Keeping “Cool” The Weifang Way
I think people in Weifang are a bit mistaken about how to keep cool in the summer, which is remarkable since Weifang is often in the 90′s during June, July and August.
The Chinese here swap breathable materials, such as cotton, for unbreathable ones, such as bamboo.
My wife and I often go back and forth on this. She likes to put a bamboo pad on the chair. I like to put a cotton pad on the chair. She says, “Aren’t you hot sitting on that?” Usually, I’ve been sitting on the bamboo for about 30 minutes and finally get fed up with it sticking to my legs and swap it for the cotton, which doesn’t stick to me. If this isn’t empirical evidence, what is?
Her reasoning, I think, goes like this: cotton is used to keep warm. For example, it is often used in things like clothes, beadspreads and blankets. Bamboo, on the other hand, is not used to keep warm – think chairs, chopsticks and scaffolding. Therefore, the reasoning goes, sticking your bum on a cotton pad will make your bum hot, while sticking it on a bamboo pad will not make it hot.
Seems logical enough, right? Well, it’s logical in the same sort of way I didn’t quite grasp at the age of 6 that a blanket could keep a can of coke from the fridge cool just like it could keep me warm. Blanket = warm, blanket ≠ cool. That was my understanding as a six year-old.
Of course, cotton only really keeps something hot if it covers it. If your bum is not wrapped in the cotton—like meat on an openfaced sandwich—it’s not really being insulated. Furthermore, as I have already mentioned, cotton is breathable and water absorbant, in contrast to bamboo, which is neither breathable nor water absorbant. Thus, the pores in your bum sitting on a bamboo mat will be unable to breathe and the sweat that comes out of them will stick to you because the bamboo does not absorb it.
Great, just what I wanted in summer, a sweaty, sticky bum.China