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Obviously, the temperature of water does not affect its chemical composition. At least not in the ranges we are likely to drink it in. Yet it is clearly far more pleasant and refreshing to drink cool water than it is to drink tepid or warm water.

Is there actually any difference to the organism or is this just a matter of perception? Is cool water somehow more efficient at rehydrating a cell? In any case, surely by the time water reaches individual cells it will have warmed up to body temperature.

So, what, if any, is the difference between drinking cool and warm water in terms of its effect on the human (or other animal) body?

Extra bonus for explaining why the taste of water changes when it is cold.

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Not to make a chatty comment, but I have always wanted to ask this on here. –  jonsca Jan 23 '13 at 22:55
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However, on a hot day an hot drink will make you less thirsty than a cold one. –  nico Jan 24 '13 at 18:19
    
Care to elaborate @nico? Are you saying that having a drink will make you thirsty? –  terdon Jan 24 '13 at 18:38
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@terdon: no, I am saying that a hot drink will make you feel less thirsty on the long run. For instance we always bring hot tea when hiking in summer, even if it's quite hot. It's a matter of temperature difference, like having a hot shower in summer, you'll feel way more refreshed then after a cold one. –  nico Jan 24 '13 at 19:47
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@terdon: If your drink is cold, your body has to heat the drink up to body temperature. This consumes energy, which leads to a higher body temperature, which leads to sweating. The net fluid balance can probably be negative. :-) That's why desert natives drink hot sweet tea. –  Martin Schröder Jan 25 '13 at 18:09

2 Answers 2

Here's an armchair evolutionary explanation. In nature, running water tends to be cold whereas tepid water tends to be lukewarm. And for reasons having nothing to do with temperature, running water tends to contain less harmful bacteria. Therefore, our ancestors who preferred to drink cold water over lukewarm had an evolutionary advantage over those who preferred the opposite.

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I think it's because we are more often thirsty in a warm/hot/dry environment.
Since almost all of us have a house with a household furnace creating that warm/dry environment.

Thus cold water would be more refreshing since it also cools us off a bit.
I doubt that people that are on a north-pole expedition would still prefer that cold drink over a warm one.

This link contains a lot of information on this topic:
http://chestofbooks.com/health/nutrition/Dietetics-4/Temperature-And-Digestion.html

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