Eating snow is very tempting. When you ski, you exercise, you sweat and you get dehydrated. Surrounded by all this solid water, it’s sometimes hard to resist. So, is it safe to drink snow?
When you ski, sometimes it happens that your water bottle is empty. And in case of extreme thirst, why not drink some snow? After all, it’s water in the solid phase. However, its phase transition has changed some of its chemical properties: its consumption can have harmful consequences for the human body. Of course, trying a few flakes once has never been a public health problem, but it should be avoided on a regular basis.
When water changes its phase and turns into snow, two main parameters change: the temperature of the liquid and the amount of minerals. Eating snow with a temperature of 0 °C can cause heat shock. The body loses heat (which should be avoided in the mountains), and acute diarrhea may occur. Therefore, it is better to melt the snow.
In addition, there is a demineralization of snow. Its filtration is natural, and without minerals it does not quench thirst. In itself, it is not harmful, but its use can lead to people wanting to consume more or other even less drinkable sources. The question of the effect of mineral substances in water on human health is the subject of numerous studies. According to WHO, consumption of demineralized water changes the body’s homeostasis. Homeostasis controls the balance of the environment, which in our body is expressed in maintaining body temperature, constant blood flow, etc. Studies have shown that in animals, demineralized water causes diuresis or can dilute electrolytes in the intestine and disrupt the functions of vital organs.
In the mountains, climbers had serious health problems due to the fact that during the expedition they ate only melted snow. In addition, brain edema or metabolic acidosis was observed in children, all of whose drinks were prepared only with demineralized water. Obviously, a lack of minerals can be very dangerous in the long run. Fresh water contains a large amount of calcium and magnesium, which are necessary for our body. Of course, water is not the only source of these minerals, but most diets do not cover their possible deficiency.
Drinking snow after it has melted, from time to time, should not have a noticeable effect on the body. Nevertheless, regular consumption should be avoided, and if there is no other choice, adding a small amount of salt to water or, for example, mixing it with soup will temporarily make up for the lack.