No snow? Make your own!

Nothing adds to holiday merriment like snow! The white stuff that piles up outside isn’t toxic, but what about the white stuff we bring indoors? Is fake snow poisonous?

Spray snow is made up of fats, waxes, plastics and adhesives. The only toxic ingredients are the hydrocarbon propellents — typically isobutane and propane — that are used to get the snow out of the can and onto your window or tree. The propellants are simple asphyxiants that displace oxygen in the air, so breathing them in can make you feel lightheaded.

Angel hair was once made with spun glass fibers that could cut and itch, but nowadays it’s made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a widely used plastic that could be a choking hazard but is otherwise not toxic. If you have spun glass angel hair from back in the day or if you’ve found some online, you might want to wear gloves when you handle it. For ingestions or eye exposures to spun glass angel hair follow the appropriate decontamination procedures and seek medical evaluation for persistent discomfort.

Snow powders are made of sodium polyacrylate, the same superabsorbent material used in diapers and sanitary pads. Sodium polyacrylate absorbs hundreds of times its own weight in water and can be dried and re-used. Like other plastics it could be a choking hazard but isn’t toxic.

DIY fluffy snow

  • You can buy polyacrylate powder from Amazon or a craft store. It doesn’t matter if it’s branded as “instant snow” or not; it all looks the same when water is added. Of course, if you have a spare supply of unused diapers you can raid them for their powder.Snow on tree
  • Mix 3 cups baking soda with 1/2 cup hair conditioner
  • Almost anything (eg, ornaments, candles) can be painted with glue and rolled in Epsom salt. Pour Epsom salt into a jar or glass for a festive candle holder.
  • Dessicated coconut can be used as is or moistened with liquid starch.

DIY sticky snow for flocking

  • Paint tree needles, pine cones or other decorations with white paint and sprinkle the wet paint with white or clear glitter, German glass (glass glitter), or Epsom salt. Glue or spray adhesive may be used in place of paint for a more subtle effect.
  • Mix together 2 cups grated Ivory soap, 1/4 cup hot water, and EITHER 2/3 cup corn starch + 1/4 cup Elmers glue, OR 2/3 cups liquid starch, OR 2/3 cup Elmers glue. Stir until smooth and paint on.
  • Paint on light weight spackle.

Snow and frost for windows

  • Apply white cake icing with a butter or frosting knife. Works best for bottoms and corners of panes.
  • Dissolve 4 tablespoons Epsom salt in 1 cup beer or carbonated soda. Allow to sit for 30 min. Paint or dab onto glass.
  • Spray glass with water. Place baby powder in the palm of your hand and blow it onto the wet glass.

More Information

How to flock a Christmas tree

Snow recipes for kids

Snow covered branches and pine cones

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