An unusual new conspiracy theory has spread online after Texas suffered through a severe winter storm.
Viral videos on TikTok showed some users apparently baffled by the properties of the snow that enveloped the state last week, alleging it's "manufactured" and it smells "like plastic" when heated.
One video shows a young Texan woman trying to melt a snowball with a small tea light candle on her back porch. The snowball she's holding becomes blackened by the candle flame but doesn't immediately melt.
"Snow should melt. I don't think this is snow. I think this is manufactured snow," the woman says. She goes on to hold a snowball over a hair dryer in another video.
Another video shows a man picking up powdery snow, saying: "That's government snow right here. Just falls right off your hand, don't even make it wet".
On Wednesday last week, "Fake snow" became a top related search term for people also searching "Texas snow", Insider reported.
Another high-ranked search term linked Bill Gates to "fake snow" in the southern US state.
Conspiracy theorists have linked the winter storm to SCoPEx, a Harvard research group, partly funded by Gates, which is looking at the viability of using solar geoengineering to combat the effects of climate change.
However, the phenomenon is not a conspiracy, and can be explained by simple science. According to a fact check from USA Today, the process of heated snow appearing not to drip is explained by "sublimation".
Sublimation — a similar process to evaporation, occurs when a solid becomes a gas, without first becoming a liquid.
Meteorologist Adam Strzempko told WWLP-22 in 2015 the process occurs naturally on sunny winter days, where there is "low relative humidity".
The strange conspiracy theories come after the extreme weather left dozens dead and others facing crippling power bills just to stay alive.
At least 70 people died as a direct result of the freezing temperatures, lack of heating and wild weather, with power knocked out for millions of residents and the chaos extending into several other southern states.