How Koozies Work
By John Hanksworth
Koozies (also known as can coolers) are great to have on a picnic, or when you're just sitting outside on a hot day. They keep your drinks colder for much longer. Koozies are a great invention, but have you ever stopped and thought about how they work? The simplicity of their design and its effectiveness is ingenious because it makes use of simple thermodynamic principals.
We all know that when you put very cold water in a room, and let it sit, it will gradually come to room temperature. The same effect is found when you place something very hot in a room (it will gradually cool off to room temperature). The reasons behind this lead us to understand how koozies work. It all has to do with the movement of atoms.
When something is hot, it is because the atoms are moving very fast inside of it. If something is very cold, the atoms are moving very slowly. In fact, when the temperature is at absolute zero, then there is no motion of atoms at all. When things are heated up, energy is being transferred from the source, to the object. This process is called conduction. This can be shown if you were to heat up a frying pan. Notice that at first the frying pan is at room temperature. Once the heat is turned on, it takes a bit, but the frying pan begins to cook your food. The entire frying pan will eventually become extremely hot. This is because of all the atoms moving very rapidly, and are becoming energized by smashing into one another. Once the heat is turned off, the frying pan is still very hot and takes a while to cool down.
So, how to koozies work then? The answer is very simple; they slow down the natural conduction by being a barrier between atoms. Foam works as a great barrier. Therefore, koozies are made of foam (or foam like substances) and encase the most of the outer surface area of a glass or can of cold liquid. This insulation works by utilizing two principals. First, the foam has plastic in it. This plastic is not a very good heat conductor. This means that the atoms don't accept energy from faster moving atoms as easily. The second principal is that the foam has room for air. This air that is trapped in the foam is an even worse heat conductor than the plastic. Combining these two effects, a koozie is an awful heat conductor, which means that whatever is inside it can hold its low temperature for a longer time.
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