Eating Snow: Is It Safe or Is It Risky to Eat Snow?

As a kid, I remember skiing up in the mountains. I loved wearing the puffy snow pants and boots. The wind in my face as I raced down a slope. The most magical part of it all was when the snow would begin to fall. I loved to collect the fresh snow and eat it. Basically, I made my own snow cones. Now days, I prefer to watch the snow fall from a window, while I’m curled up on the couch with Netflix. However, most places in the United States see snow fall beginning in November. This means that most people have eaten snow. My parents told me that eating snow wasn’t healthy because the snow was dirty. I’m here to set the record straight. We’re going to look at how safe it is to eat snow.

Snow That's Falling

Waking up to the snow falling is one of the best parts of winter. People say that the freshest type of snow is the type that’s falling. There’s some truth to that. Falling snow is going to be the cleanest type of snow. However, it’s possible for dirt and dust to contaminate even the freshest of snow. For example, dust particles are necessary to freeze snow. The dust particles are called the seeds of snow. Therefore, every snow flake you catch has dust particles within it. Also, if the air around the snow is polluted, then the snow flake will catch it. The gases can easily creep into the snow and make it “dirty”. Since the earth is filled with pollutants and greenhouse gases, it’s likely the air around you is contaminated.

eating snow, blowing snow, girl in snow

Freshly Fallen Snow

My parents told me that I should only eat snow that’s freshly fallen. Typically, freshly fallen snow is safer to eat because it’s less likely to be “dirty”. It’s still possible that the fresh snow you eat is dirty. If you eat the snow shortly after it’s fallen, then it’s probably cleaner. However, new snow stacks on top of old snow. Typically, old snow has dirt and dust on it. Therefore, the old snow could transfer the dirt and germs to the new snow. Thus, the new snow isn’t safe to eat. Also, snow is typically distilled water. It’s dangerous for you to drink too much distilled water. Therefore, eating too much snow can be unhealthy.

Eating Snow That’s Sat Around For a While

It’s a no brainer that eating snow that’s been sitting on the ground for a few days is unsafe. There’s probably salt, dirt, and trash on it. So, you shouldn’t eat snow that fell more than a day ago. If there’s footprints by the snow, then you should probably avoid it. Footprints mean that people have walked there and brought with them a variety of germs. From dirt to dog poop. Also, if you insist on eating snow, then stay away from the snow right by a road or sidewalk. Typically, this snow is residual from clearing the roads and sidewalks. The snow either touched a shovel or truck. The germs on those, alone, would make the snow unsafe to eat.


In conclusion, snow could be safe to eat. However, there are a lot of factors that make snow dirty. If you insist on eating snow, then your safest bet would be on a high mountain. It’s less likely that the snow’s contaminated that high up. Also, less people trek around in those parts. Therefore, the snow is less likely to be exposed to people. Granted, you probably won’t get sick from eating dirty snow. However, it’s always nice to know if what you or your children are eating could be unsafe.    

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Bailey Longhurst

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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