If water is transparent why is snow white?

539 views

If water is transparent why is snow white?

In: Chemistry

Snow is a whole bunch of individual ice crystals arranged together. When a light photon enters a layer of snow, it goes through an ice crystal on the top, which changes its direction slightly and sends it on to a new ice crystal, which does the same thing. Basically, all the crystals bounce the light all around so that it comes right back out of the snow pile. It does the same thing to all the different light frequencies, so all colors of light are bounced back out. The “color” of all the frequencies in the visible spectrum combined in equal measure is white, so this is the color we see in snow, while it’s not the color we see in the individual ice crystals that form snow.

Ice crystals form and when light enters it bounces around until it finally comes out as ALL the colors of the visible light spectrum, which appear white to the human eye. In water, the light is only refracted instead of being reflected and passes through. So, the structure of the ice and the way light interacts with it is why it appears white to us.

I’m no expert but it’s the same case for polar bear hair as well, which is actually transparent.

If I got any of this right someone please tell me.

Snow White is not transparent, otherwise the dwarves would never have been able to see her.

Snow is made of individual ice crystals. These ice crystals scatter (send light in random directions) or reflect (send light away). The reflected light is actually what makes the snow white. All of the light that hits the snow is reflected back (if snow was lets say green, then all the light that hits the snow would be absorbed except for the green which would be reflected). Snow can actually be blue, purple, or pink depending on the time of day and how the sunlight hits the snow.

Water itself is actually colorless. However, when its in vast amount it does appear to be a blue color. This is the same as the snow, when light hits the water it is both absorbed and scattered. However there are many external factors that influence the color of water, such as sediment. Water near glaciers have a lighter blue color due to sediments from the glacier. After a major rain event, many streams and rivers may look brown due to sediment runoff from erosion.