No matter what your age, building a snowman/woman can be really fun. If you are a kid, you might have to ask for help from your parents. But if you are an adult, it can be a fun outdoor activity by yourself or even with friends!

Note: The article will sometimes refer to a snowman, snow woman or snow person. Assume that we are talking about the same entity in this article.

Here is how to make a snowman/woman:

The Type of Snow is Important

If you are lucky enough to live in a place that snows a lot, then you will the main differences between snow types (the more you know).

Snow Type 1: powder, dry snow

Dry snow can certainly be used, but it is worth wetting it with a garden hose to make it stickier. This is because powdery snow doesn’t stick together very well, so you will have to use a lot more of it.

Snow Type 2: wet, heavy, slushy snow

This kind of snow is preferable for building a snowball with, but again the help of water can be used to make it stickier.

Usually if there’s been recent rain or melted ice/snow on the ground then the best kind of snow will happen. A nice mixture between dry and wet.

You can think of the free water as the ‘glue.’ You need enough to stick the crystals together, but not too much. Otherwise it won’t form a solid snowman,” says Jordy Hendrikx a snow scientist at Montana State University, told Smithsonian.

What most people don’t realize is, the surrounding air temperature determines how much moisture snow particles have. It also depends on the crystal structure.

Snow that is wet and moist comes in at about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Because more water molecules freeze into crystals at lower temperatures, snow is far drier.

Snow crystal shapes change significantly with temperature. Kenneth Libbrecht/Based on experiments by U. Nakaya

Freshly deposited wet or moist snow crystals are usually shaped like classic branching snowflakes, known as dendrites, which offer a large surface area for the watery glue to bind with.

With colder weather conditions, flat plate forms with less surface area are produced, making it all the more difficult to form dry powder into snowballs and snowmen/woman.

A snow to water ratio of 5:1 generally yields a better blend of snow according to Dan Snowman, a physicist at Rhode Island College in Providence. 

Find a Great Location

The best place to build a snow person is in an area that is both flat and shady. This is because flat surfaces allow you to build a snowman/woman figure that is not lopsided.

Shady areas provide a place for your new creation to sit, as opposed to the snow melting off of the full sun.

If you don’t have access to either of these places, then it’s okay to use full-sun areas; just make sure you’re quick!

Building the snow person behind a tree gives you the best of both worlds.

Construction Time

You will need three things to create your snow man/woman:

1. Snow – Type 1 or 2 (see above)

2. Water (in spray bottle)

3. Sticks (to help form arms and nose)

It is also nice to have some rocks on hand for the eyes, although these are not necessary.

Snowman/woman Construction 101

Once you’ve found a suitable location to build your snow person, take an old newspaper or trash bag and lay it flat on the ground (this is for easy clean up).

Pile about 4-5 inches of snow onto the newspaper; this should be more than enough to form the base. Pack it down good with your feet so that you can begin building up your snow pile into a snow person shape.

The Snowman/Woman Body

Choose where you would like the head of your snow person to be and start building it with packed snow. Make sure you use enough so that you have a lot of texture in the torso of your snow person.

This part is all about patience. Packing down the column of snow every few minutes will help to ensure that its structure remains strong throughout construction; do not worry if at first there are cracks in between the bundle of ice – it will only make your work better! You want the sides to be fairly straight and upright so take your time forming this part.

Once you have made a 2-3 foot tall column, start to pack the sides inwards until they touch at the top. From here, you can put a smaller ball on top of it for a head or a bigger one…whatever makes you happy!

Ensure the structure is solid

In essence you are looking for a 3,2,1 ratio for size of snowballs. Where the base of the snow person is the largest section, the middle (body part) is the medium sized section and the smaller snowball (for the head) is the smallest snowball.

Rolling is Super Important

It is never easy to build a snowball since it needs to be rolled and the technique used to roll is different for different people.

Try be packing the snowball as tightly packed as possible with your hands and then lay it on the ground and start to roll it. As you roll it on the snow surface it will start to increase in size as you continue to roll.

After you’ve successfully formed your first snowball, place additional snow around its base to brace the area.

Flatten each ball

Before adding the next snowball on top, flatten the top of each one first, says Jim Sysko, a professional snowman builder who was involved with building the world’s biggest snowman. Your snowman will be more solid if you do this.

Making the arms

You can choose to keep them long or short. If you are using sticks then simply prop them up on top of your head using more packed snow, making sure they are wide enough apart for both arms later on.

Decorate like a pro

Eyes and nose

To make eyes, simply take two rocks and place them where you want the eyes to be on your new friend! Typically, they have used black coal in the past but you can substitute with rocks,  buttons, plastic lids, whole black olives or dried prunes.

For a nose, just take a stick and poke it into your new creation’s face. This is easy because the surrounding snow will hold on tight. Or you can use a carrot for the nose (the traditional way) if you have one.

Add some amusing items to your snowman’s face, such as orange slices for the brows and leaves for the mustache. You can also use Mr. Potato Head type accessories on the face, albeit they may appear a little tiny depending on how huge your snowman is.

Hat and scarf

Lastly, all you need is an old hat and scarf to finish it off. Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture for future memories!

References:

Mian Image – ELG21

picture of a snowman with beige scarf and black hat.
MakingBuilding a Snowman
About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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