Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Hot Water Bad For You?



Short answer

Drinking hot water can offer digestive benefits, such as improving bowel movements and stimulating digestion, when consumed at a safe, warm temperature. However, excessively hot water poses risks like scalding and esophageal damage. Moderation and ensuring the water is not too hot are key to harnessing its benefits without adverse effects. It's also essential to balance hot water consumption with a healthy lifestyle for optimal digestive health.



Long answer

The Impact of Hot Water on Digestive Health

When it comes to understanding the relationship between hot water and our digestive health, it's akin to piecing together a puzzle where both tradition and science have a say. Sipping on hot water has been a long-standing practice in many cultures, steeped in the belief that it aids digestion. Let's unravel this warm tale by looking at what research suggests and incorporating some practical tips into our daily routine.

Firstly, the temperature of water can indeed play a role in digestion. A study highlighted in the Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that warm water might help accelerate gastric emptying. That is to say, drinking hot water could potentially help move food more smoothly through your stomach, easing symptoms of indigestion or bloating. However, 'hot' here is comfortably warm and not scalding, as extremely hot beverages might cause damage to your esophagus or lead to other digestive troubles.

Moreover, hydration is a cornerstone of good digestion. Hot water, particularly when consumed before a meal, can contribute to a more efficient breakdown of fats and soluble fibers. This doesn't mean that hot water directly melts fat, as some myths suggest, but rather that adequate hydration helps our digestive system operate more efficiently. Warm water might also encourage the natural digestive process by stimulating blood flow to the intestines.

  • Increases hydration: Promoting overall digestive function.
  • Stimulates digestion: Warm water can trigger intestinal movements that aid digestion.
  • May soothe constipation: Regular consumption of warm water can help maintain bowel regularity.

Another aspect to consider is the soothing effect of hot water on the digestive tract. Anecdotal evidence often mentions the relief it provides for constipation. The warmth from the water can help relax the intestines, making it easier to pass stools. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology supports this, noting that warm water can indeed assist in alleviating constipation by improving bowel movements.

However, while there are benefits, it’s essential to approach hot water consumption with balance. Drinking it at a manageable, warm temperature rather than scalding hot is key to avoiding any adverse effects. Like anything, moderation is crucial. Too much hot water can lead to potential risks like diluting stomach acid excessively, which could impair digestion over time.

Incorporating hot water into your daily routine can be as simple as starting your day with a warm cup or having one before meals. This can not only aid digestion but also offer a moment of calm and mindfulness in your busy day.

Remember, while hot water can be a beneficial complement to your digestive health, it’s not a cure-all. A balanced diet, rich in fiber, adequate hydration, regular exercise, and stress management play more significant roles in maintaining healthy digestion. Listening to your body and consulting with healthcare professionals when necessary will always be your best guide.

Risks of Scalding and Esophageal Damage

Drinking hot water or consuming beverages at high temperatures is a common habit worldwide. However, it's essential to be aware of the potential risks this practice might carry, particularly scalding and esophageal damage. Understanding these risks can help us make informed decisions about our hot beverage consumption.

Scalding Risk: Scalding refers to burns caused by hot liquids or steam. Water at temperatures above 60°C (140°F) can cause scalding almost instantaneously. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology indicated that most scald burns are due to accidents involving overly hot beverages. These types of burns can be especially dangerous for children and the elderly, whose skin is more sensitive.

Preventive measures include:

  • Always checking the temperature before consumption.
  • Using cups with secure lids, especially around children.
  • Avoiding carrying hot liquids over long distances.

Esophageal Damage: Long-term consumption of very hot liquids can potentially harm the esophagus, increasing chances for esophageal damage or even cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified beverages consumed at temperatures above 65°C (149°F) as a possible carcinogen. A landmark study published in the International Journal of Cancer found a significant association between the temperature of tea consumed and esophageal cancer risk, particularly in areas where drinking very hot beverages is customary.

To minimize the risk of esophageal damage, consider the following tips:

  • Allowing hot beverages to cool down for a few minutes before drinking.
  • Opting for warm or lukewarm temperatures, especially if you have a history of esophageal disorders.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables to help protect the esophagus from damage.

In conclusion, while the comfort of a hot beverage is undeniable, being mindful of the temperature can help reduce the risks of scalding and esophageal damage. Integrating these precautionary measures into your daily routine can ensure you enjoy your hot drinks safely, without compromising on the pleasures of a warm cup in your hands.

Hot Water and Skin Health: Benefits and Concerns

When discussing skin health, the temperature of the water we use can play a crucial role. Hot water, often used for baths and showers, can have both positive and negative effects on our skin’s health. Balancing these effects is essential for maintaining vibrant, healthy skin. Let’s dive into the benefits and concerns of using hot water on our skin, supported by scientific research and expert opinions.

Benefits of Hot Water for Skin

  • Opens Pores: Hot water is effective at opening the pores on your skin, which can be beneficial for deeply cleaning the skin's surface, removing dirt, oil, and sweat that can clog pores. A study in the Journal of Dermatological Science suggests that thermal bathing can help improve skin condition by effectively cleansing the skin.
  • Enhances Blood Circulation: Soaking in hot water can improve blood circulation. Enhanced circulation brings more nutrients and oxygen to skin cells, promoting healthier skin growth and regeneration. Improved circulation can also aid in the effective removal of toxins from the skin, according to the American Journal of Physiology.
  • Relieves Muscle Tension: The warmth of hot water can help relax muscles, not only promoting overall relaxation but also potentially easing the tension from facial muscles, resulting in fewer wrinkles and a smoother appearance over time, as indicated in research published by the International Journal of Dermatology.

Concerns of Hot Water for Skin

  • Strips Natural Oils: Despite hot water’s cleansing benefits, dermatologists have warned that too much hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, irritation, and discomfort. The International Journal of Cosmetic Science advises moderation in water temperature to protect the skin’s integrity.
  • Aggravates Skin Conditions: For individuals with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or psoriasis, hot water can exacerbate symptoms by causing additional irritation and inflammation. This is supported by research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which emphasizes the need for individuals with sensitive skin to avoid excessively hot water.
  • Risk of Burns: A significant health concern with using hot water is the risk of burns. Water that is too hot can cause immediate damage to the skin, leading to burns that may require medical treatment. The Burns Journal notes that exposure to water temperatures above 120°F (48.8°C) can cause burns within minutes, highlighting the importance of monitoring water temperature closely.

In conclusion, while hot water has its advantages in terms of cleanliness and relaxation, it’s important to use it mindfully to avoid adverse effects on the skin. Balancing the temperature and duration of your exposure to hot water can help you enjoy its benefits without compromising your skin’s health. Always listen to your skin’s response and adjust your habits as necessary to maintain its health and vitality.

The Myth of Toxin Elimination Through Hot Water Consumption

One of the most pervasive myths in the wellness sphere is that drinking hot water can eliminate toxins from the body more effectively than its cooler counterpart. The reality, however, is more complex and nuanced. While hot water does have its unique benefits, the concept of it being a superior detoxifying agent lacks substantial scientific backing. Let's delve into the intricacies of this myth, breaking it down with a blend of scientific evidence and practical health advice.

Firstly, it's critical to understand what we mean by "toxins." In a general health context, toxins can refer to anything from pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, to byproducts of metabolism in the body. The body has a sophisticated system involving the liver, kidneys, digestive system, skin, and lungs to eliminate these substances. The efficiency of these organs does not significantly depend on the temperature of the water we consume.

According to a review by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the primary methods our bodies eliminate toxins include processing them for safe removal through the liver and excreting them through urine, feces, breath, and sweat. Hydration is crucial for these processes, but the temperature of the water is not specifically highlighted as a factor that enhances toxin elimination.

In exploring the myth further, proponents of hot water detoxification often cite that hot water can improve digestion and circulation, thereby aiding the detoxifying process. While it's true that warm beverages can have a soothing effect on the digestive system, and may slightly improve circulation, it's a leap to assume that these effects directly translate into enhanced detoxification. Scientifically, whether water is consumed hot or cold, it supports bodily functions by keeping us hydrated, but there is no direct evidence that hot water speeds up the removal of toxins.

It's also worth noting that excessive consumption of very hot water can pose health risks. Drinking water that's too hot can damage the tissue in the esophagus, lead to burns in the mouth, and even exacerbate conditions like esophagitis. The World Health Organization advises against consuming beverages at temperatures above 65°C (149°F) due to the risk of esophageal cancer associated with very hot drinks.

So, where does this leave us? Staying hydrated is essential for health and can support the body's natural detoxification systems. But when it comes to the temperature of the water, personal preference should guide your choice. Whether you prefer hot, warm, or cold water, the key is to ensure you're drinking enough to support your body's needs. Instead of focusing on hot water as a detox miracle, aim for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, which will naturally support your body's ability to detoxify itself.

Remember, health is more about the harmony of practices you engage in daily rather than a single habit or myth. Embrace water in all its forms as part of a holistic approach to wellness that includes a nutritious diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and adequate sleep. These elements combined will do far more for your body's ability to detoxify than hot water alone ever could.

Drinking Hot Water vs. Cold Water: Hydration and Metabolism

When it comes to hydration and its effects on metabolism, the temperature of the water we drink might have more of an impact than we previously thought. It's a fascinating subject that intertwines with not just physical health, but also our daily routines and preferences. Let's dive into how both hot and cold water can play distinct roles in our body's state of hydration and metabolic rate.

Hydration: Hot Water vs. Cold Water

The primary goal of drinking water, hot or cold, is hydration. Adequate hydration is crucial for maintaining essential bodily functions, including regulating body temperature, keeping joints lubricated, and ensuring organs function properly. While there is a common belief that cold water is more refreshing and hence more effective at quenching thirst, the reality is that both hot and cold water are equally effective in terms of hydration. However, the temperature of the water might affect the speed at which the body absorbs it. Cold water is absorbed slightly faster by the body than warm or hot water, potentially making it a slightly better option for rehydration after intense physical activity.

Metabolism: A Warm Perspective

Drinking hot water has been suggested to have a beneficial effect on the body's metabolism. According to a small study, drinking 500ml of water can increase metabolic rate by about 30% for up to 30-40 minutes, regardless of the water temperature. However, some anecdotal evidence and traditional beliefs suggest that hot water could further stimulate metabolism due to its thermal effect on the body. The idea is that the body expends energy to cool down the hot water to body temperature, thus potentially increasing calorie burn slightly. While the effect may be minimal, incorporating hot water into your diet, especially first thing in the morning or before meals, might gently boost your metabolic rate.

Personal Comfort and Digestion

Beyond hydration and metabolic rate, the temperature of the water we drink can also affect our comfort and digestion. Hot water is often said to be soothing and can help with relaxation. For some, drinking hot water can aid in digestion and improve bowel movements, making it a comforting ritual after meals. Conversely, cold water is frequently chosen for its refreshing qualities, particularly after exercise or in hot weather, to rapidly reduce body temperature.


Ultimately, whether you choose to drink hot or cold water, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Both temperatures offer benefits, and personal preference should guide your choice. Listening to your body and understanding its needs can help you decide the best way to incorporate water into your daily routine, supporting not just your physical health but your overall well-being.

Safe Temperatures for Drinking Hot Water

When it comes to enjoying a comforting cup of hot water, whether it's for a morning ritual or a nighttime wind-down, knowing the safe temperatures is essential not just for enjoying the drink but also for protecting your health. Drinking hot water has a multitude of benefits, from aiding digestion to soothing sore throats, but when is hot too hot?

Research has shed light on the optimum temperatures for hot beverages to ensure safety and maximize enjoyment. According to studies, including one published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the ideal temperature for drinking hot beverages is below 60°C (140°F). Once the temperature of the water exceeds this threshold, it may pose a risk to the sensitive tissues in the throat and esophagus, potentially increasing the risk of thermal injuries or even esophageal cancer over long-term exposure. As a guideline, maintaining water temperature within the range of 50°C-60°C (122°F-140°F) is recommended for safe consumption.

To ensure you’re drinking your hot water at a safe temperature, consider the following practical tips:

  • Use a Thermometer: A kitchen or beverage thermometer can precisely tell you the temperature of your water.
  • Wait After Boiling: If you don’t have a thermometer, a good rule of thumb is to wait 3-5 minutes after boiling before consuming. This time allows the temperature to drop into a safer range.
  • Observe the Steam: Another simple method is to observe the steam. Less steam generally indicates a cooler, safer temperature for consumption.
  • Trust Your Senses: Finally, trust your senses. If it’s too hot for your lips or tongue, it's likely too hot for your throat and esophagus.

Remember, the enjoyment of a hot beverage should not compromise your health. By keeping hot water within these recommended safe temperatures, you can continue to relish the benefits and warmth it offers, ensuring that your comforting ritual remains a healthy habit. Additionally, integrating these mindful practices can serve not only in preserving your physical well-being but also in enhancing your daily routine with a mindful and soothing experience.

Frequently asked questions

Regular consumption of hot water is generally safe if it's at a comfortable drinking temperature. However, excessively hot water can lead to scalding, damage to the esophagus, and even increase the risk of certain types of cancer if consumed at very high temperatures over a long period. It's important to enjoy hot water at a safe, warm temperature and avoid it being too hot.

While hot water can help open pores and cleanse the skin, using it at a very hot temperature can strip the skin of essential oils, leading to dryness and irritation. It's beneficial for skin health to use warm water for cleansing while ensuring it's not too hot to prevent damaging the skin barrier.

Both hot and cold water effectively hydrate the body. However, cold water is absorbed slightly faster by the body than warm or hot water. Despite this, the difference in absorption rate is minimal, so personal preference should guide your choice of water temperature for staying hydrated.

Drinking a cup of warm water in the morning can kickstart your digestion by stimulating blood flow to the intestines and encouraging bowel movements. Additionally, having warm water before meals helps in preparing your digestive system for food, improving the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.

Ask a question about Hot Water and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • temporary discomfort
  • scalding
  • digestive upset

Possible long-term side effects

  • esophageal damage
  • excessive dilution of stomach acid


  • aids digestion
  • increases hydration
  • stimulates digestion
  • may soothe constipation
  • opens pores
  • enhances blood circulation
  • relieves muscle tension

Healthier alternatives

  • lukewarm water
  • balanced diet
  • regular exercise

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 04-30-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 04-30-2024

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