Is It Safe to Eat Ice Cream Made from Snow?

If you've never heard of snow ice cream, here's the gist: Take some snow, mix in milk and sugar (or sometimes sweetened condensed milk), add a drop of vanilla extract, and devour before it melts. Apparently it's an old tradition, a practice that's been around for hundreds of years—maybe even millennia!



Sounds enticing—and with a few weeks of winter left, there's still time to start shoveling the snow from your front stoop into the kitchen. There's just one question we had to ask, though: Is eating snow—you know, the stuff that falls through the polluted atmosphere—actually safe?

Maybe not. A study published in Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts found that, as it falls, snow soaks up particles found in gasoline exhaust, including toluene, benzene, and xylenes—all toxic chemicals that have been linked with major health problems, per the World Health Organization.

However, other atmospheric scientists told NPR that, overall, the levels of pollutants that end up in snow are extremely low, and generally not worth worrying about.

If you're really set on snow ice cream, safeguard yourself by timing your snow collection just right. Snow acts kind of like a scrub brush in the atmosphere, picking up pollutants and particles as it drops down to earth. That means the longer the snow falls, the fewer pollutants will be left in the air, and the cleaner the snow will be, explains John Pomeroy, a climate researcher at the University of Saskatchewan. So, eating snow that falls a few hours into a snowstorm is your best bet.

The only definite no-no? Eating snow that's been plowed, which has likely been mixed with large amounts of sand, salt, and de-icing chemicals. Certainly not the sprinkles you were hoping for. 

Ultimately, the decision to eat snow ice cream is up to you. If you live in a particularly polluted area, it may be best to skip.


Source: Eat Clean

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