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Purple Snow – research for fantasy stories

Someone in one of my writing groups asked about what naturally occurring compound might make snow turn purple. That sent me on a fascinating journey through the internet and a rethinking of my own series. Here is the response that I had posted to the question over on Facebook.


Algae, dust or air pollutants of some sort can color snow. Most of the time algae colors snow that has already fallen, but dust and pollutants can color snow that is falling.
https://www.thoughtco.com/colored-snow-chemistry-606776

For a naturally occurring element, chromium is probably your best option.

“Chromium is a naturally-occurring element found in several forms in rocks, plants, soil, foods such as vegetables and nuts, and volcanic dust and gases. Tobacco products contain chromium. Chromium is also released from burning natural gas , oil, or coal.”

This has some good info on it… https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=10&po=5

In the case of a change of water coloration to purple – we have a real world example of water turning purple with Cerro Lagoon in Paraguay, and chromium waste from a local tannery has been identified as the culprit:

“the colour of the water is due to the presence of heavy metals like chromium, commonly used in the tanning of animal skins to produce leather.”

This site has the best pictures I see on a brief internet search for this-https://www.indiatimes.com/…/pollution-paraguayan…

Hope this helps you. I know I am now rethinking the major tannery area that I have outside the crown city in my series in progress.

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