Does Alcohol Keep You Warm?

April 12, 2012

Health and Fitness, Teaching

Does Alcohol Keep You Warm?

Yesterday in Cardio/Health, we were discussing the effects of alcohol on the body and brain when a student asked about drinking a shot of whiskey if you were trapped in the snow and about to freeze to death.  This student (along with a few others) had been given this advice at some point in the last few years and he wondered what is was about whiskey (or alcohol in general) that would help him stay warm.

Well, hopefully none of my students will ever be trapped in the snow and about to freeze.  If they do find themselves in this situation, alcohol won’t help keep them warm.  Here’s why this misconception exists:

The freezing point of Alcohol is considerably lower than the freezing point of water – 80 proof (40% alcohol) liquors have a freezing point of about -21 degrees whereas water freezes at 32 degrees. One might conclude that there is something going on chemically in alcohol that makes it warmer and that this warmness could somehow be transferred to the human body through consumption.

In fact, Alcohol is what’s known as a vasodilator – it causes blood vessels to dilate and pushed blood to the surface of our skin.  This will certainly make us feel warmer for a short time.  This is simply due to the fact that are body is pushing blood to the surface of our skin and basically releasing heat.  Our core temperature will actually be lowered after a drink of alcohol.

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About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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