Fake snow

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A White House decoration volunteer throws fake snow onto a Christmas tree at the White House

Fake snow is any product which simulates the appearance and texture of snow, without being made from frozen crystalline water.

Santa Snow - an aerosol can of artificial snow

Fake snow has been made from many materials. In the early 1900s decorative snow was sometimes made from borax flakes and even ammonia.[1]

Before the dangers of asbestos were known, the substance was sold for Christmas tree decoration. It was also used to simulate snow in films, including The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane.[2][3]

Styrofoam beads and white flocking have been used to give the appearance of snow on artificial trees.[4] Fake snow has also been sold in spray cans which could apply the flocking to windows and indoor displays.[5][6]

Film and theatre[edit]

Fake snow at a filming location for the Doctor Who 2013 Christmas Special

When snow-like scenery is needed in live theatre, materials have included feathers, cotton, paper, breakfast cereal and potato flakes.[7] To reduce the cleanup problem, many theatres use "snow generators" which create soapy white bubbles which disappear after a short time.[8] A similar process was has been used in film studios and backlots; one well-known example is It's a Wonderful Life.[9]

For outdoor film scenes needing large amounts of fake snow, salt was an inexpensive choice, but damaging to soil and plant life.[10] Gypsum and bleached or painted cereal flakes have often been used;[11] a less noisy alternative is paper, which is shredded and spread by specially-built machines.[12]


  1. ^ Derek McCormack (1 October 2005). Christmas Days: From Fake Snow to Santalands, The Things That Make Christmas Christmas. House of Anansi Press Incorporated. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-88784-946-6.
  2. ^ Sally Coulthard (1 November 2018). The Little Book of Snow. Head of Zeus. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-78854-580-8.
  3. ^ "Was Fake Snow made from asbestos marketed as Christmas decor?". Snopes. Bethania Palma, 22 December 2017.
  4. ^ James Hewitt (September 2007). The Christmas Tree. Lulu.com. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-4303-0820-1.
  5. ^ "HAPPY HINCHMAS Mrs Hinch shares brilliant hack for hiding bauble string as she decorates her Christmas tree". The Sun, Lydia Hawken, 27th November 2018
  6. ^ " A look at Christmas tree tech from the 1940s through today". Digitrends, By Brinke Guthrie — November 26, 2016
  7. ^ Dominique Brégent-Heald (November 2015). Borderland Films: American Cinema, Mexico, and Canada During the Progressive Era. U of Nebraska Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-8032-7884-4.
  8. ^ Vicki Cobb (1 January 2006). On Stage. LernerClassroom. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8225-9043-9.
  9. ^ "6 things you probably didn't know about 'It's a Wonderful Life'". Mother Nature Network, Matt Hickman, December 14, 2011
  10. ^ Kristi McKim (2013). Cinema as Weather: Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change. Routledge. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-415-89412-8.
  11. ^ John Alton (5 February 2013). Painting With Light. Univ of California Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-520-27584-3.
  12. ^ Danielle S. Hammelef (2015). Explosive Scenes: Fireballs, Furious Storms, and More Live Special Effects. Capstone. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4914-2003-4.