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Weird Yet Pleasant Ways to Stay Cool in the Summers With Science

Stay Cool With Science
Summer has become just way too hot. Use your science nerd cred to cool off with some tricks of biology and chemistry - impress your friends! And if these tricks aren't enough, there's always the Science Museum. They have a/c.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2018
You already knew that science is cool, but did you know the ways that it can keep you cool in the record-setting summer heat? Sure, central air conditioning is best, and we hear that Alaska is beautiful this time of year. But when you don't have access to central a/c or a polar cabin, anything is better than nothing.
Sweat
Sweat is not a nuisance, it's your body's built-in air conditioner. As the moisture beads up on your skin, the air around it sucks it up. As the sweat evaporates, it takes heat with it, reducing your body temperature. Not only that, but the moisture on your skin feels cool under even the slightest breeze.

That's why it's so important to drink plenty of water in hot weather. When your body gets dehydrated, it cuts down on the sweat production to conserve precious moisture. If you don't sweat, you can't cool off, and your body stays hot.

The evaporative cooling nature of sweat is also why it's more difficult to cool down on humid days - the air has lots of moisture in it already, so it's not as eager to suck the moisture off your skin. Instead, the beads of sweat build up until they roll off your body, cooling potential lost. They do, however, still provide a slight cooling effect in a breeze.
Resting after yoga practice
Go Soak Your Head
Most of your body's temperature sensors are on your head. Try wetting your hair or dunking your head in cool water for quick heat relief. Sometimes, that's too messy - you can't walk around town with a dripping head. So try this neat hack - wet a bandana and tie it around your neck. The cool moisture on the back of your neck will keep you cool for longer periods of time. There are even special bandanas with cooling gel sewn into them - this gel holds onto water, keeping it from evaporating and extending the cooling period. In this case, evaporation is a bad thing.

Another cool trick is to use cotton balls to apply rubbing alcohol to your wrists, feet, and the back of your neck. Rubbing alcohol operates much like sweat, sucking heat from your body as it evaporates. Alcohol evaporates much more quickly than sweat, so the cooling sensation will feel more dramatic - but it won't last as long. Reapply as needed, but keep it away from broken or sensitive skin.
Cowboy smiling
Wear More Clothes
What? More clothes? Isn't it better to wear less in hot weather? Well, yes, on cloudy days. Going back to our sweat example, it's the evaporation of sweat that cools the body. Clothing that keeps airflow away from the sweat interferes with evaporation and therefore keeps you hot. So yes, the less clothing you wear, the cooler you'll be.

Until you take the sun into consideration. The sun is mercilessly strong. Think about it - if the sun's rays are visible all the way from Neptune and Uranus, do you really think it won't affect our little bodies here on Earth? Of course. It heats us up and burns our skin. As your skin burns, you sweat less, but your temperature rises. In other words, you get hotter and hotter, but your cooling potential keeps decreasing. So sun protection is very important to staying cool.

What about sunblock? Well, sunblock protects your skin from sunburn to a degree, but it can also inhibit sweating. Your best, best is long, loose clothing. Long enough to shield your skin from the sun, but as loose as possible to allow for the greatest airflow that aides sweat evaporation. That's why Bedouins wear long robes instead of bikinis.

Speaking of clothes, color doesn't matter as much as you think it does. Yes, light clothes reflect light and are therefore cooler, but those Bedouins wear long black robes. You feel like you're cooking in your black T-shirt, so what gives? The difference is the thickness. Bedouin robes are made of a very heavy, thick material - so yes, the outside is hot to the touch, but the fabric's thickness prevents the heat from ever reaching the skin.
Man among nature
Have Some Hot Cocoa
You mean a chocolate milkshake? No, hot cocoa. With steam. Confused?

Remember when we said that many of your body's temperature sensors were in your head? What do you think happens to them when you drink a hot liquid? What about when that hot liquid makes its way into your stomach, through the very center of your roasting body?

Well, yes. The hot cocoa raises your body temperature slightly, which makes you sweat more. But more sneakily, drinking the hot liquid tricks your temperature sensors into thinking you're hotter than you are. So your body ramps up the sweat production, and there's suddenly much more sweat to evaporate, which makes the cooling sensation that much more dramatic.

Hot cocoa in August. Ain't Science great?
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