Fact Check: Burning Snow 'Smells Like Plastic' in Viral Video

From Jeffrey Epstein to egg shortages, the public conversation has had a glut of conspiracy theories to absorb recently as misinformation continues to permeate social media.

This week alone, new videos began being shared alleging the false claim that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky employed a body double who had, among other duties, met with President Joe Biden.

Back in the U.S., a viral video showing a snowball failing to melt under direct flame was attached to "QAnon" groups, among the most pervasive and damaging conspiracy theorists in the world.

Fact check: QAnon snow
A tweet claimed that a new video from "QAnon" showed the group was trying to convince people that snow was made of plastic from a weather modification system. Getty

The Claim

A tweet posted by Patriot Takes, on February 26, 2023, which has been viewed more than 444,000 times, claimed: "The QAnon folks are circulating a video claiming a snowball won't burn suggesting it's plastic from a secret weather modification system.

"Ice can turn directly into water vapor and/or the water could be drawn into the porous snowball. The lighter fuel left the dark spot."

A video beneath the tweet shows someone making a snowball and then trying to melt it. The bottom of the snowball turns black afterward, while someone else remarks that it "smells like plastic."

The Facts

As was clear from the tweet sent by Patriot Takes the reason the snow didn't melt is not that it's made from plastic.

Similar claims about "fake snow" have been made before. In 2021, a series of videos of residents burning snow following a storm in Texas led to claims that the weather had been "created by the government.

As stated by Reuters, the dark mark is caused by soot adhering to snowballs and while the snow does melt, because the snowball is porous, it absorbs the water instead.

The original video, posted by TikTok user @aholedad, on February 21, 2023, which has been viewed more than 2.3 million times, included the heading "Thanks Biden!"

However, a follow-up video by @aholedad (warning: contains explicit language) posted on February 27, 2023, stated that he knew the reasons why the snowball didn't melt and that the comments about Biden had been meant as a joke.

They said: "It has nothing to do with Biden, it was just a joke about all the other stupid f****** videos on g****** TikTok."

Although Patriot Takes mentions QAnon, the TikTok account appears to have no attachment to QAnon or Q-related content either.

The Ruling

Satire Fact Check ruling


Videos of this type, showing that snow doesn't melt when held under a lighter, have been published before. The black mark left on the snowball is caused by sooting from the lighter. Although snow does melt, the porous structure of a snowball absorbs the water instead.

However, according to its creator, the video was intended as a joke. While a tweet that shared the video mentions QAnon, it does not appear the video's creator is associated in any way with QAnon or posts Q-related content.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check Team

Satire: The claim was originally intended as satirical, but was misunderstood or removed from its proper context, and presented to its audience as literal.
Read more about our ratings.