- Written by Ruth Comerford
- BBC News
Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon caused a storm after she scooped ice to make a caramel coffee drink.
The Legally Blonde star, 47, shared her icy recipe with her TikTok followers, sparking an adorable response from many people seemingly upset at the idea of eating fresh ice.
In a TikTok video It has now been viewed 4.8 million timesWitherspoon makes “Snow Salt Chococinno” using snow collected outside her house, along with cold brew coffee, salted caramel topping and chocolate sauce.
“Well, we've been getting a ton of snow over the last few days, so we decided to make a recipe,” she says. “It's so good!”
But the idea continued to spark such backlash that the star used three more videos to address a number of concerned comments from her followers.
“There are a lot of people here who say the snow is dirty,” she says. “So we went and got ice from the backyard and heated it up in the microwave and it was like, 'Is this bad? Am I not supposed to eat ice?'
So what is the answer?
Scientists have suggested that the first snowfall is not the safest to taste.
After a water droplet freezes and forms a snowflake, it can absorb pollutants from the air as it descends.
The whiter layer and furthest from the ground is considered safer for consumption.
Stacey Simonich, a professor of environmental and toxicological ecology at Oregon State University, told the BBC that snow is safe to eat as long as it comes from a “non-urban area” and that people wait “until the first few centimeters fall.”
“The first piece of snow removes pollutants from the air,” she added, adding that it is better to “eat a small amount” from “an area where no human or animal has walked.”
For Paul Williams, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Reading, snowflakes “risk much worse contamination because they are lying on the ground, as anyone who has seen yellow snow will agree.”
“Do you drink the rain? If not, don't eat the snow,” he added. “The risks may be small, but why take the chance – I hate to disagree with Reese Witherspoon, but humans invented water treatment processes for a reason.”
However, for all those who seriously question the safety of eating ice, equal numbers seem to scoff at the whole debate.
“My Canadian character is laughing at the comment… We've been eating snow since we could crawl,” one TikTok user wrote.
Another said: “My whole family grew up making snow ice cream several times every winter. 13 of us have never gotten sick from it.”
In response to Witherspoon's post, Dr. Zachary Rubin, a pediatric allergist in Illinois, said simply: “It's not a big deal.”
“The doctor says he's fine,” Witherspoon replied.
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