Snow is a very useful resource, especially in skiing. When you are not dehydrated, you can eat snow without worrying about any serious risks.
So, does snow hydrate you? We’ll find the answer here.
While we can make the immediate connection between snow and freezing temperatures, we sometimes don’t associate snow with winter dehydration. When it is cold, we don’t sweat as much as we would in the hot weather. This tricks us into thinking snow hydrates us in cold weather.
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How Dehydration Works
For our body to function, the human body needs water. Water makes up 75% of the body. When our body loses water through sweat, breathing, and urinating, there’s a need to replenish our system.
When you don’t replace lost fluids, you start to show signs of severe dehydration. Regular consumption of drinking water keeps the body hydrated and replaces the water we lose.
What are the Signs of Dehydration
There are many different symptoms you can experience when your body doesn’t have sufficient water. Here is a quick look at the most common signs of dehydration in cold temperatures.
- Dark-colored urine
- Infrequent sweating or urination
- Dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Sugar cravings
- A feeling of confusion
How Much Water Should You Drink in Cold Climates
In winter weather, you might not need as much water as in hot weather. It should be noted that your need for water increases as your physical activity levels increase. On a day of skiing, you should drink at least two liters of water per day. And even if you are not out on a skiing adventure, it is still advisable to drink 6 – 8 glasses of water per day.
Does Snow Dehydrate You?
Yes, you can become dehydrated in extremely cold temperatures. It is very easy to become dehydrated. There are quite a few things that cause dehydration during cold months like the following.
Alterations in your thirst response
Out in the cold snow, the body’sresponse to thirstiness reduces by 40% – even when you’re dehydrated. To conserve heat, blood vessels constrict in the cold and blood stops flowing freely to your extremities.
However, the downside is that the body is tricked into believing it is properly hydrated when it isn’t. As a matter of fact, the opposite happens. Your body does not get the memo to drink more water and your kidneys do not receive the signal to conserve water.
So, you have a diminished thirst response and your kidney is producing more urine. Your body is taking out far more liquid than it is consuming, and this can lead to dehydration.
Cold weather clothing
Another reason you can easily become dehydrated in the snow is because of the extra clothes you wear. Additional layers of clothes make the body work 10 to 40% more due to the added weight of clothing which can cause you to sweat more.
Respiratory fluid loss
You alsolose fluids when you breathe, and sweat evaporates faster in the cold than in dry weather. Respiratory fluid loss happens all year round but it is more visible in cold temperatures because you can actually see the water vapors your body extrudes when you exhale. When you exercise in cold temperatures, your body also tends to release more fluids.
When you enjoy winter activities that involve a bit of effort, your body heats up and you perspire under the extra clothing layers. Some people sweat more than others when they enjoy physical activities, but everyone sweats at least a little bit when they move more. This is why it is so important to increase your water intake when you are out skiing.
Can You Chew on Snow as a Quick Fix for Dehydration?
If you think that ingesting some snow when you are out in the open will quickly increase your hydration levels, then do I have news for you – that’s just one of thosesurvival myths.
Yes, snow is essentially ice, which consists of water. But eating snow won’t rehydrate your body and can be dangerous to your health.
Apart from the obvious rules of avoiding yellow snow because it is dirty snow that contains impurities and waste products, snow that has fallen on the ground is not exactly clean either as it has also inevitably collected a lot of dirty particles.
Eating snow also lowers your core body temperature and can contribute to winter dehydration.
Why Does Snow Not Hydrate the Body?
Eating snow can cause several side effects to your body, such as hypothermia because snow lowers your core temperature and reduces body heat. This is because a lot of body energy is needed to warm up your internal organs again after consuming snow. The more energy your body uses, the more dehydrated you can become. Awareness and educating yourself on snow is important to avoid unnecessary health issues later on.
You cannot replace water with snow just because it’s readily available. Our cells need water to be in a liquid state for it to replenish our system, so the body must work harder to heat up and melt the snow.
One of the main reasons eating snow to rehydrate your body is a bad idea is because of volume differences. Water in snow form takes up a lot more volume. When you melt 1 liter of snow, you will be left with significantly less than 1 liter of water. This basically means that you will need to eat a lot of snow before you will become re-hydrated. While you are trying to consume enough water, your body temperature can drop dangerously low and you could even get hypothermia.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation with no water available in the liquid state, then it is best to take the time and melt snow so you can consume it in liquid form.
Safety while exploring the slopes cannot be overemphasized. As you pay attention to the more obvious causes of health issues and accidents while skiing or snowboarding, don’t forget to also pay attention to the less obvious ones.
Being out in the snow can indeed cause you to become dehydrated. While you’re out on the snow, take precautions by remaining properly hydrated. Happy skiing!
We hope that you enjoyed this guide and if you want other great health tips for your snowy adventures then you should have a look at some of the other guides we have onSnow Authorities. With our guides and product reviews, you can stay safe, healthy, and comfortable while enjoying these winter sports.