Chemtrails: Are They Real, and What Is a Chemtrail?

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Dec 07, 2023

Have you ever looked up to the sky and saw the white trails left behind by passing planes? Some people believe those are “chemtrails.”

What are chemtrails? It’s a conspiracy theory that has some believing that malignant forces are spraying the population and crops with dangerous chemicals for purposes that are not entirely clear. Let’s break down the chemtrail conspiracy and discover if it is real or not.

What Is the Chemtrails Conspiracy Theory? 

The chemtrail conspiracy refers to a theory that the government or other hostile forces have a secret program to add toxic chemicals to the atmosphere through aircraft. The toxic chemicals can be seen from the ground as they form visible plumes in the sky, somewhat similar to contrails.

A jet flying through the sky with a contrail

Source: SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS/Pexels

Why would someone want to poison the population? Sterilization, reduction of life expectancy, mind control, and weather control are believed to be motives behind the alleged sprayings.

How Did the Chemtrails Conspiracy Begin? 

There isn’t one exact moment in history when the chemtrail conspiracy began. However, the chemtrail conspiracy theory train took off in the 1990s.

Contrails of Lufthansa Airbus A380

Source: IRONHIDE/Wikimedia Commons

Initially, believers claimed that chemtrail planes contained toxic metal, barium, and other toxic chemicals to either alleviate or reduce population, similar to the way the U.S. military used Agent Orange in its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1971.

Unknowing People Have Had Chemicals Sprayed on Them

Between 1940 and 1979, The Guardian reported that most of Britain was sprayed with airborne chemicals in a series of germ warfare tests. Many of the scientists involved believed the chemicals were harmless, but families in certain areas reported children with birth defects.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA

Source: Tae Fuller/Pexels

In 1950, a ship in San Francisco sprayed a bacterium agent to gauge the effects of a bioweapon attack on a populated city.

The Conspiracy Has Evolved

Today, the conspiracy has branched off into several directions. Some climate-change denialists believe that the government is controlling the weather with chemtrails.

White Smoke Coming Out from a Building

Source: Marcin Jozwiak/Pexels

In recent years, followers have expanded their accusations to claim that the contrails are spreading COVID-19, initiating “mind control,” reducing the population, or promoting a “new world order.”

What Are Chemtrails? 

While the debate is still out on whether chemtrails are real or not, they do often get mistaken. In the sky, you see contrails, which are water vapor and fine soot particles from the burning jet fuel freezing into ice crystals.

Chemtrails: Are They Real, and What Is a Chemtrail?

Source: Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

The low air humidity changes the matter of the vapor trails from some aircraft, which is why some aircraft have contrails while others don’t.


They Are Just Water Vapor

High humidity often allows for vapor trials to last longer before becoming a thin layer of a cloud made from ice crystals (known as cirrus clouds).

Cirrus clouds in a blue sky

Source: Dimitry B./Wikimedia Commons

In a conversation with the BBC, meteorologist Aidan McGivern said that cirrus clouds are found at high altitudes, which would make it difficult for any chemicals in the clouds to reach ground level.


These Clouds Are Naturally Occurring

While the many signs point to the chemtrail conspiracy already being negated by science, the followers of the theory believe that early morning chemtrails encourage greater cloud coverage later in the day.

Cumulus congestus clouds.

Source: Nicholas_T/Flickr

This is possible due to the natural process of convection. When the sun warms the ground, warm air rises and condenses into clouds later in the day.


Are Chemtrails Real?

While governments have used herbicidal warfare programs during times of conflict, there is no evidence to prove that chemtrails are real.

Chemtrails: Are They Real, and What Is a Chemtrail?

Source: Public Domain

In fact, there is a lot of scientific evidence that points to the fact that contrails, which are very real, do not have any toxic chemicals in them. And, as stated above, if chemicals were in these contrails, it would be nearly impossible for them to reach anyone on the ground.


Why Does the Chemtrails Conspiracy Presist? 

Chemtrails influencers, or conspiracy influencers, are highly active on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok. There, they discuss with their followers the alleged “spraying” and track aircraft that they believe to be chemtrail aircraft.

Close-Up Shot of a Paper in a Typewriter

Source: Markus Winkler/Pexels

Social media groups dedicated to chemtrail research are also echo chambers. Other conspiracies tend to use chemtrails as a launching point to feed into other ideas of government-control tactics.


Is There Any Truth Behind Chemtrails? 

According to NewScience, one out of 77 scientists said they encountered evidence of a secret large-scale atmospheric program. In that case, the scientist answered yes because they had come across “high levels of atm[ospheric] barium in a remote area with standard ‘low’ soil barium.”

Airplane contrails in the evening

Source: Public Domain

While this scientist is suggesting that high levels of barium cannot rule chemtrails’ existence out, there is no evidence pointing to chemtrails being real.


Contrails Do Contribute to Long-Term Climate Change

Just because chemtrails are not real doesn’t mean that contrails don’t have an effect. According to the BBC, high-altitude jets do contribute to climate change overall.

One World sign at a climate change protest

Source: Markus Spiske/Pexels

This effect is not caused by the deliberate release of secret chemicals. Instead, contrails are polluting the atmosphere. The New York Times has found that contrails are responsible for as much as 35% of all planetary warming that is caused by aviation.


Chemtrails Are Just a Debunked Conspiracy Theory

In the end, contrails, and chemtrails by default, are nothing to be afraid of. The chemtrail conspiracy theory is just that: an idea of why something is happening with no concrete evidence.

Contrails near Frankfurt, Germany

Source: Prashanta/Wikimedia Commons

There are many who believe in the chemtrail theory, but it is highly encouraged that you discover the truth about the world you live in. It is okay to question the world, but don’t attach false answers to things that are explainable through research.