Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cold, Clear, Sparkling Water

What makes water appealing to drink? Can elementary math help? Let's see.

Which type of water is most appealing to you (select 1 of 3 answers below):
  1. A glass of luke-warm, 85° F rusty tap water, with a bit of chlorine odor?
  2. A bucket of greenish water with a few particles drifting (or swimming) around the bottom?
  3. A small trickle burping up out of a rusty fountain with greasy kid-prints on the push button?

NONE!  I'd rather go without!, you say? I completely agree with you.

I wondered why we tend to like water that is a bit colder or hotter than we are ... lukewarm or tepid aren't very nice, either for bathing, swimming, or drinking. Too cold is difficult - chattering or cracking our teeth - and too hot burns our tongues or scalds us.

I read that drinking cold water burns calories, as the body has to work to heat the water up. That sounds a bit fishy to me, but you can see here how people try to explain it with math. Other researchers suggest that beverages 10 degrees or less below room temperature are more platable, so we drink more. Of course they are not talking about plain water, but:

"Fluid replacement beverages that are sweetened (artificially or with sugars), flavored and cooled to between 59 and 70° F, should stimulate fluid intake."

Some studies show cooling a beverage will increase consumption between 40 and 80%.

Of course there are calories in sugar-sweetened water (and you get cavities from it, say dentists) or chemicals in artificially-sweetened waters.

Others say that drinking warm water relaxes the mouth and throat, making it a healthier choice. (Yawn).

As long as we are talking additives, here are some numbers that define salinity for you (salt in the water). The unit we are using is parts per million:
  • drinking water - 100 ppm
  • limit drinking water - 1000 ppm
  • limit for agriculture irrigation - 2000 ppm
  • sea water - 30,000 - 50,000 ppm
  • brine / slush > 50,000 ppm


Take out dirt, chemicals and colors. Make it clean and clear. There are many filter systems available - they fit in the garage, or under the sink, or on the counter, or in the refrigerator.

Sometimes water tastes "flat." Air dissolved in water occupies up to four times the space that carbon dioxide consumes, so get the air out of it first by boiling it.

Warm or room-temperature doesn’t taste very good. It doesn't carbonate well either - CO2 dissolves better as water temperature decreases - the closer to freezing the better. 

Mineral salts enhance flavor, which is why mineral waters work well with food, and they are more appealing internally as the correct salinity of water allows it to be integrated more easily into the body.

Carbonation means bubbles of CO2 - adding a tingle and sparkle in your mouth to fire up your sensory and olfactory systems. The bubbles help lift the aromas to your nose and up the back of your throat.

There are lots of things you can add to water, but more than a very small amount means it becomes a "flavored drink" or simply dilutes the other liquid (not always a bad thing).

I'm thirsty - it's off to the Excel Math water cooler for me!