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  #1  
Old 01-13-2013, 10:37 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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At what temperatures do eyes (surface fluid) and skin freeze?

See subject. The Cold Stare, the Icy Glance. I know we're mostly water.
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  #2  
Old 01-13-2013, 10:52 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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It's not just the ambient temperature; it's also wind-chill, which is highly relevant to frostbite, since as you say, we're mostly water.

I don't know if there is a specific number, but typically here in Canada, when the temperature and wind-chill drop below a certain point, the helpful little gnomes on CBC weather add, often in a gleeful tone of one safely ensconced in a nice warm broadcast booth, something like "And remember folks, at this wind chill, exposed flesh will freeze in 1 minute!"

I've never heard of eyes freezing, since the eyelids' blink reflex kicks in in bad weather, particularly cold wind. But if you keep your eyes closed too long, the tears might start freezing up, as the narrator of Sam McGee commented:

"If our eyes we closed,
Then the lashes froze,
Till sometimes we couldn't see."

Frostbite on the cheeks and fingers can happen very quickly, but hoods, scarves, balaclavas and good mittens/gloves are pretty effective. That "exposed flesh freezes" line usually means just that - completely exposed.

I've had frostbite on my cheek just from the wind and low temperatures.

I'm about to go out into -19 C to get the snowblower going; haven't heard if there's any wind chill, but it doesn't look like there's much wind.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 01-13-2013 at 10:56 AM..
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  #3  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:09 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Here's the NOAA chart. Imperial, not metric.


What it does not take into consideration is circulation/insulation below the skin. For example, the skin over cheekbones tends to freeze up more quickly than the skin further down on the cheeks.

One of my skiing goals is to make it to -100 F combined temp and wind-chill. Been very close, but not quite there yet.

Last edited by Muffin; 01-13-2013 at 11:12 AM..
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  #4  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:34 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Oh, and the other thing that the chart does not take into consideration is variation of sunlight.
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  #5  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:38 AM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
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Agreed with Muffin. Sunlight has a huge effect.

It can be -10 Celsius, and my wooden deck surface is +50 in the afternoon sun, dry as a bone. You can stand out on it in a T-shirt.

I knew it was warm, but I didn't realize how warm till I got a laser thermometer. Pointing that at the wood gave me those temperatures. Caveat: it is quite dry where I live.
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  #6  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:41 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Skin and tissue freeze at slightly below 32F or 0C, just like anything else comprised primarily of water. Getting to that temperature involves a lot of different factors.
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  #7  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:00 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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That is indeed a very subjective question. Are you going for a walk in a cold temperature? Walking with the wind, you'll probably be quite comfortable in your parka and headband. Walking against the wind, the hood comes up and your scarf goes over your face to prevent frostbite.

How fast are you walking? How long have you been walking? Once your body starts warming up from exercise, your heart is pumping faster and your skin gets warmer and you might even shed a layer of covering. If you're just standing and waiting for a bus, you'll probably want all exposed skin covered.

A funny thing that people who aren't used to the cold might not know about; when you've been out in the cold for a while, your face muscles slow down. You smile, and it takes a bit for your smile to come back down again.
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  #8  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:03 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
A funny thing that people who aren't used to the cold might not know about; when you've been out in the cold for a while, your face muscles slow down. You smile, and it takes a bit for your smile to come back down again.
And I always thought I was imagining that.
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:15 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
A funny thing that people who aren't used to the cold might not know about; when you've been out in the cold for a while, your face muscles slow down. You smile, and it takes a bit for your smile to come back down again.
Shhhhh! Mum's the word on that. We want them to keep on believing that Canadians are friendlier.
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:32 PM
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If you ask someone coming in from outside what the weather it like, you are entering frostbite territory when they reply "It's cold as fuck," as opposed to "It's cold." There's a lot to be said for observing what others are doing and how they are dressed, and then copying them.
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2013, 06:43 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
One of my skiing goals is to make it to -100 F combined temp and wind-chill. Been very close, but not quite there yet.
You're quite mad - you know that, don't you?
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  #12  
Old 01-13-2013, 07:19 PM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
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There is also a phenomenon known as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_reaction
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  #13  
Old 01-13-2013, 07:52 PM
AaronX AaronX is offline
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I heard some under ice swimmer's eyes froze when he was trying for a record. Has anyone heard of that?
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  #14  
Old 01-13-2013, 09:32 PM
Jenaroph Jenaroph is offline
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I know it's less than 10F when you walk outside and your boogers freeze.
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  #15  
Old 01-13-2013, 10:30 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronX View Post
I heard some under ice swimmer's eyes froze when he was trying for a record. Has anyone heard of that?
I doubt that an eyeball would freeze while a person is swimming. The front part of the eyeball is exposed to air that is far colder than liquid water without it freezing. Most of the eyeball is nicely protected and insulated inside the head. Just a few data points, but I have fished out quite a few people from ice-out water, and swum myself in those condiditons, and never came across a frozen eyeball. My best guess is that a person would seize up from hypothermia and drown long before an eyeball froze.

Last edited by Muffin; 01-13-2013 at 10:31 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:15 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Jeez. Now that's empirical evidence.
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  #17  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:30 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Let's look at it another way. An eyeball in liquid water would not be colder than liquid water, which would not be frozen, so the eyeball would not be frozen.
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  #18  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:36 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
Let's look at it another way. An eyeball in liquid water would not be colder than liquid water, which would not be frozen, so the eyeball would not be frozen.
Ocean water can be colder than 0C or 32F without freezing because of the salt content. I can't see a whole eyeball freezing, but maybe someone swimming in freezing cold ocean waters had their eyes freeze shut. Or perhaps they were talking about some other kind of balls.
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  #19  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:38 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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I expect that eyeballs have a greater salt content than seawater, but just a guess.
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  #20  
Old 01-13-2013, 11:39 PM
Nava Nava is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
I've never heard of eyes freezing, since the eyelids' blink reflex kicks in in bad weather, particularly cold wind. But if you keep your eyes closed too long, the tears might start freezing up, as the narrator of Sam McGee commented:

"If our eyes we closed,
Then the lashes froze,
Till sometimes we couldn't see."
I have heard of eyeballs freezing; apparently it's something polar workers and himalayists are used to taking into account and one of the reasons to keep your googles on (newbies tend to take them off because they mist up at first). It's pretty weird, hearing someone tell how they were climbing and, when they complained about the mist, their cordmates said "but... it's sunny! Oh SHIT, your eyeballs are freezing! We're going back now." Even weirder when the next sentence is "the other times my eyeballs started freezing I was able to recognize the symptoms right away and stave it off."
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  #21  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:00 AM
April R April R is offline
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
And I always thought I was imagining that.
It gives you much mouth too, and makes you sound really funny when you try to talk
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  #22  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:02 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
I have heard of eyeballs freezing; apparently it's something polar workers and himalayists are used to taking into account and one of the reasons to keep your googles on (newbies tend to take them off because they mist up at first). It's pretty weird, hearing someone tell how they were climbing and, when they complained about the mist, their cordmates said "but... it's sunny! Oh SHIT, your eyeballs are freezing! We're going back now." Even weirder when the next sentence is "the other times my eyeballs started freezing I was able to recognize the symptoms right away and stave it off."
Corneas freezing, yes, eyeballs, no, assuming that one would cover protect one's eyes upon noticing the corneas freezing up.
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  #23  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:15 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I expect that eyeballs have a greater salt content than seawater, but just a guess.
I don't either but I assumed the opposite. The salt content of blood is well below ocean levels. Tears seem salty, but I believe they're not really saltier than other body fluids, but I don't remember where I heard that. They do come from several glands near the eye though. This wiki link didn't help either. I think it would be difficult to concentrate salt in some part of the body like that. The salt would tend to migrate through the cells in the different layers of material that make up the eye.
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  #24  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:16 AM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
If you ask someone coming in from outside what the weather it like, you are entering frostbite territory when they reply "It's cold as fuck," as opposed to "It's cold." <snip>
That's what, about -25șC?

We should create a Canadian temperature scale.
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  #25  
Old 01-14-2013, 12:48 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Yup.
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  #26  
Old 01-14-2013, 08:37 AM
gallows fodder gallows fodder is offline
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Originally Posted by Jenaroph View Post
I know it's less than 10F when you walk outside and your boogers freeze.
Ha, I was going to say that. When I lived in an area that could get down to -35F in the winter, that was my metric, too: at ~0F, the inside of my nose freezes. Pretty handy poor man's thermometer.
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  #27  
Old 01-14-2013, 09:17 AM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is online now
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What is the salt content of tears and what temperature would water of that salinity freeze at?
What ambient temperature is the eyeball at considering there are no blood vessels in the cornea?
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  #28  
Old 01-16-2013, 07:39 AM
Xerxes Xerxes is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
We should create a Canadian temperature scale.
I was sent this one by a Canadian friend of mine

--------------------

The Official Canadian Temperature Conversion Chart:

50 Fahrenheit (10 C)
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
Canadians plant gardens.

35 Fahrenheit (1.6 C)
Italian Cars won't start
Canadians drive with the windows down

32 Fahrenheit (0 C)
American water freezes
Canadian water gets thicker.

0 Fahrenheit (-17..9 C)
New York City landlords finally turn on the heat.
Canadians have the last cookout of the season.

-60 Fahrenheit (-51 C)
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Canadian Girl Guides sell cookies door-to-door.

-109.9 Fahrenheit (-78.5 C)
Carbon dioxide freezes makes dry ice.
Canadians pull down their earflaps.

-173 Fahrenheit (-114 C)
Ethyl alcohol freezes.
Canadians get frustrated when they can't thaw the keg

-459.67 Fahrenheit (-273.15 C)
Absolute zero; all atomic motion stops.
Canadians start saying "cold, eh?"

-500 Fahrenheit (-295 C)
Hell freezes over.
The Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.
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  #29  
Old 01-16-2013, 07:47 AM
Anaglyph Anaglyph is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I expect that eyeballs have a greater salt content than seawater, but just a guess.
No, salt concentration in sea water is around 30 g/L, should freeze around -2° C
physiological salt concentration is around 9 g/L, should freeze around -0.7° C

Last edited by Anaglyph; 01-16-2013 at 07:51 AM.. Reason: added freezing points
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  #30  
Old 01-16-2013, 08:24 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaglyph View Post
No, salt concentration in sea water is around 30 g/L, should freeze around -2° C
physiological salt concentration is around 9 g/L, should freeze around -0.7° C
A good brine for protein is 50 g/L. So crying 5.5 times as hard--prepping super onions as CN agent?--and distillation may shorten kitchen time.

What is the maximum tear-exudation rate? Which, come to think of it, is in fact pertinent to OP (as opposed to this point, technically speaking).


For anyone interested, by far the best, longest, and scientifically (within reason) rich info on-line on brining are the Science Behind Brining text and video pages by the chef Jacob Burton.
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  #31  
Old 01-16-2013, 08:42 AM
FluffyBob FluffyBob is offline
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Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
...

A funny thing that people who aren't used to the cold might not know about; when you've been out in the cold for a while, your face muscles slow down. You smile, and it takes a bit for your smile to come back down again.
I have never noticed this. Ive done a lot of winter mountaineering, camped in very cold temperatures for weeks at a time and been on extremely windy ridges where exposed flesh would be in trouble in seconds, and framed houses in -35 (thats before windchill folks).

I guess I am always geared up in such weather and so dont get that kind of chill. Chilled muscle certainly does slow down and when I notice that it means it is time to take action. Have to watch out for that slow chill.

Or maybe I just do not smile enough.
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  #32  
Old 01-16-2013, 12:26 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by Anaglyph View Post
No, salt concentration in sea water is around 30 g/L, should freeze around -2° C
physiological salt concentration is around 9 g/L, should freeze around -0.7° C
Thanks!
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  #33  
Old 01-16-2013, 04:23 PM
August West August West is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
That's what, about -25șC?

We should create a Canadian temperature scale.
I believe the scale goes (from high to low)
  • Welldigger's ass
  • Witch's tit
  • Cold as fuck
  • Freezin' Ass

I played a rugby match when the advertised temp (with wind chill) was -74F (about -60C) and my eyelashes froze shut a couple of times. A couple of morons played with exposed skin on their legs and they were hospitalized for frostbite. The ref was useless because the first time he tried to blow his whistle it froze to his lips!
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  #34  
Old 01-20-2013, 03:40 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
You're quite mad - you know that, don't you?
Hey, a fellow has have goals!

Including wind chill, skiing today was -50 F. Needed a full coverage mask. One of the guys came back in to put a mask on after one run without. Didn't have frostbite, but was on the verge (white patches) after a two minute run.

Was wandering about in a light fleece sweater at -15 F (no wind) after skiing for about ten minutes bleeding off body heat. No need for skin protection at that temperature for a fairly short time. Wind chill (or lack thereof) makes all the difference in the world -- very important to never under-estimate it.
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