Frost Crystals on Windowpanes

March 24, 2015

Dendritic (1)

Photographer: Heather Renyck
Summary AuthorHeather Renyck March 2015 Viewer's Choice
Frost crystals
grow as water vapor is deposited on solid surfaces. Frost crystals on windowpanes form when cold air (below about 14 F or -10 C) causes the moister, warm air inside of a building to cool and condense on the window glass. The resulting hexagonal ice crystals are influenced by minute scratches, Sidebardust and residues on the glass. Elaborate patterns often emerge from dendritic frost ferns, to needle-like crystals, to an inter-grown crystal mosaic, and more.
These frost photos were taken on Valentine's Day 2015 in Meaford, Ontario, as temperatures dropped to -17 F (-27 C). The crystals were all deposited on double-paned windows. Included here are 3 different frost patterns. First (at top), the dendritic pattern, sometimes called frost ferns, shows feather-like deposits. The average size of the individual feather is approximately 1 cm in length. These crystals formed on a window above the sink in my kitchen.
The second pattern (left top), which looks to me like a stalk of wheat, formed adjacent to the kitchen sink window, but not directly over the sink. The original pattern didn't have the darker dots. The dots emerged as I was cooking pasta and the frost began to melt. The longest of these was about 8 in (20 cm) in length while the shortest was about 3/4 in (2 cm). The third pattern (left bottom) is more needle-like and shows feathers if you look closely. This curious pattern formed in the mudroom where spiders often build their webs. I'm not sure if residual webs influenced this pattern, but they have in the past.
Photo details: All photos - Camera Maker: OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.; Camera Model: E-510; Focal Length: 35mm; Aperture: ƒ/5.0; Exposure Time: 0.0063 s (1/160); ISO equiv: 100; Software: QuickTime 7.7.1.