The internet has collectively recoiled from a Redditor’s account of their husband’s cursed pizza behavior.
To cool his pizza down quickly, user DaddyRavioli's husband rinses it with water. (Here's the video, if you dare.) While there are lots of reasons this sounds positively disgusting—mmm, soggy pizza crust with coagulated oil and grease—we couldn’t help but wonder if this pizza pioneer’s logic is actually sound.
Let’s just get something out of the way very quickly here: There’s no scientific reason to run water over your hot pizza. We couldn’t find any tangible benefit to the questionable act—and believe us, we spent a long time looking. This isn’t a hot dog eating contest, where dipping buns in water helps world champions swallow the dogs whole like unlikely omnivorous snakes.
The idea that cool running water helps keep adjacent things cold is indisputable. In the U.S., our use of springhouses dates back to at least the 18th century. These small buildings were put next to or even in rushing streams, and people began to store perishable foods inside because it was so much cooler than the surrounding air.
In a springhouse, the cool rushing water leeches heat from the materials of the structure, and that, in turn, cools the air inside. This is the same idea that cools your car engine, some computer hardware, and your local nuclear power plant.
So the heat transfer of running water is undeniable, but there has to be a less ... wet way to cool your pizza. If he insists, one very simple way the Redditor’s husband could still use water is to add a barrier, like a sheet of parchment paper. If he was really determined, he could seal hot pizza inside a Tupperware container and run cool water over the entire thing, creating a tiny pizza springhouse.
Yes, this sounds ridiculous. It’s still much better than putting pizza directly under the tap.
What’s wrong with good, old-fashioned air cooling? This is how most even high-performance personal computers stay in the cool zone, along with a legendary handful of cars. One of the U.S. Department of Defense’s new Advanced Reactor investments, in fact, is a nuclear reactor that can hypothetically be air cooled.
Letting hot food air cool, or even blowing on it to encourage transfer of heat, is a time-tested classic. As one friend of Pop Mech puts it, “You know another way to cool down food? The passage of time.”
This brings us to Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Cooling, which states that the rate of heat loss of your food or beverage—in this case, a piping hot pizza—is directly proportional to the difference in the temperature of the pizza and the room you're in.
To find the ideal temperature for eating a slice of pizza, the equation looks like this:
Q = h x A x (T(t) —Tenv) = h x A x T(t)
While these numbers are by no means exact, let’s say your pizza is served fresh out of the box at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature of your kitchen is 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is 99 degrees.
The last number you need is the half-life—the time it takes in any situation for the temperature to be divided by two—based on factors like the type of food and its possible container. For this situation, let’s say it’s 2 minutes. Now let’s do the math:
165 degrees - 66 degrees = 99 degrees
99 / 2 = 49.5
So, after two minutes, your coffee will be:
66 degrees + 49.5 = 115.5 degrees, a perfectly acceptable temperature for eating your pizza.
If you wait another two minutes ...
49.5 / 2 = 24.75
66 degrees + 24.75 = 90.75 degrees.
After 10 minutes, your pizza will cool down to approximately 69 degrees, right around room temperature.
To conclude, let’s consider a third, albeit controversial, path to cooler pizza. You may already be doing this, but you probably don’t realize it’s stupidly simple temperature science. Try this: Dip your pizza in something cool, like the midwestern classic ranch dressing or some leftover spaghetti sauce.
Even something from your pantry is cooler than fresh, hot pizza—maybe there are some surprises waiting in there. In my small town elementary school, for example, the trend was to slather the square cafeteria pizza in ... apple sauce.
Cold water adds nothing to your pizza but sogginess and coagulation. At the same time, we can’t deny it does physically cool down the pizza. If the wet pizza husband insists running water over his pizza still tastes good, then he probably wanted soggy pizza all along, which is confusing, but at least not a question of science.
For the rest of us, air is just better, unless you want to take the dive into some sauce out of the fridge.
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