Stirring Is The Last Thing You Should Do When Trying To Cool Down Hot Liquids

There's nothing better than warming your hands and belly up with a hot wintry beverage on a cool day — whether it's a brewed coffee, a pumpkin spice latte, or your favorite tea. However, getting cozy with a hot drink sometimes leads to a situation we're unfortunately all too familiar with: burning your tongue when trying to take a sip too soon. To avoid this, it's a good idea to learn how to quickly cool things down to an enjoyable level.

Stirring may be a natural impulse, but it isn't actually that effective when it comes to cooling down hot drinks or other liquids. According to New Scientist, stirring does accelerate the natural process of convection, in which the hottest liquid circulates from the bottom and middle of a container to the surface, where it then loses its heat to the air. So, technically, it does lower the temperature of your beverage — but only slightly. In fact, stirring for 10 minutes straight will only drop the drink's temperature by a couple of degrees. That's a lot of work for a pretty small result that will happen without your intervention, anyway.

Meanwhile, the act of stirring adds a minimal amount of heat by way of kinetic energy, defined by Brittanica as the energy of motion. But, since the hot liquid already has a lot of energy (as evidenced by its heat), it won't add a noticeable amount of warmth — unless, as New Scientist notes, you were to stir so fast that the drink would splatter anyway. So, that leaves us with a big question: What is the best way to cool down hot liquids?

The best ways to cool down liquids

One of the best ways to cool down a hot drink or other solution, like soup, is to add some cold liquid to it. For example, if you take your tea or coffee with milk, then it should be safe to drink once you've added in that straight-from-the-fridge dairy goodness. If you don't use milk, then you can instead add a splash of cold water — just enough to cool down the drink, but not so much that it dilutes the taste.

Another easy method is to grab a spoon and use it to lift a little bit of liquid in and out of your hot drink a few times over. The metal spoon quickly heats up while in the drink, only to rapidly cool down as soon as it's removed, so this method takes heat from the overall drink a bit faster than stirring. You can also try transferring your hot liquid to another cup, then back into the original cup; repeat this a few times before trying to take a sip.

Additionally, if you buy your coffee or tea at a coffee shop and need it to cool faster without being able to do any of the methods listed above, simply take off the lid to speed up the cooling process a little. This allows the drink's heat to freely rise to the surface and dissipate, which then cools down your beverage. The same thing goes when you're waiting for that hot pot of soup to cool — just pop off the lid. You'll still have to wait, but not nearly as long.