Does Black Clothing get Hotter in the Heat?
It’s summer. It’s hot. Very hot. How should I dress? Regardless of aesthetic issues, the color of the clothes you choose can help you feel more relaxed.
However, contrary to popular instinct and wisdom, white is not necessarily the best option. In general, the best option, according to science, is to wear loose, black clothes.
People think that white clothes are better because they reflect sunlight, while black ones absorb and transform it into heat.
But this notion does not take into account an essential factor: the fact that our bodies also generate heat. “We emit thermal energy. If we wear white clothes, the heat we emit bounces against the fabric and cannot get out,” says the scientist.
“However, if the fabric is black, it absorbs it. If there is the wind, it carries heat by convection (a process of heat transmission in which thermal energy propagates through the transport of matter), which is a mechanism efficient to keep us fresh. “
That, he adds, explains why Bedouins, accustomed to living in the scorching heat of the desert, have their bodies covered with a black blanket. “The key element in Bedouin clothing is that, in addition to being black, it stays loose. This causes the convection currents to create, which allow the body to expel heat more efficiently,” explains the professor.
Quirantes refers to a study from the 1980s widely cited and published in the scientific journal, Nature, in which researchers analyzed how the clothes worn by Bedouins influenced their body temperature.
The study contested the modern idea that dark clothing causes more heat.
But it is significant to note that if we change some factors, such as the presence or absence of wind, or if the clothing is full or tight, things change. If there is no wind and the person is going to wear a tight shirt, the best, in this case, is the white color, to counter the heat.
What about red, green, yellow, or blue? In fact, “we talk about black and white because they are the extremes” of the scale, says the physics professor.
“An object is white because it reflects all the light that hits it. Black, in contrast, absorbs everything and emits nothing. In the middle, there is a whole range of colors.” The darker the clothing, the more heat it will absorb and reflect less. And the clearer it will do precisely the opposite.