External Mix Snowmaker (aka Snowgun)




A word of warning, this is my first Instructable, but hopefully not my last.  Snowmaking is a fun activity that can involve the whole family.  Using a small household pressure washer and a household air compressor (that produces at least 5CFM@60psi) you can make snow.  The other parts required are listed below. 

The choice of nozzle is very important for external mix snowguns.  Make Snow dot Net offers a package including all of the nozzles in this project for $60 bucks, all are stainless steel or nickel plated brass Here's the kit: http://www.makesnow.net/ExternalMixSnowgunNozzles.shtml.  
Brass nozzles that have not been plated will wear quickly, and should be avoided.  

DISCLAIMER: Dealing with high pressure water and air is dangerous, never point water towards people or pets, always use fittings rated for the pressures used. Wear eye and hearing protecton at all times. Makesnow.net is not responsible for any damages or injury.

1 MSM-X250 Nozzle (available at http://makesnow.net )
2 MSM 0204 Nozzles (available at http://makesnow.net)
1 MSM – X2A Nozzle (available at www.MakeSnow.Net)
1 22mm to ¼”NPT fitting (available at www.MakeSnow.Net)
2 ¼” NPT Street Elbow – 90 degrees (rated to at least 2000psi)
2 ¼” NPT Female T- fittings (rated to at least 2000psi)
2 ¼” NPT Female Elbow – 90 degrees (rated to at least 2000psi)
3 ¼” X 1” close nipple fittings (rated to at least 2000psi)
1 ¼” NPT Female to 1/8” NPT Male Bushing (rated to at lease 2000psi)
1 Roll of Teflon Tape
1 ¼”NPT female thread Compressed Air Quick Connect
1 Piece of Metal to mount the snowgun on 

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Assemble the Water Plumbing

Connect the parts together as follows. Always put at least three layers of Teflon tape on the male
threads before attaching the fittings together, including the threads on the nozzles. Attach the Street Elbow to the end of one T-Fitting.

Step 2: Attaching the T-Fitting...

 Take a second T-Fitting and attach the 22mm to ¼” NPT Fitting in the perpendicular outlet of
the T-Fitting (that is, if you were to place the T-fitting so it looked like a T, you would be
attaching the 22mm to ¼” NPT Fitting to the bottom 

Step 3: Attach Steps 1 and 2 Together

Attach the parts from steps 1 and 2 together with a close nipple.

Step 4:

On the bottom T fitting connect a ¼” X 1” close nipple and a ¼” NPT Female elbow

Step 5: Add the Upper Nozzles

On the open threads from the elbow in step 5, attach a second ¼” X 1” close nipple and the
second ¼” NPT Female elbow. Attach the two MSM0204 nozzles to the exposed threads at the top of the snowgun.

Step 6: Setting Up the Air Nozzle

Take the air quick connect fitting, ¼” Street elbow and attach them together

Step 7: The Alignment - Will Make It or Break It

Take your mounting bracket and correctly set it up so that the MSM-X250’s water mist will be
intersected as closely as possible by the air from the MSM-X2A’s stream. This is the most
important part of building an external mix snowgun, the nozzles must be as close to perfectly
aligned as possible or the snowgun will not make snow. We are happy to answer questions
about building snowguns, however because of the volume of questions we received about the
alignment of external snowguns in the past we are unable to provide answers on how best to
align these nozzles. Makesnow.net offers pre-made external mix snowguns if you question your ability to
attain the correct alignment.

Step 8: Starting to Make Snow and Shutting It Down.

To start up your combo gun follow these steps, complete each step before you move on to the next
1) Check the wet bulb temperature so it is less than -1C or 30F (or the dry bulb temperature is
below -2C or 28F)
2) Lay out your hoses where they will be during the run
3) Connect the water hose to the faucet.
4) Turn on the air compressor
5) Attach the end of the water hose to the snowgun
6) Attach the air hose to the snowgun
7) Connect the air hose to the air compressor
8) Turn on the water at the faucet
9) Turn on the pressure washer.
10) Make Snow!

Shut Down Procedure
To shut down your MSX-250 follow these steps.
1) Turn off pressure washer
2) Turn off the water and disconnect the water hose at the faucet.
3) Turn off air compressor
4) Disconnect gun from hoses
5) Drain Hoses
6) Store hoses, pressure washer, and snowgun in an area which will not allow them to freeze

If you liked this instructable, check out the easier Internal Mix Snowgun Guide https://www.instructables.com/id/Home-Snowmaker-Snowgun-internal-mix/

Be the First to Share


    • Skateboard Contest

      Skateboard Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    19 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Seems like a neat concept. Sadly, it doesn't work very well here in sunny Florida :) (it makes a very nice mister for the hot days though...)

    As the rest of the group has stated for future iStrbles you may want to just reference a supply house of choice and be much more detailed with your deign and assembly.

    If there is anything One thing that is overwhelmingly clear throughout this entire post it would have to be "Don't sell us, Show Us!!!" Keep in mind the audience here is much more focused on doing, rather than buying. We understand that all projects will have a parts list, but it should be just that.

    Thanks again for your willingness to share in the first place and we all look forward to your next iStrble.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've tried for two winters now to make snow in Orlando, and last year I got extremely close. (We've had something like 7 days since winter 2009 where the temperature and humidity were right to make "wet" (poor quality) snow.) While, yes, I agree that this instructable is almost blatantly an advertisement for the site listed, trying to make snow without commercial atomizing/nucleating nozzles is bordering on impossible. I worked at a machine shop for close to a decade and have a mill and lathe at home, and I wasn't able to make a nozzle with a proper spray pattern. I do intend to try again this year, and when my house is the only one within 200 miles blanketed with glorious snow, surrounded by dozens of confused and jealous neighbors (or if I make a cubic foot of slushy wet goop that melts before anyone gets to revel in my genius) I'll post an instructable.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    One final set up would be nice. Other then that great first instructable.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great first Instructable! And what a fun project. Thanks for sharing, I would love to make it snow sometime!


    3 years ago

    This idea works, but if you don't have a air compressor could you just attach a water mister over a fan and then just aim it around? I don't know if the fan would have enough power to make small enough droplets, but it could be used to make ice sheets......


    6 years ago on Introduction


    We're giving away a free external mix snowmaker at www.facebook.com/makesnowdotnet.

    Very simple instructions, to enter simply make a video over 1 minute in length describing what you would do with all the snow you will make.

    On November 6, 2012 at noon whichever video has the most likes wins and the person who posts it will be sent a free MSX-250H external mix home snowmaker from MakeSnow.Net!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've been making snow for about five years now. External nucleation snowguns are more fool-proof to operate than internal nucleation, though getting the air outlet aligned properly with the water can be troublesome. Internal-mix snowguns resolve this issue. For any information you could ever want on home snowmaking, you might wanna check out the forum on www.snowguns.net , where you'll find tons of information on what people have already done, ideas, and trials of experimental and failed experiments.

    I have several critiques of your design that I will say only to help with your snowmaking endeavors. I am not trying to tear apart your build, rather am just trying to share the knowledge I've acquired.
    I would recommend using a rubber (not pvc) garden hose for your air line. The reason for this is the air being pushed by your compressor can be very humid and you will experience a buildup of ice on the walls of the airline. This will constrict your airflow and will eventually freeze it shut. Using a larger diameter line for your air will reduce the amount of restriction and will increase the time it takes for enough ice to build up to completely block the air. Not to mention, there will be less friction from the air on the lining of the airline and you will be able to push more air, since you want high volume, at low psi (I run about 13 cfm at 40psi). Those 1/4" air fittings are especially prone to freeze-ups, since it is a cold metal with a small opening.
    Another thing you might want to consider is insulating your gun. Depending on the weather conditions, it can be very easy for the nucleating nozzle to freeze. Insulating the piping helps with this.

    Also, it is a lot cheaper to buy nozzles directly through a distributor than from a specialty "snowmaking" website, which I can't help but notice you plug a lot. Sometimes you can even get free or highly discounted samples from directly from the manufacturer. I buy all of my nozzles and specialty fittings, like pressure washer hose fittings, quick-connects, garden hose fittings, etc. from Pressure Parts, and then I buy all of my plumbing from MasterCarr. The nozzles should be more than about $20 total for all the nozzles you'll need for most snowguns, unless you buy a special nozzle.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey! How do you know which nozzles are correct when buying from these sites? Cause i tried to type in the numbers from the "snowmaking' sites and it came up with no matches:(
    Thanks Doug


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction


    It depends on your equipment and your typical weather conditions. I use 4002 nozzles for bulk and either a 4003 or 4004 (I switch it out depending on the temperature) for nucleation, by if you live where your winters are very cold and very dry (less than 10 deg Fahrenheit or below 5 deg wet bulb) then you could use as large as 4008 (40deg spray with .08 gpm flow rate, rated at 40psi-industry standard unless otherwise noted)and still be making snow and not ice or a glorified garden sprayer.

    Btw, I run my gun at 1000-1500 psi water (higher pressure=smaller droplets), and 13cfm at 40psi air.

    I hope this helped.
    Good luck!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Great! That helped a lot! I live in colorado and its normally very dry and faily cold so would you recommend 4004 Nozzles? and all the nozzles will be the same size right? Also do you know what the exact nozzles are that are included in the "makesnow nozzle package(http://www.makesnow.net/ProductPage.php?itemNumber=1)"? Sorry about all the question! But thanks a bunch! -Doug


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This isn't an Instructable, it's simply a post from the downloadable instructions from the "makesnow" website being referred to.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    All of the steps are posted on here, simply scroll through them by clicking "next step" (just above the comments) or you can view all of the steps on one page by clicking on the first box beside the row of pictures at the top of the page.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I think you're missing the point about you marketing your website and products through Instructables.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Your instructable would be great if it showed the final connections and all the materials laid out ahead of time, as it is seriously it looks like an advertisement and fwiw I feel like I would need to purchase your products just to complete it as written.

    More details would be greatly appreciated in a broader sense than "connect pipe A to fitting B and oops make sure you connect it right or it will not work". Also an explanation of why the pressure washer is required would be good. The instructable is interesting though.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I agree with theirishscion

    I get really annoyed when an Ible is more of an advertisement for product sales than an instructible.

    amend your Ible to include a detailed description of that please


    You miight want to add a picture of the finished product from a couple of angles so we can see exactly what you mean by 'intersecting' in this context. Also, considering the evident difficulty getting that part of the build right, and your evident experience with the topic, perhaps a paragraph or two of pointers rather than just saying 'it's hard, we won't answer questions about it'

    Possibly I'm missing something here but that bit comes off a bit like an embedded advertisement for the pre-built option.

    Otherwise, a fine and detailed instructable, thanks and well done.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Some other free snowmaker plans are available at http://www.makesnow.net/products.shtml#freeEguides