With things heating up this summer, we wanted to just play in the snow! The stuff you just saw is called sodium polyacrylate. It is also known as waterlock, which shouldn’t be surprising considering what you just witnessed! Its ability to absorb an incredible amount of water makes it useful for certain purposes–like diapers and thickening agents–but it can also make for a super fun science project!.
We used about 30 grams of sodium polyacrylate, and poured about 1000 grams of water into it! Since all of the water was absorbed, the 30 grams of sodium polyacrylate became about 34 times heavier! The average adult in the US is about 180 lbs. For them, this would be the equivalent of going swimming and coming out at over 3 tons, which is about the size of a small adult Orca!
Even after absorbing all of that, the snowy substance felt damp, but still could have absorbed more! Sodium polyacrylate has been called a super absorber for the fact that it has been known to absorb up to 300 times its own mass!
An interesting chemistry note: adding salt to the water and snow mix changes the properties of sodium polyacrylate immensely. Check it out below as the salk breaks down the mixture, resulting in truly wintery pile of wet, sloppy slush.
Enjoy your summer while you can!