Does a hot drink really cool you faster than a cold one?

hot drink Barcode

“Have a hot drink, this will cool you down”.

Is there really anything imaginably worse than having a hot bevy when you’re sweating in the sun?! Who on earth in their right mind would want a cup of tea over a ice-cold Coca- Cola? I’m not sure if this is an old wive’s tale or just one of those sayings that get passed on generation to generation (like eating cheese gives you nightmares), but is there any substance in this claim?!

This debated topic is of the upmost importance because… wait for it… summer has finally arrived in Britain! And I know this because every middle aged man in sight has decided to dust off their combat shorts and wack out their pale, veiny chicken legs.

Summer is coming

It’s a fact that Britain is getting hotter. According to the Met Office heatwave summers will be the norm in Europe by the 2040s and, as a result of climate change, average temperatures across Europe will exceed those seen in 2003 – when Britain recorded its highest ever temperature of 38.5C – in more than half the summers that decade

So deciding whether to have a coffee or a Coke is something us Brits will have to deliberate on a regular basis.

cold summer drink barcode 

It’s science bro

Now according to Dr Oliver Jay, of the Thermal Ergonomics Lab at the University of Ottowa, the answer in short is YES- a hot drink can cool you down. However, only under specific circumstances…

Dr Jay claims that when you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body. This is only possible, however, on the condition that the additional sweat produced from your body is able to evaporate.

You see, when you ingest a hot drink you actually produce a disproportionate amount of sweat to cool you down. So in other words, yes you are making yourself hotter from drinking yet, from the amount you sweat as a result of making your body hotter overall, it actually makes you cooler than you were before you had the drink.

So in sum, sweating is key to cool yourself down from a hot bevy. Although sweat may seem like a nuisance, every time you perspire energy is absorbed into the air… A larger amount of sweat means more cooling which counteracts the drink you had in the first place.

Evaporation is key

Nevertheless if your sweat cannot evaporate and leave your body, then drinking a hot drink to cool you down will prove to be COMPLETELY USELESS to cool you down during summer.

“On a very hot humid day or if you’re wearing a lot of clothing that you sweat so much it drips on the ground and doesn’t evaporate from the skin’s surface, then drinking a hot drink is a bad thing” Jay says. “The hot drink still does add a little heat into the body, so if the sweat’s not going to assist in evaporation (which transfers heat energy away from the body) then definitely go for a cold drink”

Specific circumstances

So if you’re in a hot dry climate, where you’re not wearing much clothing then a hot drink can help you cool down. However if you find yourself in a greenhouse or in a humid pub somewhere in a city centre then a nice cold beverage can help you cool down.

Glad we’ve got that one cleared up.
–Tim

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