How to build the perfect snowman - according to science

Kids young and old have welcomed this week's snow as an opportunity to indulge in a favourite winter pastime - building a snowman.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 12:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st March 2018, 12:55 pm
Alison Foster posing with a pair of snowmen.

But how many people have built one which meets what scientists reckon is the PERFECT SNOWMAN?

Do you use a carrot or an orange for the nose? Build two tiers or three? Does your snowman have arms? A coal smile? Buttons? The decisions go on.

The scientific formula for a perfect snowman.

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To lend a helping hand, insurer MORE TH>N commissioned mathematician Dr James Hind, from Nottingham Trent University, to create the formula for the perfect snowman.

It takes in several variables, including height, number and diameter of snowball tiers, freshness and purity of snow, accessories, and the outdoor temperature.

It also uses the ‘golden ratio’ Phi (φ), which is used as a marker for beauty and determines the visual appeal of objects.

According to Dr Hind, a perfect snowman must:

This snowman, sent in by Neil Smith, wouldn't pass the 'perfect' test.

* Be precisely 1.62m in height;

* Be made up of three tiered balls of snow with diameters of 30cm (head ball), 50cm (body ball) and 80cm (leg ball);

* Wear three accessories: hat, scarf and gloves;

* Have three buttons on the chest, each at an equal distance from one another;

This Frozen-inspired effort, created by Lee Patrickson and son Issacc, wouldn't pass muster either. Great snowman though!

* Have a nose made from a carrot that is exactly 4cm long;

* Have eyes no more than 5cm apart;

* Have four distinct limbs (such as arms made from sticks or snow and cleft legs);

* Be made using fresh, litter free snow that has just fallen; and

The scientific formula for a perfect snowman.

* Must be built while the outdoor temperature is at or below 0°C.

Graham Nicholls, head of home insurance at MORE TH>N, said: “Building snowmen is one of the classic winter pastimes and a great opportunity for friends and family to come together.

"What’s more, snowmen can actually help to prevent household flooding, with their shape and construction slowing the melting of snow, which subsequently reduces the amount of water produced when the temperatures rise.

"The closer the snowman’s shape and size is to Dr Hind’s formula, the better its chances of curbing flood risk at home.

"With this in mind, we’d encourage households everywhere to get out in their gardens and start building the best snowmen ever.”

- Nottingham Trent University’s Dr James Hind says the perfect snowman should be 1.62m high, made of three balls of snow, always wear a hat, scarf and gloves and have three buttons on his chest

This snowman, sent in by Neil Smith, wouldn't pass the 'perfect' test.

Bizarrely, building a snowman according to the perfect formula could help reduce household flood risk once the snow starts melting.

How do our favourite snowmen shape up?

Five fictional snowmen and how they rank against the formula:

1. Jack Frost (Jack Frost, 1998) – Score 80

2. The Snowman (The Snowman, 1978) - Score: 73

3. Frosty the Snowman (Frosty the Snowman, 1969) - Score: 49

4. Leon (Elf, 2003) - Score: 20

5. Olaf (Disney’s Frozen, 2013) - Score: 15

Away from fiction, real life snowman makers have some way to go to meet the high standards of the formula. Indeed, according to research by MORE TH>N, the majority of snowmen built in the UK don’t wear a hat (64%) or scarf (59%) and the average snowman height is 1.1m (3.65ft) - meaning they are 32% shorter than the perfect snowman calculated in Dr. Hind’s formula.

Dr James Hind, of Nottingham Trent University, said: “There are many contrasting opinions about what makes the perfect snowman, but this research should settle the debate, as it outlines the definitive blueprint for the ideal snowman - according to science."

* We';d love to see your pictures of your snowman - or woman! Email them to us here or share them with us on our Facebook page.

This Frozen-inspired effort, created by Lee Patrickson and son Issacc, wouldn't pass muster either. Great snowman though!