When snow melts, where does the white go?

Why is snow white? Snow is made of water, and clean water is clear. When snow melts, where does the white color go?

When you look at any object, what you're seeing is light reflecting off the object. Sunlight contains all the colors of light combined. You can see these colors when light passes through a prism.

Say you're wearing a red shirt. When sunlight hits the shirt, the molecules on the surface of the fabric absorb most of the light - except for the red light. Red light is reflected back to your eye. You see a red shirt.

Snow looks white because ice crystals reflect light better than water does. Water transmits light (lets it pass through). But the microscopically rough surfaces of ice crystals act like tiny mirrors. Light is scattered instead of passing through. When something reflects all the colors of light, and doesn't absorb any, you see the object as white. So snow looks white.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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