Category: "Ice and snow creations"

The "Snow Candle"

November 6th, 2017

If you go about 50-km northwest of Sapporo, Japan, aiming to stay on the coast, you will land in the port city of Otaru. Like Sapporo and the rest of Hokkaido, this is snow and ice country. Here in Otaru, they have a "snow candle" festival every winter. The snow candles are just partly scooped out, upside down, packed lumps of snow with a lit candle inside. (Perhaps a better name would be "snow lantern".) They make them in quantity by packing a standard-sized plastic bucket with snow, scooping out part of the center and side, then turning them upside down and removing the bucket moulding. Then they put a standard, short candle inside and light it. When they are all lit, they appear like small glowing igloos along various walkways and attract large crowds at night.

Yasuko made a mini version recently, and brought it indoors. Instead of using a bucket and standard-sized candle, she used a coffee mug and snipped birthday-cake candle.

The "Snow Candle"

It lasted only about 15 minutes. But if you make it like they do in Otaru and keep it outside, it may last much of the evening or night.

- JN


February 1st, 2012

Hoar. It's just a white coating on things, so why does it make everything look more interesting?

I saw this hoar coating on a plastic trash-can lid:

The hoar frost on the lid had various whirls, just like I've seen on the plastic surfaces of car door handles and side-view mirrors. This hoar was a little different though in that the crystals were definitely sticking up and not laying flat on the surface. Nevertheless, the fact that they show a pattern at all, and are not just randomly oriented, means that there must have been a liquid film of water that first froze to the surface. The film froze, producing a pattern of crystal orientations on the surface, and these orientations were not revealed until the hoar frost grew. Hurray for hoar!

Here's another warning:

The hoar crystals are longer on the raised lettering, particularly near edges. This is not because such places are further from the ground, but because they have more radiative cooling (due to their more expansive view of the sky) and can stick out into regions with a greater density of water vapor molecules.

If you click on the images, you can see the crystals a little better. But I forgot my tripod on this particular morning (I took the shots after I got to the office), and so the images aren't as crisp as my other close-up shots.

- Jon