Sweat Is Cool!

It is rather hot out. This observation, and others like it have taken up approximately thirty percent of my brain power this past week. The other seventy percent has been taken up, in large part, by the heavily Walter Scott–C.S. Lewis–Steven Moffat inspired story I have been writing. (It is so good to be out of school!) Seeing as I plan to be spending the remainder of my time before my summer job begins, outside, I thought I would post some of my thoughts on the matter of heat, mostly on sweat.

1. It is possible to become acclimated to the heat. However, there also seems to be a gene that determines one’s propensity to feel the heat. A down-side to becoming acclimated to any temperature however, is that one’s internal thermostat is regulated by that temperature. Thus, any temperature very much lower, no matter how high the acclimated temperature, feels very cold. The opposite holds true for people from a cold climate.

2. A thin film of sweat and dead skin forms on the surface of the skin. However, after coming inside, it forms a sort of gel-like consistency and does not evaporate or disappear until one takes a shower. I realize this is a disgusting observation. However, for some reason, I find it immensely interesting, especially in light of this post, which mentions that there is a thin layer of water molecules on natural surfaces. I also wonder whether this layer could be utilized to form some sort of natural barrier to mosquitoes.

3. Hot weather is more conducive to sloppy dressing in the normal world, and elaborately beautiful dressing in the fashion world. For example, I recently learned that if I am to wear a dress well I must possess coordinating accessories. Accessories are hot. However, if I simply wear a nylon soccer shirt and jean shorts, I can blend into the masses of normal people who do not accessorize. Hot weather also leads to sweaty shirts and mussy hair. (Yay!)

4. Dogs do not appear to sweat. (much) The chief reason that fans are so useful is that they move the air around, displacing the humid air with

not-so-humid air, which in turn allows the sweat to evaporate off our skin, absorbing its heat of vaporization from our skin, cooling us. Yet dogs enjoy sitting in front of fans, and my dog was actually cooperative when I clipped her hair this last hot week. I can think of one reason for these phenomena: the fan also displaces the hotter air surrounding people and animals; thus shorter hair–or crew-cut hair–allows more cool air to get to the skin. The heat probably also exhausts dogs to such an extent that they are beyond struggling against the clippers. Though they do not sweat much through the surface of their skin because panting is their heat-coping mechanism, laying in front of the fan allows them to get cooler air over the tongue.

5. Heat, or perhaps changes in the humidity, seem to release certain scents. A good example is the smell of hot tar. Recently, the local Aldi repaved their parking lot, and, I realize this is common, the smell was really strong. It became notably hot this week, and, while my parents were out, I opened all the windows and turned on fans. That evening I smelled the scent of cinnamon and allspice very strongly. It was the scent of my mother’s reed diffuser, which she got for Christmas and which I had stopped smelling months ago. Finally, and perhaps most disgustingly, my sweat began to stink. My sweat has never stunk. I have been able to wear antiperspirant for days before it broke down. Perhaps it is something to do with getting older, sweating more, or spending more time outside. Perhaps the heat and sweat flushes out the glands in our noses, giving us a hyperactive sense of smell. Finally, perhaps the heat speeds mold and decay and the evaporation of those surface water molecules bearing smells.

Perhaps I should take a look into the chemistry of sweat. Today in a human physiology textbook, I ran across the idea that humans do not feel the actual temperature, but the difference from their recent temperatures. I like the idea that it is all relative. Within a certain range, the human body does not have to lower the temperature of the body by much, only making the body feel cooler works. I also find it fascinating that the body has its own coping mechanisms, although I wonder why dead skin and salt is involved. Perhaps this is so the ratio of salt to water in the body remains the same and avoids a sort of salt-sea phenomenon, or maybe this is because all the water in the body is salt water. Anyway, sweat is cool.

Thoughts? Exclamations of disgust? Comments?