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Flipshod
01-31-2007, 09:19 AM
I realize that the sweat glands are not part of the excretory system (or whatever it's called) and that the steamroom/sauna"flushing toxins" talk is not supported by science..

But how does that square with the clear smell of alcohol in sweat after an extended drinking session? Isn't that evidence of sweat removing alcohol (i.e. a toxin) from the body?

I'm trying to convince my steam room associate that he is not removing copius amounts of toxins from his system, but I can't get past the alcohol argument.

Any help/clarification would be appreciated

Flipshod
01-31-2007, 02:58 PM
Sorry, but Bump.

My post got to page two with ZERO responses. :(

I know it's not the most scintillating of questions, but surely someone out there can answer.

I've googled and searched past threads to no avail. I'd hate it if my ignorance were to go unchallenged, unfought, unnoticed(?).

CurtC
01-31-2007, 03:30 PM
I didn't know that you could smell alcohol in sweat after drinking. First, are you sure about that?

Joey P
01-31-2007, 03:51 PM
I didn't know that you could smell alcohol in sweat after drinking. First, are you sure about that?
Never had it happen to me, but I know of two people who had friends swear they could smell alcohol on their bodies* the next day (after showering the following morning).

*I say bodies becuase from what I heard, this wasn't a breath thing, the person smelled like alcohol.

FTR both of these people said that on the previous night they had ALOT to drink, and this coming from people that are heavy drinkers to begin with is saying alot.

Fear Itself
01-31-2007, 03:52 PM
*I say bodies becuase from what I heard, this wasn't a breath thing, the person smelled like alcohol.Why can't that be a breath thing?

Chronos
01-31-2007, 03:57 PM
I wasn't even aware that you could smell alcohol at all. Yes, some alcoholic beverages have a distinctive smell to them, but then there's also all the stories of someone spiking a drink with Everclear and the victim not realizing it.

Santo Rugger
01-31-2007, 03:59 PM
I've smelled it too, some people smell like a brewery, even after showering.

Joey P
01-31-2007, 04:02 PM
Why can't that be a breath thing?

I mean like the difference between B.O. and bad breath, you can usually tell where it's coming from.

Spoke
01-31-2007, 04:28 PM
According to this site (http://www.intox.com/about_alcohol.asp):A minute amount of alcohol escapes metabolism and is excreted unchanged in the breath, in the sweat and in urine.

This site says (http://www.utexas.edu/research/asrec/alcoholfacts.html):About 80-90% of ingested alcohol is metabolized (broken down) by the liver. The rest is excreted in the breath, urine, or sweat.

and this:
About 90% of ingested alcohol is eliminated by liver breakdown (to a chemical called acetaldehyde). Small amounts of alcohol itself are lost from the body through sweat, urine, and expired air. It is not possible to measure acetaldehyde in the blood or urine as an indicator of alcohol in the body, but it is possible to measure alcohol in sweat (sweat patches), urine (urinalysis), and air (breath analysis). The most accurate measure of blood alcohol content is through blood samples. The next most accurate is through breath analysis. Urinalysis is not very accurate, and sweat measurements are not accurate at all, giving only an indication that someone has used alcohol in the past several days.

I've noticed that next-day smell myself.

Common Tater
01-31-2007, 06:33 PM
About 2% of ingested alcohol is metabolized through the lungs, which is why and how "breathylyzers" work to a fairly high degree of accuracy.

Randy Seltzer
01-31-2007, 06:43 PM
Forgive me if I'm showing ignorance here (if I am, fight it!), but whenever I hear phrases like "clears the body of toxins"/"gets toxins out of your system", my crap-o-meter goes off.

I've yet to hear a good biological definition of these "toxins" everyone's talking about. The only toxin I know of is the kind secreted in the glands of poisonous snakes and spiders.

Am I missing something?

Flipshod
01-31-2007, 09:28 PM
I agree Randy, but if you sweat out alcohol, ain't that a toxin too? So you really can sweat out toxins. See?

(and thanks all for the reponses)

PS - could the smell be coming from the skin and be unrelated to the sweat??

Chronos
01-31-2007, 09:32 PM
The only toxin I know of is the kind secreted in the glands of poisonous snakes and spiders.

Am I missing something?Yeah, there's also the kind in pufferfish, and ptui-birds, and dart frogs, and Gila monsters, and bee stingers, and...

Oh, wait, that's not what you meant, is it?

Flipshod
01-31-2007, 09:48 PM
I wasn't even aware that you could smell alcohol at all.

For real? Don't tell me it's like natural gas and some regulatory body made producers ADD that alcohol smell to liquor, just so people wouldn't accidentally down a glass of Everclear after their morning run. ;)

groman
01-31-2007, 10:47 PM
I wasn't even aware that you could smell alcohol at all. Yes, some alcoholic beverages have a distinctive smell to them, but then there's also all the stories of someone spiking a drink with Everclear and the victim not realizing it.

... Do you not drink?

Pure ethanol has a very distinctive ethanoly smell. Just like isopropanol has a very distinctive isopropanoly smell.

From here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol)

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, is a flammable, colorless, slightly toxic chemical compound with a distinctive perfume-like odor, and is the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.

Now, you can spike a drink with Everclear and have somebody not realize it, especially if they are already drunk, but even if they are sober and are drinking a non-alcoholic beverage it can still be done - the alcohol concentration will have to be pretty low though < 8% or so.

Chronos
01-31-2007, 11:46 PM
... Do you not drink? In fact, I don't, nor do I often hang out in situations where alcohol is in abundance. And when I am around alcohol, it's usually wine, which mostly (in my experience) has a fruity or acetic scent. I had thought I had heard somewhere that ethanol itself is odorless, and just usually found in conjunction with distinctively-scented chemicals, but I might very well be mistaken on that.

AskNott
01-31-2007, 11:48 PM
An old friend, who was himself a serious alky, was a cab driver for a while. He claimed he could smell the ketones from a drunk who had been on a bender for a coupla days.

alice_in_wonderland
02-01-2007, 12:00 AM
Never had it happen to me, but I know of two people who had friends swear they could smell alcohol on their bodies* the next day (after showering the following morning).

I used to live with a guy that was a heavy drinker. When he'd been out on a bender I had to sleep on the sofa because the smell the next morning was so strong - literally gag inducing. And I smoked 2 packs a day at that point - I can't imagine what it would have been like if I hadn't been smoking.

It was he body for sure - he could shower and I could smell his arm and still smell it on it - disgusting.

si_blakely
02-01-2007, 02:31 AM
That day after smell is probably acetaldehyde - one of the byproducts of alcohol metabolism. As people have noted, alcohol does have a smell, but it is more mild than acetaldehyde, which has a fruity smell. And it is a toxin. The next step in the alcoholic pathway is acetic acid - vinegar. Also a sharp (sour) odour. There are other metabolites, including ketone with a distinctive sweet, fruity odour as well.

Plus the distinctive smell of alcoholic beverages (particularly spirits) is far more related to the aromatics produced by the distilling process than to the alcohol itself. That is why Everclear (basically water and alcohol) is less noticeable as a spike than other spirits. And those aromatics may not be processed by the body particularly well, and so water soluble compounds can end up in sweat, and a small concentration can be smelt (as they are aromatics).

So - large liquid intake, alcohol metabolic byproducts, aromatics, alcoholic disruption of thermoregulation (causing sweats), bacterial action plus steamroom = noticable post-alcoholic fug

Si

Flipshod
02-01-2007, 08:24 AM
So it sounds like the straight dope is that sweating DOES, in fact, flush toxins out of your system. At least some. Are there other examples? Or is alcohol the only one?

(And I'm presuming that if these metabolic by-products are coming out in sweat that it would be a GOOD thing to induce sweating to get rid of them, right ?)

Fear Itself
02-01-2007, 08:47 AM
So it sounds like the straight dope is that sweating DOES, in fact, flush toxins out of your system. At least some. Still an over-simplification. The fact that alcohol or its metabolytes are present in sweat does not equal "flush[ing] toxins out of your system" The vast majority of these substances are eliminated through urine.

si_blakely
02-01-2007, 09:02 AM
So it sounds like the straight dope is that sweating DOES, in fact, flush toxins out of your system. At least some. Are there other examples? Or is alcohol the only one?

(And I'm presuming that if these metabolic by-products are coming out in sweat that it would be a GOOD thing to induce sweating to get rid of them, right ?)Flushing out is too strong a term for it. Your body is mostly water, with a circulatory system. So water soluble toxins end up all through your body (ionic strength, cell walls etc notwithstanding). Some of that water is used for sweating, lots more makes up the plasma that keeps your blood flowing, distributing those toxins to the brain and causing hangover symptoms. It also carries it to the liver, where further metabolic processing occurs, and your kidneys, which are designed to excrete the leftover waste. So sweating is a very minor part of the process, and toxin removal via sweat is incidental, in the same way that alcohol and metabolites escape the body via the lungs, but the lungs do not flush out alcohol from your system.

Drinking plenty of water does help, though (to replace lost fluids, dilute the metabolites, and help your kidneys), and sweating in a steam room probably promotes that. Also, the steam room gives you time to let your body finish the cleanup work. But the normal internal processes do the real work of processing toxins, and the steam room just makes you feel better.

Si

Joey P
02-01-2007, 09:23 AM
I used to live with a guy that was a heavy drinker. When he'd been out on a bender I had to sleep on the sofa because the smell the next morning was so strong - literally gag inducing. And I smoked 2 packs a day at that point - I can't imagine what it would have been like if I hadn't been smoking.

It was he body for sure - he could shower and I could smell his arm and still smell it on it - disgusting.
Thank you,
When I saw a quote from me pop up as I was scrolling I assumed it was someone not beleiving my pseudo FOAF story (the friends are real, but the people who did the smelling where FOAFs)

Flipshod
02-01-2007, 12:12 PM
... sweating is a very minor part of the process, and toxin removal via sweat is incidental, in the same way that alcohol and metabolites escape the body via the lungs, but the lungs do not flush out alcohol from your system.



Thanks. I think this is my best argument. (See OP, I'm trying to argue that sweating DOES NOT flush out toxins.)

So, water soluble toxins are in your sweat, and may even be oderiforous, but intentional sweating only gets rid of a miniscule portion when compared to the normal excretory system.

You flush more toxins down the toilet than you flush in the steamroom. (which when put like that, kinda makes me glad we're not all sloughing off real toxins in the steam room--"hey buddy, keep your toxins over in your area.")

St. Urho
02-01-2007, 12:39 PM
An old friend, who was himself a serious alky, was a cab driver for a while. He claimed he could smell the ketones from a drunk who had been on a bender for a coupla days.

It's possible. Ketotic breath (fruity, with acetone smell) (http://www.emedicine.com/EMERG/topic135.htm) is a well-known sign of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. AFAIK, someone in Alcoholic Ketoacidosis (http://www.emedicine.com/EMERG/topic21.htm) would present the same way. However, this wouldn't include all heavy drinkers, by any means.

WhyNot
02-01-2007, 12:46 PM
Thanks. I think this is my best argument. (See OP, I'm trying to argue that sweating DOES NOT flush out toxins.)

So, water soluble toxins are in your sweat, and may even be oderiforous, but intentional sweating only gets rid of a miniscule portion when compared to the normal excretory system.

You flush more toxins down the toilet than you flush in the steamroom. (which when put like that, kinda makes me glad we're not all sloughing off real toxins in the steam room--"hey buddy, keep your toxins over in your area.")
I think a more interesting question is whether or not sweating (in a sauna or similar) can increase the level of toxins in sweat, or if it's just one of those things that your body does but can't be made more efficient. That is, if the metabolites of alcohol are released at X rate in the sweat, can you increase that to X2, or even X+1, by sweating more, or not?

I have no answer, only questions. My general response to those wishing to purge toxins is "Why do you think you're more toxic than your body can handle on its own?" I've never gotten a satisfactory answer in those not suffering from liver or kidney disease.

St. Urho, surely YOU have something to say on the subjects of saunas, right? ;)

si_blakely
02-01-2007, 01:28 PM
I think a more interesting question is whether or not sweating (in a sauna or similar) can increase the level of toxins in sweat, or if it's just one of those things that your body does but can't be made more efficient.No, cause the body does not do anything to put those toxins in the sweat - they are just there in the water used to make the sweat - if you sweat more, you'll sweat out a bit more, but only in proportion to your sweating. And you only sweat out a fraction of the toxins and you can't sweat too much - cause you die.

Alcohol is processed by the body at a constant rate - ~25ml per hour. But the metabolites are processed slower - thats why they hang about to give you a hangover for much longer that you are actually drunk.

Si

St. Urho
02-01-2007, 02:27 PM
St. Urho, surely YOU have something to say on the subjects of saunas, right? ;)

Sauna-use is strongly correlated with alcohol use, so I have no good answer to that. :D

Baffle
02-02-2007, 07:47 PM
What explains the pungent body odour one experiences after eating spicy foods like garlic or curry?

TheLoadedDog
02-02-2007, 08:05 PM
My mother claims that about forty years ago my dad went on a heavy session of drinking red wine for several days, it was summertime, and he turned the bed linen a light pink where he had sweated into it.

I don't like to ask my elderly father for confirmation of this, but I'll take my mum's word on it.