How do snow machines work?

Snow machine

Snow machines are used on both indoor and outdoor ski slopes around the world to provide additional snow when the real stuff is lacking. The material they create is actually snow, but the process by which it is made is a little different to the natural system.

Snow that forms as nature intended in clouds is basically frozen crystals of water, and the same is true of snow guns. However, these devices have to create a cold environment in which they can produce snow, simulating the conditions in clouds. Most snow cannons do this in a relatively simple process, combining cold water and compressed air to produce water droplets.

The guns are connected to a supply of water and high-pressure air, which are both pumped into the machine. The droplets then freeze into ice crystals inside the machine and, when fired out by a fan, fall as snow.

Most machines lack the ability to change their firing direction (like a sprinkler), so ploughs and other vehicles are used to spread the fresh powder across the slopes.

How a snow machine works

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