It is, theoretically, a really cool gimmick. If you were in the Midwest when temperatures plunged to about 30 degrees below zero this week, it was probably cold enough to throw boiling water into the air and watch it freeze in midair.
"All you have to do is bundle up, get some boiling water, and throw it out in the subzero temperatures and see what happens," one broadcaster in North Dakota said.
"Threw a pot of boiling water in the air. Kids thought it was awesome," Jason DeRusha, a WCCO-TV anchor in Minneapolis, tweeted to his followers on Sunday. "Do it, people."
And boy, did people do it.
Over Monday and Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times counted at least 50 people on social media who reported burning themselves or their friends after trying to turn boiling water into snow. There were also several reports of people going to the hospital to receive treatment for burns.
"I'm working in the ER today &this woman just got 2nd degree burns from trying to freeze boiling water into the air!" one user tweeted.
Here are a few other cases culled from Twitter:
- "Blayne and I just did the boiling water thing and I accidentally threw all the BOILING water against the wind and burnt myself."
- "So I did the thing where you make snow and not all the boiling water froze and now my head is burned."
- "I did that boiling water thing except I threw it weird so it came back and burnt my hand."
- "So I did that boiling water snow thing but the wind whipped it back at me and my hands are STILL burning lol I can't hold anything."
- "so my mom threw boiling water outside and she threw it on herself and burnt herself."
- "Tried throwing boiling water in the air. Burnt my hand."
How did this happen? Looks like some would-be scientists were throwing the boiling water into the wind. There was a YouTube video (warning: strong language) of a couple in Chicago burning themselves, as well as a video on Instagram.
And then there were the injuries.
Kyle burned his arm trying to do the boiling water trick hahahah pic.twitter.com/FXjEsLOQCu— Nick Schweppe (@Schweeeeeet) January 6, 2014
So I threw boiling water in the air, the wind was blowing and it landed on my head and back. I'm now in route to the ER w/ 3rd degree burns— Cam Ellis¿¿ (@Cammy_Ellis) January 6, 2014
The victims weren't just adults: St. Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri reported Tuesday afternoon that two kids received treatment for burning themselves trying the trick.
DeRusha, the Minneapolis TV anchor who urged his Twitter followers to try it, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday evening that he couldn't comment without proper permission from his supervisors due to company policies on speaking with the media.
But on Twitter he said to a follower after The Times and social-media sharing site BuzzFeed pointing out his exhortation, he said, "Sorry that anyone got hurt! I look forward to the post on all the Minnesotans who did this safely!" On Tuesday morning, he added, "None of those people are from MN or followers of mine."
Maybe you really shouldn't try this at home.