PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We are getting into Summertime, and that means we are getting into the sweaty part of the year, thanks to the heat.
We are always told that sweating is the way our bodies cool off, but rarely is the science behind it given.
First of all, our bodies try to remain about 98.6°F.
When we heat up, moisture is released to cool us off — also known as sweat!
So we know the sweat is released to cool us off, but how does it do it?
It is a process known as evaporative or evaporational cooling.
Evaporation usually occurs because of heating, and that is important in understanding how it is used for cooling.
To get water, or in our case sweat, to evaporate, and element of heat is needed.
When the water evaporates, the heat energy is taken away because it is used to convert the liquid sweat into gas.
This process is what draws that heat away from your body.
You can easily feel evaporation happen if you put hand sanitizer on your hands then blow on it.
The alcohol in the sanitizer evaporates more effectively than water, so you can really feel evaporation’s cooling effect in action.
You can also get sweaty and step in front of a fan.
That will help kick the evaporation process into “high gear.”
You may notice when it is hot and humid, you get sweaty and stay sweaty.
That sweat also does not feel like it is cooling you off.
On muggy days, the evaporation process is more difficult.
Muggy days mean there is more moisture in the air.
When there is more moisture in the air, the moisture on you, the sweat, has a harder time evaporating.
Since it can’t evaporate well, you stay sweaty, hot and sticky.