Does Drinking Alcohol Really Keep You Warm When It's Cold Out?

Joe Robbins / Getty
Joe Robbins / Getty

Daven Hiskey runs the wildly popular interesting fact website Today I Found Out. To subscribe to his “Daily Knowledge” newsletter, click here.

Here's something tailgaters, ice skaters, skiers and other cold weather fans might want to keep in mind: Drinking boozy beverages will make you feel warmer, but it doesn't actually keep you warm or prevent hypothermia. Instead, drinking alcohol lowers the core temperature of your body.

According to Dr. William Haynes, director of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Iowa, “Consumption of alcohol undoes many of the human body’s healthy reflexes, one of which is keeping the core body temperature warm in cold weather.” It doesn’t even take that much for this effect to kick in—just one alcoholic drink will start the process that results in a lowered core body temperature.

How does alcohol do this, and why does drinking alcohol make you feel warmer, even though you actually are getting colder?

You Booze, You Lose (Heat)

Alcohol is a vasodilator. It causes your blood vessels to dilate, particularly the capillaries just under the surface of your skin. When you have a drink, the volume of blood brought to the skin’s surface increases, making you feel warm. (That dilation is why slightly or exceedingly intoxicated people look flushed.) This overrides one of your body’s defenses against cold temperatures: Constricting your blood vessels, thereby minimizing blood flow to your skin in order to keep your core body temperature up.

Someone enjoying a drink in the cold may feel warmer from the extra blood warming his skin, but that blood will rapidly cool thanks to the chill in the air. Plus, the warmth caused by blood rushing to the skin will also make him sweat, decreasing his core temperature even further. The rapid drop often occurs without the drinker realizing it, because his skin will still feel fairly warm, which makes it doubly dangerous to drink alcohol in extremely cold weather. (You might want to put down the coffee, too; caffeine has a similar effect.)

The Big Chill

This isn’t the only bad thing about drinking alcohol in the cold. According to a study done by the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, drinking alcohol in chilly weather also reduces the body’s ability and tendency to shiver, taking away yet another method your body uses to help keep warm when it is cold.

Bottom line? The age-old practice of drinking alcoholic beverages to keep the body warm in cold weather is the exact opposite of what you should do.

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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This Board Game Teaches You to Blind-Taste Your Wine Like a Sommelier

It's OK if you play with boxed wine.
It's OK if you play with boxed wine.
Sommify, YouTube

Reading wine guides and talking to trained sommeliers might help you learn about wine-tasting, but the only real way to hone your skills is to sip a lot of wine. Finally, there’s a board game for that.

Sommify was created by husband-and-wife team Jessica Bush and Conner “Trash Palate” Taylor to give aspiring wine experts an opportunity to blind-taste in a setting that isn’t pretentious or intimidating. First, you and your favorite drinking buddies each bring a different bottle of wine to the table and conceal them in the drawstring bags that come with the game (so each person only knows the identity of the wine they brought). When it’s your turn to be “The Somm,” you pour each player a glass of your wine, and they take turns rolling dice to move through the halls of the wine cellar (i.e. the board). As they advance, they encounter locked doors that they must unlock by guessing qualities about the wine—like sight, acidity, and tannin level—which they keep track of on their scorecards.

There are also “Bottle Shock Cards,” which could help or hinder you on your journey; maybe your vineyard is tainted with smoke from a nearby wildfire, for example, and you have to hop back two spaces. The round ends when a player reaches the end of the board and correctly guesses the grape and country from which the wine came. After that, The Somm reveals the bottle and tallies up the points from all the scorecards.

The $49 game, available on Kickstarter, is expected to ship by November 2020 and even comes with a Zoom wine-tasting hosted by a Master Sommelier. And though you can definitely bring your own wine to your game night, the Sommify creators have partnered with Lifetime Vintage on two wine kits with unlabeled half-bottles of wine that are perfect for blind-tasting. It’s $75 for three half-bottles and $95 for four half-bottles, and you’ll get two $20-off coupons when you purchase the board game.

Learn more about Sommify here.