How to Build the Best Snowman

You’ve waited all year for this moment when snow would start blanketing the trees, the grass, and the street. The snow has stuck, which is really exciting, and it’s accumulating too, which thrills you even more. In the morning, you want to make an incredible snowman. How do you do it?

You can build the best snowman in the following ways:

  • Only use wet snow for your snowman
  • Mix the snow with sawdust to make Pykrete
  • Follow the proper snowman-building ratio
  • Give him cool accessories
  • Insulate your snowman so he lasts longer
  • Build him on a straight, level foundation 

This collection of tips will ensure your snowman is absolutely awesome from a structural and aesthetic perspective. Keep reading for more information, but do expect that a lot of your neighbors will be jealous of your cool snow-pal!

6 Must-Know Tips to Build the Best Snowman

Use Wet Snow for Your Snowman

If you’ve read other posts on our blog such as this one, then you should know by now that there are many different types of snow. Snowflakes can develop into all sorts of formations, sometimes the classic snowflake shape we all know and love and other times into long cylinders or hail-like balls. It’s really fascinating stuff that should foster a healthy appreciation for nature.

Depending on the type of snow you end up with, your snowman-building ventures will either be successful or futile. Snow needs a certain amount of moisture or water in it if you want to pack the snow together to build a quality snowman. The water is a binder or glue that keeps your snow in one piece.

Dry snow, which is often quite fine and powdery, has no water. This is the worst type of snow if you love building snowmen, as you’ll get absolutely nowhere with it. Moist snow is better, but given that it has 3 percent water, if that, it’s not conducive for much more than making snow angels.

Wet snow is what you want, which has moisture between 3 and 8 percent. Anything over 8 percent is classified as very wet snow. This is okay, but it might be too slushy to really work with. 

If the temperatures are around 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re more likely to get wet snow. Knowing that, you can track the forecast more closely and plan a day to get out there and build your snowman! 

Make a Pykrete Base

We introduced you to Pykrete in our post about how to make a snowman last longer. If you missed that post, it’s definitely worth a read, but don’t worry, as we’ll recap Pykrete for you here too.

Pykrete is considered a frozen ice alloy that consists primarily of ice, up to 86 percent. The other 14 percent is wood pulp or sawdust. Although it’s in lesser quantities, the sawdust is the most important part of Pykrete. Without it, the thermal conductivity of the mixture cannot lower to such a point that the snow melts slowly. 

Besides its reduced melting speed, Pykrete is also quite tough and strong, especially over ordinary ice. As we discussed in the above-linked post, Pykrete can have a feel akin to concrete, which is where half its name came from. The first half of the name is based on its founder, Geoffrey Pyke, who created the stuff in 1942.

Even though it’s less than malleable, Pykrete holds whatever shape you manage to work it into, including round balls for a snowman’s base, abdomen, or head. If temperatures never dip below –15 degrees, then the Pykrete will not sag or creep. Temperatures close to freezing or below freezing do not affect the ingredients. 

You do have to freeze Pykrete between uses and anticipate that it will expand when you do stash it in the freezer. If you add some seawater, the Pykrete goes back to a usable state. 

Follow a Ratio for Building Your Snowman

Let’s rewind to what we said a few paragraphs above. A snowman consists of a head, abdomen, and base. You know the base should be bigger than the head and the abdomen smaller than the base, but just how much bigger or smaller?

You have to follow the rules of proportionality to make the best snowman ever. Yes, this is a physics concept, so it’s kind of a snooze-fest, but pay attention. It’ll be worth it. According to the properties of proportionality, when you increase the size of one part, the other parts increase in turn. The same is true if you decrease one part.

Your snowman is three parts in all, as we said. If you make the base a bit bigger than usual, proportionality says the abdomen and head must be bigger as well to accommodate. 

To get your sizing just right, remember this much easier ratio: 1 to 2 to 3. The head should be 1 foot in diameter, the midsection 2 feet, and the base 3 feet.  

Don’t Forget the Epic Accessories

We said we’d talk about making the best snowman in terms of aesthetics too, because hey, what your snowman looks like matters. Anyone can roll up a few balls of snow, but it takes someone truly experienced in the art of making snowmen (like you) to create the best snow-fellow ever. 

This is your chance to flex your creative muscle, decorating your snowman however you like. We wrote a post with a comprehensive snowman accessories list that you can check out if you need ideas. 

If you’re trying to make your snowman unique by thinking outside of the box, allow us to help. 

Instead of the standard (and kind of tired) big black hat, give your snowman a cool beanie. Sure, you could use coal eyes…or you could buy a set of googly eyes so your snowman has a fun expression. Take it one step further by putting a pair of skiing goggles on your snowman, because why not?  

For his nose, forget about the carrot. You don’t want raccoons and squirrels all over your yard anyway, right? A big button nose or even a plastic nose that looks like a bear’s or a pig’s is much more fun. 

Think about what you can do for your snowman’s mouth so he’s even more emotive. You could go with the classic stoic smile or even make your snowman look shocked, angry, or sad. It’s your snowman, so whatever you want is what goes.

Provide Insulation for Your Snowman

Dress up your snow-dude too. Sure, that scarf or winter coat finishes his look, but it’s effective for another reason as well. When you insulate your snowman, you prevent fluctuating thermal changes from affecting him, causing him to melt. It may seem counter-intuitive to make your snowman warmer so he stays colder longer, but it works.

If you can’t spare any winter accessories, you could always follow in the footsteps of yore and create an ice cellar dedicated to your snowman. Yes, this is a literal cellar we’re talking about here. By insulating the cellar with straw or sawdust, you establish the ideal environment for your snowman to stick around for weeks, even months.

Ice cellars or icehouses didn’t originally exist for snowmen, of course. Instead, before the days when we had fridges and freezers, people who wanted to keep ice all winter would store it in the ice cellar. The ice would remain frigid through the winter, into the spring and even the summer so people had cool ice during the hottest times of the year. 

Do keep in mind that by tucking away your snowman in an ice cellar, no one will see him. You’re probably better off giving him a coat.  

Provide Your Snowman with the Right Foundation 

Our last tip is one for keeping your snowman structurally sound. You have to choose a place to make him that’s as awesome as he is. The ideal spot should be level, so no grass, as grass can be firm on a cold day then become slick and muddy if the temperatures start to crawl. Definitely, definitely don’t build your snowman near any hill, even a small one. As he melts, your snow-dude could lean into the hill and fall apart.

Watch where the sun is coming from and make your snowman away from it. Be aware that the angle of the sun can change as winter progresses. If your snowman is insulated for the long haul, make sure now in January that he won’t melt in February when the sun angle changes.

Don’t start building right on a concrete walkway or asphalt driveway. Your snowman needs a foundation of at least 2 inches surrounding him all the way around. This gives him a bit of extra snow that could start melting before he does. The foundation also reinforces his solidity. 

Visit Our Winter/Snow Page for More Great Content!

Final Thoughts 

If you want to build the best snowman your neighborhood has ever seen, it’s possible with these tips. Now you know how to insulate your snowman, make him last longer, and give him a great look. This is almost like having a cheat sheet to the coolest snowman ever. Have fun out there!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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