Koozies stop condensation and keep your beer cold

Martin Cathrae/Flickr

Climate scientists at the University of Washington have made a big discovery in the beer-cooling department. But the truth is, all of us koozie lovers already knew this. In fact, a koozie will keep your beer (or other cold canned beverage) colder for longer.

What matters is why. Researchers studied how much water droplets (condensation) that collect on the outside of a beverage affect the temperature of the can.

The effect is tremendous. Droplet formation removes heat from the surrounding air and transfers it directly to the cold can.

The koozie stops these water droplets from accumulating and slows down the cooling process.

“Perhaps the most important thing for beer drinkers to do is not only insulate their cans, but also make sure that condensation doesn't form on the outside of the can,” said Dale Duran, a researcher at the University of Washington.

This is most important on humid days because the more moisture in the air, the more it will collect in the can. Humidity increases the warming effect of condensation.

“We found that in Phoenix, the temperature of the can increases by about 6 degrees Fahrenheit after about five minutes, while in New Orleans, we found that the temperature of the can increases by about 12 degrees Fahrenheit at the same temperature.” said researcher Dargan Fryerson. Washington explained to Inside Science (video below).

This research doesn't just apply to cold drink lovers. Duran isn't actually a cold drink scientist, he's a climate scientist. Understanding how water transfers heat is a very important part of atmospheric science. When water evaporates into the air, it takes heat away from the earth. That heat is released when the water condenses and falls as precipitation.

These water and heat cycles drive weather patterns around the world and are likely to change as the world warms.

The study was published in the April 2013 issue of Physics Today magazine. Inside Science recently interviewed researchers at the lab.

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