafting the perfect snowman. Now the time has to come to give him or her some personality through decorations. Sure, you could rummage around your home and see what’s there or even buy a snowman decorating kit, but you want to go against the grain. What cool snowman accessories can you get your hands on?
If you want to really geek out on making your perfect snowman then this is the tool for you! Using the Fibonacci sequence, Anna Szczepanek, Ph.D. created the Snowman Calculator help tell you how long your snowman will last according to the amount of snowfall, size of the snowman balls, and whether. Check it out, it’s awesome!