Why Does Water Turn Yellow in Snow Globes?

By Lauren Farrelly

What is a Snow Globe?

A snow globe is a decoration or souvenir that has been a collector's item for more than 100 years. Inside the clear glass or hard plastic bubble, a scene or object is surrounded by a combination of water and glycerin. There are also small flakes (usually made out of plastic) that immitate falling snow. When the globe is shaken, the snow "falls," creating a winterland-like scene. Snow globes are available in varying sizes and shapes all over the world.

Why Does Snow Globe Water Turn Yellow?

One reason snow globe water may turn yellow is because improper water was used when it was filled. Distilled water and glycerin should be used to fill the globe, and if tap or unfiltered water is used, the color of the water can change drastically. Placing your snow globe in direct sunlight for long periods of time can also create bubbles, or gaps, in between the water and the glass bowl--making it seem as though your globe was not filled with enough water. Over time, the sunlight can virtually evaporate the water from inside the globe, and encourage bacteria to grow in non-distilled water.

Replacing Snow Globe Water

Some snow globes have a small notch on the bottom of the globe that can be opened (after some heavy duty prying), and the water can be released. Otherwise, try replacing the water by removing the glass globe portion from the base itself. Flip the globe upside down and carefully break the seal of the glass globe around the base. Try and heat the seal to help it come apart, but be very careful not to break or damage the glass during this process. Once you have released the globe from the base, pour the water over a sheet of cheesecloth to catch the "snow" from inside the globe and set it aside. Clean out the glass carefully on the inside, then replace the water with 80-percent distilled water and 20-percent glycerin, as well as the "snow." Place the base back on the globe, seal it with a waterproof sealant and let it set for at least two hours.

About the Author

Lauren Farrelly has been writing and producing for television since 2003. She has experience covering sports, business news and general news events for CNBC, ESPN and Bleacher Report. Farrelly has a BA in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.