Hair Ice found on the hiking trails in Washington

As winter settles in, the world outside transforms into a winter wonderland, and we can experience its many marvels. One of the lesser-known winter phenomena is hair ice, a delicate and intricate formation that appears on the surface of dead wood during freezing conditions. Hair ice is a remarkable sight, resembling delicate, silky threads of hair, and its creation remains a mystery to science. 

Slow mo video of Hair ice growing on a branch - Defiance Gear Co.

What is Hair Ice?

Hair ice is a rare type of ice that forms on the dead wood of broad-leaved trees in humid, sub-zero temperatures. The formation of hair ice is a mysterious process, and scientists are yet to understand its exact mechanism. The process was first described by Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist, in 1918.

The Formation of Hair Ice

Hair ice forms when the temperature falls below freezing, and the dead wood is damp. It requires three essential components: a fungus, a low-temperature environment, and a high level of humidity. When these factors come together, the fungus works with the moisture in the dead wood to create the delicate ice filaments. The fungus is essential in creating a thin layer of ice, which serves as a platform for the formation of the hair-like structures.

The scientific explanation for hair ice formation is still incomplete, and researchers continue to study the process. However, it is known that the hair-like filaments are incredibly delicate and break easily upon touch. They are also incredibly uniform in shape, with the thickness of the hair remaining consistent throughout the entire length.

Hair ice is not limited to a particular geographic location, and it has been observed in many parts of the world. However, it is a rare phenomenon, and it requires the perfect combination of environmental factors to occur.

The Beauty of Hair Ice

The beauty of hair ice lies in its delicate and intricate structure. Each hair-like filament is unique, with a consistent thickness and a fine, silky texture. The ice filaments curl and twist, forming intricate patterns that resemble delicate spider webs. The texture of hair ice is unlike any other form of ice, with a softness that is gentle to the touch.

Seeing hair ice in person is a rare and magical experience, and it is something that should be enjoyed when it is possible. Due to its delicate nature, hair ice is often short-lived, and it is essential to capture its beauty when it is at its best.


Hair ice is one of the most delicate and beautiful winter phenomena, and its creation remains a mystery to science. Its intricate patterns and delicate structure make it a remarkable sight, and seeing it in person is a magical experience. With its delicate nature and limited occurrence, it is a reminder of the beauty of the natural world and the mysteries that it holds.

Hair Ice growing on a branch - Defiance Gear co.
Hair ice growing on a log - Defiance Gear Co.

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