My kids are always asking random questions such as “who would win a fight between a tiger and a lion? What about a crocodile and a shark?” Or “how long can you survive in the desert without water?” Yesterday it was “Dad, if you were stranded in the cold could you eat snow to survive?” Hmmm, interesting question I thought. So what’s the answer?
In short, you could try but it probably isn’t the best strategy to employ. And why is that? Well, because snow is so cold, once consumed it decreases your core temperature which in turn ‘forces’ your body to increase its metabolic rate (meaning, basically, the amount of energy it uses) to try to keep you warm. In other words, relatively speaking, you trade high levels of energy for not as much in return.
A better option would be to try to melt the ice into water – which wouldn’t be as cold for your body - e.g. over a fire or by packing it in a container and warming it inside your clothes. Of course, if you were in freezing conditions then this might be easier said than done. So, if that wasn’t possible, probably the next best thing to do would be to suck on the ice because – compared to eating snow – it would have, and you would be able to extract, more water for the same volume.
One final word – even if you’re not in a survival situation - snow can contain ‘dust from the sky’ and other pollutants (as can water from brooks and streams) which may not always be particularly healthy so do bear that in mind before letting your kids scoff too much snow next winter!
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The author originally published this article here: http://healthmad.com/children/should-you-eat-snow-in-a-survival-situation/