When it comes to packing a good snowball, some wintry mixes are better than others. It basically comes down to the temperature, which determines if the snow is light and powdery or dense and heavy.
On cold days, the snow is typically light and fluffy. While this snow might be good for skiing, it's not so good for molding into icy orbs. Try making a snowball with this snow and you'll find that it just won't pack together and you're left with a handful of fluff.
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The reason has to do with why snow sticks together in the first place. Snow is basically ice crystals, and when you pack the crystals together, you need to apply enough pressure with your mitten-clad hands to get some of them to melt. When you remove pressure, the ice will re-freeze and glue the snow together in whatever shape you packed it in.
The problem with cold powdery snow is that, no matter how hard you try, you won't be able to apply enough pressure to melt some of the ice crystals.
On warmer days, however, you don't need to apply as much pressure to get these ice crystals to melt. Warm snow is typically a little wetter and heavier, and can be packed into a ball. (You don't want slush, though, because it will pack too hard, producing a weapon of sorts instead of a fun snowy ball.)
Once you've found snow of the right consistency, it's time to shape your snowball. Here are a few tips adapted from the DIY website artofmanliness.com:
- If you can do it without getting frostbite, use bare hands to pack your snowball; it gives you more dexterity for molding the glacial globe. If it's a little too cold for bare-handing it, use gloves instead of mittens.
- Next, fill both cupped hands with snow and start pressing them together while rotating your hands. Gradually increase the pressure you apply to the snow. If you start off with a bang (too much pressure), your snowball will fall apart.
- When you feel a little resistance from the snowball, it's time to stop squeezing.
- Smooth out the surface of your creation to form a sphere.
Voilà! You now have the perfect snowball.