How to Keep a Snowball from Melting

After reading our guide on how to roll the perfect snowball, you and the kids were outside for hours in the snow practicing and finessing your skills. Now you have too many snowballs. How can you prevent them from melting before you get to use them?

Here’s how to keep a snowball from melting:

  • Store them in covered plastic zippy bags in your freezer
  • Make snowballs only with pure snow, no salt 
  • Insulate with foam or rubber
  • Turn off your freezer’s auto-defrost
  • Build pykrete snowballs
  • Add ammonium chloride salt

With the above suggestions, you could theoretically hold onto your snowballs until the summertime, then pull them out and have a snowball fight in your backyard amidst the humidity. Keep reading for more tips and tricks for preserving snowballs!

6 Tips for Preventing a Snowball from Melting

Store Them in a Covered Plastic Zippy Bag in Your Freezer

You probably have some zippy bags in your pantry, right? Grab one, put your snowball in, and zip it well to create a seal that’s nearly airtight.

Does your freezer illuminate every time you slide open its door? Light gives off heat, and the closer the snowball is to the freezer bulb, the faster it will melt. 

Since plastic zippy bags are translucent, we recommend covering the snowball with something opaque too. Even a dish towel works, but make sure it’s a towel you don’t mind giving up. It could be sitting in your freezer for the next six months or longer.

Are you fresh out of plastic zippy bags? That’s okay. You can also store your snowball(s) in a plastic container such as a bowl or Tupperware. If your Tupperware isn’t see-through and it has a lid, that’s perfect. When storing your snowball in a bowl, we’d again suggest that you put a tea towel or another form of cover over top.

Make sure that your snowball isn’t jammed against the back of the freezer. Many freezers have heating elements back there. Just like being exposed to light can melt your snowball(s), so too can the snowball’s proximity to the heating element!  

Make Snowballs Only with Pure Snow, No Salt

The type of snow you use to roll your snowballs is also important. You might recall from our article on rolling the perfect snowball that you should reach your hands several inches deep into the snow when making your snowball.

The reason for this is to get more firmly packed snow, but that’s not the only advantage. You can also ensure that your snow is just as nature intended, which means it won’t have dirt or salt in it. The same cannot be said for surface snow.

Salt is one of snow’s worst enemies. As this KGW 8 article proves, with a lot of time and patience, you can melt snow with regular table salt instead of commercial-grade ice melt salt (although that works too).

This tells us that if the snow you use to roll your snowballs is salty and dirty, it’s only a matter of time before it begins melting. 

Insulate with Foam or Rubber

Insulation traps in heat, so you’re a little confused why we’re recommending it for your snowball. Won’t a warm, insulated snowball melt in a jiffy? It’s just the opposite!

When you protect your snowball with insulation, you reduce the rate of thermal exchanges the snowball is exposed to. This in turn can preserve your snowball’s perfectly round, fluffy shape for even longer.

Okay, so how do you insulate a snowball? That’s the fun part, you have so many ways of doing this. You can put the snowball in a Styrofoam container like those you get from your favorite takeout restaurant. Then stash it in another larger container.

Wrapping your snowball in aluminum foil can work, as that’s an insulating layer too. Just don’t expect your snowball to come out perfectly round when you’re done with it. The foil will change its shape. 

If you and the kids are working on saving some snowballs together, get them involved. Ask them what they think is the best insulation method for the snowballs. This makes preserving snowballs a good educational opportunity that the kids might enjoy! 

Turn Off Your Freezer’s Auto-Defrost

Many refrigerators and just as many freezers include an auto-defrost feature. Also known as self-defrosting, this feature defrosts your freezer’s evaporator coils, which are the cooling element. 

Here’s how it works in more detail. First, the evaporator coils heat up, as this allows any frost that has formed on the coils to melt right off. Then the water that leaks from the coils travels via a duct.

Depending on how often the compressor is on, defrosting can occur every six, eight, 10, 12, or 24 hours. The heater will run for 15 to 30 minutes at a clip.

Since auto-defrost can make your freezer warmer, it’s not advisable when you’re storing snowballs in there. Snow must be continually exposed to temperatures of at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit to retain its shape. 

Of course, turning off the auto-defrost feature in your freezer comes with its own set of risks. Yes, your snowball will be fine, but the freezer itself might not be. 

Depending on where the frost builds up, it could accumulate around components and pipes. This can cause parts to freeze over and become nonfunctional, or–in the case of the pipes–even burst.

If your freezer is older and it’s already on its way out, then sure, turn off auto-defrost. For a brand-new freezer though, we’d caution you to reconsider.  

Build Pykrete Snowballs

If you read our post on keeping a snowman from melting, then surely, you’ve heard of pykrete. Perhaps you missed that post, so allow us to provide a brief recap for you now.

Pykrete is a type of frozen alloy that combines ice with paper, sawdust, or another wood pulp. The snow or ice is about 86 percent of the pykrete while the sawdust is roughly 14 percent.

By mixing those two ingredients together, magic happens. Pykrete’s thermal conductivity is lower than snow would be on its own, which allows the snow to melt much more gradually. The stuff is also a lot tougher and stronger than regular ice. 

That’s why pykrete has that name: it’s an homage to pykrete’s founder Geoffrey Pyke, but it’s also named after concrete. 

This is undoubtedly the biggest issue with pykrete; molding and shaping it is very difficult. It’s like trying to make a snowball out of concrete. With enough elbow grease, you’ll get there eventually, but it takes a lot more straining than it should.

By freezing pykrete after molding it, it will hold its shape. If your pykrete snowball begins to get a little saggy and sad, then reduce the temperature further to five degrees and it will reshape. 

Add Ammonium Chloride Salt 

Speaking of our article on preserving a snowman, we recommended a tip that’s also applicable to keeping your snowballs from melting. Use ammonium chloride salt! 

This might seem like a strange suggestion, especially since we told you earlier that salt and snow don’t mix. That’s usually true, but ammonium chloride salt is not your ordinary salt. This salt can bring down the melting point of snow.

If you can’t find any ammonium chloride salt at your local grocery store or home improvement store, you can use calcium salt or calcium chloride hexahydrate as alternatives. The latter can reduce snow’s melting point to as much as -50 degrees if the quantities are 2.5 times more than snow or ice.  

Visit Our Winter/Snow Page for More Great Content!

How to Make a Plaster Snowball to Enjoy Anytime

Sometimes you want to keep a snowball not only to hang onto the last vestiges of winter but for sentimental reasons. For example, maybe you gave birth to your first child during a snowstorm and you want some snow as a memento.

In such a case, rather than try to save that snow indefinitely, you’re better off making a replica of the snowball. This will last forever, the same of which cannot always be said for the real thing. 

You can create a plaster mold of the exact snowball. Otherwise, you might make a replica from scratch using plaster, Mod Podge, and Styrofoam. Here are the steps courtesy of lifestyle blog Country Design Style.

Step 1

Combine at least two tablespoons of Mod Podge with the same amount of water. Stir until the ingredients are incorporated but expect the mixture to be watery at this point. That’s okay.

Step 2

Take 1/8th a cup of plaster at a time and blend it with the Mod Podge and water. Keep doing this until the plaster quantities are about a cup. The consistency of the ingredients should have firmed up, becoming like a pudding. 

Overworking or adding too much plaster can cause the mixture to harden more than you want. You’d have to pour in more water to reset the plaster’s consistency.

Step 3

Take a Styrofoam ball and coat it thoroughly in the plaster, water, and Mod Podge mixture. Hang the snowball over some wax paper so any excess wet plaster can drip off. 

Step 4

If you’re not pleased with how your snowballs look, then paint them so they have a more realistic color. Glitter makes for a nice finishing touch too. 

Final Thoughts

Preventing snowballs from melting is doable. In the right environment (like a freezer kept at 32 degrees or lower), a snowball can last almost forever. Now, no matter when you start missing the coldness and tranquility of wintertime, you can enjoy a little slice of the season!

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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