Why Can I See My Breath in Cold Weather?

 

It’s a chilly fall morning as you head outside to grab the mail, but wait… you can see your breath! That’s how you know winter is right around the corner and cold weather is coming. Have you ever wondered why you can see your breath in these chilly temperatures? It’s a simple answer: water.

While many attribute the visible breath solely to falling temperatures, the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is just as important. The perfect combination of temperature and humidity is actually the cause of the age-old phenomenon.

The Science Behind It All


The human body is made up of nearly 70 percent water, which causes the air in our lungs to be almost completely saturated in water vapor, which is water in its gas form. This water vapor is the same temperature as our bodies, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air, which is often why cold winter days feel so dry and hot summer days are thick with humidity

When you exhale a breath filled with the warm air from your lungs, it enters the cold atmosphere of a winter day. The cold air immediately lowers the temperature of our breath and briefly reaches a dew point. A dew point is the exact temperature the air needs to be at to achieve humidity.

 

Air cannot hold water vapor at dew point, causing the gas to turn to liquid form, or water vapor to water. This is the process of condensation and what makes up that little foggy cloud we see in the cold. The transformation of gas to liquid creates miniscule water droplets visible to the human eye.

This is a great way to visualize exactly how far things travel when you’re simply breathing and speaking. These tiny water molecules in your breath spread just as easily in every type of weather. All the more reason to wear a mask to prevent spreading germs!

Just How Cold Does it Have to Be?

There is no exact temperature in which condensation is guaranteed to occur. As we know, the relative humidity in the air is a contributing environmental factor that goes into the equation of visible breath. However, when the temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see your breath.

 

 

 

Now the next time you see your breath on a cold day, you’ll know you’re seeing the process of condensation in action.

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How to Stay Hydrated During Cold Winter Months

 

When the weather outside gets chilly, a tall glass of ice-cold water doesn’t always sound appealing. But staying hydrated even as the winter cold creeps in is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That’s why we’re here to ensure your water intake is up to par as the temperature continues to drop. 

 

Why does staying hydrated matter?

 

Staying hydrated is always important, no matter the season. Water helps your body function properly, but it becomes even more important as cold and flu season approaches, especially as we continue to face the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Drinking enough water can help boost your immune system to fight off illness during peak cold and flu months.

But that’s not all! Did you know that drinking water can actually increase your metabolism? We’ve all been known to indulge a little extra on holiday feasts, but staying hydrated can make you feel fuller, longer. This can help you maintain healthier eating habits throughout the holiday season.

How do I stay hydrated? 

 

The amount of water you need to drink a day varies per each individual. You can read more from Mayo Clinic to learn what goal is right for you. Once you’ve got a goal set, it’s time to get hydrating.

Not staying hydrated due to an aversion to cold water on chilly days is no excuse. Hot beverages can keep you hydrated, too! Try drinking a nice, hot cup of green tea, or heat up water with some lemon or honey to satisfy your craving for warmth while still consuming enough water. 

Did you know some foods contain enough water to help you reach your daily intake goal? Fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, watermelon, and celery are almost entirely made up of good old H2O. Cucumbers even contain 96.7 percent water!

 

It’s also important to avoid dehydrating beverages just as much as consuming hydrating ones. Too much alcohol, soda, or coffee can dehydrate your body, so limiting those beverages can help you stay on track to hit your hydration goals.

 

More hydration tips

 

Achieving a goal is always a great feeling. Try using one of these tracking water bottles or apps to motivate you to stay hydrated all winter long. Another helpful tip is to use a humidifier to add moisture to dry winter air. This will help you stay hydrated and avoid dry skin and scratchy throats at the same time. 

No matter how you do it, hydration is key to staying healthy as the weather gets colder. Now get drinking!

 

 

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The Science Behind a Frosty Lawn

As the weather gets increasingly colder, you may notice a sheen layer of frost coating the grass every morning. But what’s the science behind the winter-weather phenomenon? Let’s find out! 

What exactly is frost?

Frost is actually just water vapor in the air that has deposited itself as ice onto a surface—usually something close to the ground, such as grass. Water exists in three states: solid, liquid, and gas. Frost is the effect of water turning from a gas (water vapor) into a solid (ice). 

You’re probably familiar with the layer of dew that sometimes coats grass. Well, frost is just frozen dew!

 

 

 

How does it form?

Frost only forms on a surface when the temperature is below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A blade of grass actually loses energy by emitting a non-lethal form of radiation. After losing this energy, it absorbs energy from surrounding objects to replenish. When a blade of grass loses more energy than it gains, it becomes cold enough for the water vapor to cling on and form frost. 

Why do I only see it in the morning?

Not only does the temperature obviously drop overnight, but the lack of sunlight is actually what causes the grass to lose more energy than it gains. This sets off the process described above to create the frost that you see from your window in the early morning hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the effects?

While a light frost can look cool, it is actually quite harmful to grass. A blade of grass needs to keep the water moving through to the roots to stay alive and healthy. The frost freezes the water inside the blade, halting the process and causing damage to the cell walls. After several frosty mornings, the lawn may begin to show damage through yellow or brown patches and could eventually die. 

Luckily, you can take steps to protect your lawn from frost. Refrain from stepping on the frosty grass, try to mow the lawn later in the day when the temperature rises, and remove any unnecessary items from the yard that may cause shady areas. 

Essentially, that morning frost is the result of the perfect mixture of cold temperatures and energy transference. Next time you see a frosty morning, you’ll now know the science behind the scene!

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