Woman suffers burns during cold weather experiment

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BROWN DEER (WITI) -- You've probably seen the videos of people throwing cups of boiling water into the sub-zero air. The result is a dramatic cloud of steam. But what if it goes wrong?

Wisconsin's sub-zero plunge this past week has brought out the scientist in many people -- capturing on YouTube videos the instant gratification of turning hot water into vapor -- but with whipping winter winds, for every successful result, there are examples of what happens when it all goes wrong.

Crystal Wallem

Crystal Wallem

On Monday, January 6th, it went wrong for 22-year-old Crystal Wallem.

"It was boiling on the stove for awhile. I actually took the temperature. It was 220 degrees or something," Wallem said.

On her third attempt, Wallem was looking for a more dramatic effect -- filling a bucket with several gallons of boiling water, but when she released it, the wind shifted, and Wallem's back was covered in scalding water and steam.

"It hurt so bad. I was probably the worst pain I have ever felt," Wallem said.

Burns suffered by Crystal Wallem after tossing boiling water into bitter cold air

Burns suffered by Crystal Wallem after tossing boiling water into bitter cold air

That night, Wallem was in the hospital with second-degree burns, and what her father, Scott Wallem saw while in the ER waiting room only added insult to injury.

"I'm watching the Weather Channel and there's a guy doing it right on Television and it's like, people, if you saw my daughter's back, you'd stop doing this," Scott Wallem said.

Scott Wallem says the experiment is shown far too often on TV and the internet, saying the risk is, of course, greater for children.

"For somebody her age, it's fine to try it but just be careful -- but little kids are on social media and little kids are on Facebook. We have to be careful what we put out there," Scott Wallem said.

Crystal Wallem chose not to post video of the experiment -- but instead, the result.

"At least for the scars to go away, if they go away at all, it could take up to a year. It should take a few weeks for it to heal enough to the point I don't have bandages on," Wallem said.

The Wallem family says their daughter was the third person to check into the hospital on Monday night with burns from doing the same trick.


  • josh

    This is just unbelievable I hope she can not reproduce cause we have enough idiots like her in the world already

  • Crystal

    Hello “Josh” and “a.” I know you feel all cool and superior because you have the time on your hands to leave an ignorant comment on a dumb news story about a girl who burned herself when the wind shifted its course. I’m sure you leave comments like this often. Because you’re much smarter than all those stupid people you see on tv, right? Well here’s to you! You are so right, Josh. People like me shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. Adventurous, risk taking individuals who press on and don’t miss a beat despite their injuries and mistakes. The world would be a better place without them. But rather–people like you, Josh, who waste away and spend their precious lives making ignorant comments on the internet with the sole purpose of putting an individual down. Now those are the kind of people we all want to reproduce and populate the earth! Get a life. And stay out of mine or I’ll throw a pot of boiling water on you.

    • Jason

      I had to laugh at (with) your response…the comments are right on the money…To beat down an accident is pouring salt in a wound that already hurts. There’s no good reason to talk trash about another’s misfortune.
      I too was interested in performing the experiment, but I don’t get home until after dark so the results wouldn’t have been as spectacular as all the videos I’ve seen posted online by friends.
      I hope your recovery is complete and fast…I can only imagine the discomfort you felt when the water blew back on you. I’m sure the result could have been much worse.
      Cheers to the next adventure!

    • Gary D. Hamilton

      Hi Crystal I hope the pain goes away soon, accidents happen. I am sure many thought of doing this. The media made the thought of trying it very enticing.

  • Really!?

    A couple gallons of boiling water!? That’s just asking for trouble! Someone should have used more common sense. Just a cup would suffice.

  • Sir Widebottom

    Note the article says she was the third person to check in at that particular hospital on that particular night. Several people have been trying this experiment. She did the right thing by using her accident to warn others. Props to her.

  • josh

    I have never seen winds just shift course in the mater of seconds and yes like the other guys said who throws gallons of boiling water into the air. Common sense says bad idea but I guess that’s just me

    • Chrissie Rahlf

      Josh, obviously you don’t live around here or else you don’t go outside very often, winds shift all the time. And as for her “stupid act”, you mean to say you have NEVER tried something knowing it could have some danger to it? I don’t believe that for a second….you must be a model citizen that never comes out of their house! She did the article to help people actually think about the dangers and to be a little more careful if they try this experiment. As for Crystal, thank you for making me a little more aware of the ” what if’s”. Hope you a good and speedy recovery!

  • Nicole

    Josh, your the idiot.
    I never knew this could happen, I am glad I didn’t happen to me, and I feel so bad for her. I would have continue doing this If it was not for her story. She was only doing something many do, but she had to find out the damage the hard way. And yes, wind can change very Stickley, especially in the weather we have had. So crystal, I hope you heal well and thank you so much for sharing your story to warn others!
    Josh, go be an idiot somewhere else.

  • Janice

    Is this for real? You don’t need a news article to tell you that throwing a couple gallons of boiling water in the air could possibly result in burns. This stuff should be common sense.
    Also, it’s baffling that people are defending her. I hope she recovers soon, but we need to be letting society know that using your brain is actually a good thing. Everybody is so caught up on being tolerant and nonjudgmental. Well, I’ll be the first to say it. I have no tolerance for stupidity and idiocy.
    Maybe an act such as this will teach Crystal a few critical thinking skills, something she clearly hasn’t learned in the first 22 years of her life.

  • Hungus Karl

    This is great. So how many beers did it take to think throwing a couple of gallons of hot water in the air was a good idea.

  • Matt

    I can testify to the fact that Crystal does in fact have critical thinking skills. It breaks my heart to see so many people attacking her for an accident that anyone of you could have easily made.

    Do you any of you know that her motive in talking to the news station was to help others by warning them to exercise caution if/when trying this experiment?

    Yes, this is dangerous. Yes, second degree burns are avoidable.

    Everybody makes mistakes. Please don’t attack somebody who you clearly don’t even know for an accident that you could have easily made yourself.

  • matthewrknoll

    Oops, I accidentally typed the word ‘you’ one too many times. I’m probably an idiot and shouldn’t have children.

      • matthewrknoll

        Yes, I see the difference. What I don’t see is the need for belittling somebody because of the mistakes they have made.

  • Jake

    I went to high school with this woman, and I know that she is no idiot. Yes her adventuorous spirit got her hurt this one time, but she has the fun loving personality that has more than made up for it in her life. Before you make some snide comment about how she shouldn’t reproduce, maybe take the time to find out more who she is and find out that she is exactly the kind fo person we need more of.

    • Nick

      I just checked out her facebook page and WOW!!!! She is very pretty and takes some excellent pics! Good luck with your future!! I wish you well.

  • Andrew

    You’re going to throw a boiling pot of water on “Josh?” I’m willing to bet that you miss and get yourself again.

  • Your all dumb

    And I’m pretty sure fox 6 showed people this great idea.now there is a story about someone getting injured. Good way to make news, show the sheep a trick and wait for someone to hurt themselfs and bam! you have fox 6 news

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