Why Does Gum Make Water Cold? (Solved & Explained)

If you drink water after chewing gum, you may get hit with a blast of coldness in your mouth.

Why does gum make water cold?

Gum does not actually make water cold. Methanol, an ingredient in gum and mint, triggers a protein known as TRPM8 and a process called thermal illusion. Methanol makes your mouth feel cold and the water you drink seem colder. However, this is a mind trick and not an actual temperature change.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about, “Why does gum make water cold?”

Why Does Gum Make Water Colder? (Scientific Answer)

Blue mannequin with headphones and shades, blowing gum—Why Does Gum Make Water Cold
Image by the author via Canva—Why Does Gum Make Water Cold?

Gum makes water seem colder through multiple chemical processes in your mouth, brain, and nervous system.

These processes include:

  • Thermal illusion
  • TRPM8 activation
  • Methanol consumption

Thermal Illusion

Thermal illusion is an interesting phenomenon that can occur when we consume hot or cold foods and drinks.

When we eat or drink something that is very hot or cold, our body temperature receptors are stimulated.

These receptors send signals to the brain, which interprets the signals as a change in body temperature. However, the brain can only process a limited amount of information at one time.

As a result, it may take a few moments for the brain to realize that the body’s actual temperature has not changed.

In the meantime, we may experience a sensation of heat or cold that does not match the actual temperature of our body. This sensation is known as “thermal illusion.”

Thermal illusion can have a variety of effects on the body.

In some cases, it can cause us to feel hotter or cooler than we actually are. In other cases, it can make us feel more thirsty or less thirsty. And, it can even affect our sense of taste.

For example, if we eat something that is very cold, we may feel as though our mouth and throat are numb.

However, this sensation is not caused by a change in temperature; instead, it is caused by the stimulation of our temperature receptors.

Most of the time, thermal illusion is completely harmless. Your body should self-correct within a few seconds or minutes.

TRPM8

TRPM8 is a protein found in the cell membranes of neurons.

It is responsible for sensing changes in temperature and transmitting this information to the brain. When TRPM8 comes into contact with cold temperatures, it triggers a chain reaction that causes the neuron to fire.

This signal is then transmitted to the brain, where it is interpreted as a sensation of cold.

Interestingly, TRPM8 is also involved in thermal illusion, which is the perception that an object is colder or warmer.

This phenomenon sometimes occurs when TRPM8 is exposed to both warm and cold temperatures at the same time. The protein responds to the warm temperature by opening up, but it also responds to the cold temperature by closing down.

As a result, the warm temperature takes longer to reach the brain, giving the impression that the object is colder than it actually is in reality.

Thermal illusion plays an important role in our everyday lives.

For example, when we drink a cold beverage on a hot day, TRPM8 causes us to perceive the drink as being colder.

TRPM8 is also responsible for the cooling sensation we feel when we eat menthol or mint. In fact, many over-the-counter cold remedies contain menthol or mint extract to take advantage of TRPM8’s ability to create a sensation of cold.

Methanol

Mint gum contains the chemical methanol, which creates a cooling effect in your mouth and throat.

When methanol interacts with the TRPM8 receptor, it causes a thermal illusion, making you feel like the temperature is dropping. This “cooling” sensation is caused by the methanol tricking your body into thinking that it’s cold—when it’s actually not.

The result is a refreshing feeling that can help to cool you down on a hot day.

Does Gum Make Water Colder?

As we’ve seen, gum doesn’t really make the water any colder. It’s a sensory trick of your mind and body set off by methanol.

If you removed all of the gum and just consumed the chemical methanol, you’d likely experience the same effect.

And if you measured the temperature of the water, it wouldn’t be any colder before or after the gum. You think it’s colder because your body is playing magician with you.

What Happens When You Drink Water When Chewing Gum?

When you chew gum while drinking water, a few different things can happen.

First, you might accidentally swallow the gum. This is because the act of swallowing water can suck the gum down your throat. Additionally, the flavor of the gum can also change the flavor of the water.

The chemicals in the gum might release into the water, altering its taste.

Finally, chewing gum while drinking water can also make you bloated. Chewing gum causes you to swallow more air, which can lead to trapped gas and stomach discomfort.

Why Does Fruit Gum Make Water So Cold?

Fruit gum makes water so cold for the same reason other gum makes water seem so cold.

The reason has to do with the chemicals in the gum. Specifically, methanol.

When you chew gum, the methanol is released and binds to your taste receptors. This tricks your brain into thinking that the water is colder even though the temperature of the water has not changed.

Does All Gum Make Water Colder?

No, not all gum will make water cooler. Gum without methanol will not make your mouth feel cooler.

If you don’t like this icy cold sensation, simply don’t chew gum with this active ingredient. You could also not chew gum at all or not drink water after chewing gum.

FAQS Related to Why Does Gum Make Water Cold?

Here are answers to some of the most common questions people ask about gum and water.

Why Does Peppermint Make Water Colder?

As you probably guessed, peppermint and spearmint both contain methanol.

That’s why they also make water feel cooler after you chew gum or suck on a mint. The fact is that any candy, medicine, or other product laced with methanol will produce a similar effect.

What Does Chewing Gum and Drinking Water Mean?

If you hear somebody say the phrase, “chewing gum and drinking water,” they’re most likely referring to the cooling effect we’ve been discussing in this entire article.

For example, they might be talking about this video that illustrates what it feels like to drink water after chewing gum:

YouTube video by AnxiousJoe—Why Does Gum Make Water Cold?

What Does Gum and Water Mean on TikTok?

There are several TikToks with people chewing gum and drinking water.

It’s often a fun, entertaining video where people respond to the iceberg feeling in their mouths. For some people, the sensation is very intense.

Therefore, “gum and water” probably mean the person on TikTok is referring to this cooling sensation.

However, gum and water can also be used on TikTok to talk about losing weight.

When I searched for “gum and water” just a few moments ago, TikTok showed me with a message that read, “You’re not alone” and gave me links to National Eating Disorder resources.

Some people do try to chew gum and drink water as a way to eat less food and, therefore, lose weight.

Does Gum and Water Make You Lose Weight?

It’s possible that gum and water can help you lose weight.

Chewing gum occupies your mouth and drinking water is known to make you feel full and eat less.

However, the effectiveness of this weight loss strategy probably varies widely from person to person. There are so many other factors that might go into weight gain and weight loss.

Ultimately, if you can consume fewer calories than you burn in a day, you’re probably going to eventually lose some weight.

However, there are a lot of healthier ways to lose weight than simply relying on chewing gum and drinking water.

Gum and water might be an okay temporary solution.

However, for long-term weight loss and weight management, I’d recommend seeing a doctor and a licensed nutritionist.

They’ll be able to help you design a food plan that is specifically tailored to your body and situation.

Why Does Chewing Gum Get Harder When We Drink Water?

When you’re chewing gum, have you ever noticed that it gets harder when it comes into contact with water?

It’s not just your imagination—there is science behind this phenomenon.

Gum is made up of a polymer, which is a long chain of molecules. When the gum is chewed, the chains are broken apart, allowing the gum to be easily masticated. However, when water is introduced, the chains reform and the gum hardens.

This happens because the water molecules are attracted to the polymer chains, causing them to stick together.

The next time you’re enjoying a piece of gum, don’t be surprised if it gets a little harder to chew when you take a sip of water. And now you know the science behind it.

Final Thoughts: Why Does Gum Make Water Colder?

The “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read) is that mint gum is essentially a tiny, non-human David Copperfield performing illusions in your mouth.

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Sources

National Institue of Health
PLOS One Journal