Abestos Snow – The Most Dangerous Fake Snow in History

Today, people avoid anything containing asbestos, but there was a time when people literally sprinkled fake containing the carcinogen in a variety of situations, from Hollywood film sets to Christmas trees. Until the late 1920s, cotton was the main ingredient used for fake snow on Hollywood film sets and in people’s households. However, in 1928, a firefighter raised questions about the safety of cotton fake snow, noting that it was a fire hazard and proposing that asbestos was a safer alternative. Obviously, that was long before we realized that asbestos was a known risk factor for mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer. Sold under brands like Pure White and Snow Drift, asbestos-containing fake snow wasn’t only fire-resistant, it looked more realistic than cotton, salt, flour, and other materials used in that day. The decoration caught on fast, and before long it was being used routinely in Hollywood. In the early 1940s, asbestos stopped being used to make fake snow, and by 1950, a sprayable foam that consisted of foamite (composed of licorice in a solution of bicarbonaté of soda), water, sugar and soap was being used. Still, experts warn that vintage decorations that have a “frosted” look probably contain asbestos. Although those products haven't been produced for many years, the oldest decorations that were passed down from one generation to the next may still have small amounts of asbestos in them.