How Does Eating Ice Cream in Hot Weather Cool You Off?

Most people seem to think so that eating ice cream in hot weather cools you off. At the local Dairy Queen there is always a long line of people seeking cool after-dinner desserts in the summer, but starting the day after Labor Day, the place is virtually “desserted.”

The answer to the question is in fact, no. After all, we are warmblooded creatures with thermostats set at 98.6°F (37°C), and eating something cold cannot change that.

Our cooling mechanism is purely a surface phenomenon: the evaporation of perspiration from our skins, assisted, when we’re lucky, by a breeze that hastens the process. Putting ice cream into one’s mouth serves only to cool the mouth. You’d do much better by smearing the ice cream all over your body.

According to my calculations, melting a one-inch, 0°F (-18°C ) ice cube in the mouth would absorb only 1.3 calories of heat. If distributed over the entire body, that amount of heat loss would lower the temperature of a 150 pound person by 0.007°F (0.004°C).

Dogs, however, do cool themselves through the mouth by sticking out their long, wet tongues and panting to evaporate the saliva. You might want to try that; it should be more effective than eating an ice cream cone.