The secret to the snowflake’s shape can be found in a stack of oranges.

If you go over to the grocery store and head over to the produce section, you’ll find that oranges are stacked up in a way that each orange is touching six other oranges. This arrangement is called a hexagon–it has six sides.  Honeycombs have this hexagonal shape. So do bath tiles.

Oranges in a hexagon shape

Oranges are arranged so that each orange touches six other oranges–a hexagon. Source: Shutterstock

Water molecules stack up just like the oranges, which is why snowflakes have six points to them.  The water molecules collect on a small piece of ice or dust in a cloud and build out just like the oranges to create 6 sides. It takes about 100,000 water droplets to eventually make one snowflake.

What you might not know is that snowflakes have other shapes too.  One looks like a spool of thread, another looks like a pencil. Scientists are still trying to find out how each is made.

Where there is no mystery is how beautiful snowflakes are and how much collaboration it takes for water molecules to create a flake that lands on your tongue.

Find you more about snowflakes here (Affiliate links):

Snowflakes by Ken Libbrecht (featured in the podcast)

Snowflakes in Photographs (picture book of real snowflakes)

Snowflake Bentley (The man who photographed snowflakes)

 

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