It's really hot, so drink hot (not cold) liquids - does that advice make sense?
Posted by David Brooks | Friday, June 22, 2012
In my 20s I work for a few months on an Australian outback station - a cattle ranch, in Aussie terminology. I rolled up barbed wire, stacked hay bales and did other unskilled labor. The cattle scared me to death.
It was unbelievably hot, and they had no air conditioning. I was hurting, but the most common advice I got from the oldtimers (including Old Joe, who lived in a handmade shed about 5 miles out in the bush - honest) was to drink hot coffee, because it made you sweat and thus cooled you more quickly than anything else could.
I didn't drink coffee at the time so I didn't really test it, but it sounded kind of silly and I assumed it was just an excuse to pound down more caffeine. I asked if this meant that when I'm cold I should suck on ice cubes to make myself shiver more, and thus heat myself up? But nobody there had ever been in a cold climate, so they didn't know.
I am reminded of this debate in the current heat wave, partly because of an excellent Explainer piece at Slate (read it here). It talks about why wiping off your sweat isn't a good idea, since its the evaporation that cools you, and also why fat people sweat more (adults don't grow more sweat glands as our surface area increases, so the glands are more dispersed and have to work harder).
The piece mentions the drink-hot-liquids idea, and gives it a thumbs up:
An ice-cold glass of water briefly lowers your core temperature and feels good on a hot day, but it’s only a temporary fix. Drinking a hot cup of tea will warm you up inside, but it will also make you sweat, and the increase in perspiration more than compensates.
Old Joe would nod in agreement - although there's no way that ancient alcoholic hasn't long ago shuffled off this mortal coil.