The Fastest Way to Cool a Hot Beverage

The Fastest Way to Cool a Hot Beverage

Sarah Rae Smith
Jan 6, 2010
How do you cool down a hot drink? Do you toss in an ice cube? Blow across the top? Leave a spoon in it? Stir? There are many ideas on what cools a hot beverage down the fastest, but not to worry, we can always count on Science to tell us which one is best!

Over the holidays we found ourselves doing a little light reading and in this case, it was Molecular Gastronomy, Exploring The Science of Flavor. Think of it as the French to English translation of all the fantastic science-y bits of Alton Brown's Good Eats. They obviously had a ball testing theory after theory for their publication and we're here to share a little bit of their findings.

To start, they tested the effects of leaving a teaspoon in a drink vs. adding milk to a hot drink. They tested both methods on a beverage that had been boiled in identical cups, in identical amounts. The teaspoon barely registered an increased rate of temperature loss, while the milk was an improvement — but not as much so as the next two options.

Up next was stirring and blowing. Their stirred beverage lost 6 degrees per minute. Then the same test was performed while blowing across the surface of the liquid. This resulted in a loss of 11 degrees per minute, almost twice the previous test.

Though you might look silly doing it, the combination of blowing while stirring your extra-hot beverage will allow you to drink it fastest! This will maximize the surface area of contact between the air and the liquid giving you a loss of 20 degrees per minute. Winner!

So no more burned lips and tongue. In just one minute of your time you can reduce the temperature of your drink back down to something palatable instead of mouth-scalding!

Related: Definitely Try This! Tea-Infused Hot Chocolate

(via: Molecular Gastronomy, Exploring The Science of Flavor)
(Image: Flickr member Marco Arment, licensed for use by Creative Commons)

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