Keeping Warm in Winter

Over The Decades, we have watched many students come and go, both the young and the elderly, who had a tough time getting warm and staying warm in the winter, especially the international students.  This article is to say Thank you to and share some of The Wisdom of our Northern Elders who taught us many things in our early youth of how to survive in winter – Our Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers, Fathers,  and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Dr.’s, and Phys. Ed. Teachers! – Thank You! Thank you!

Warming Herbs to Cook With and/or Make Steeped Tea: Ginger, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper (Red), and Black Tea  – Grated Fresh Ginger – (powder if you’ve no access to fresh) is essential in cooking or tea for Keeping your Hara (Belly) and Bones warm.  Ginger is also a balancer for all other elements.  It is why sailors make homemade fresh ginger soda if on the water as it strengthens the stomach and keeps one’s balance strong, preventing any kind of nausea or seasickness. Cinnamon – is usually used with cooking in the a.m. but can be used anytime or even made with tea.  It is another blood, bone and body warmer.  When making oatmeal or other hot cereals. Cayenne Pepper (Red) – If you can handle a bit of hot spice, Red Cayenne Pepper, just a sprinkle is great raw over your plate of dinner or while cooking.  Cayenne is one of the spices that will draw heat from your body center out to the body’s extremities such as your nose, ears, hands and feet.  Vigorous exercise will also do this, if you don’t like cayenne pepper!  B3 is Niacin, though if used, only in minute amounts, especially at first, as it can cause the heart to palpitate….though, this vitamin can also, like cayenne pepper, draw heat into areas of the body where the blood has been stagnant or muscles have been dense and there is “stuck” energy or chi.

Black Teas – In general, even though Green teas have caffeine, they are “cooling” when it comes to body elements, and not warming.  Black teas, especially Aged Fermented Black Teas like “Purh” Tea have warming effects to the body.  And if you strain with hot water a few times before drinking, much caffeine can be removed. Here is a list of more “warming” foods:

Slowcooking – Slowcooking stews, soups, and casseroles, with covered oven dishes or pots, (we usuallyslowcook 4-12 hrs at 220 degrees – 24 hrs for chili) – with a Tblspoon of lemon juice or vinegar in the beginning, will draw out essential minerals such as blood-warming iron, from the Bones (if not vegetarian).  Otherwise, you are eating some minerals, but not all of them or the best and most essential of them).  The best for meats and fish are organic fresh wild game as they are devoid of pesticides and growth hormones (that are in general, strength, mineral and marrow stealers).  Always add grated or chopped ginger!

Several Types of Warming Wool! Thank you The Blessed Lambs and Sheep – Read The Labels! – We are amazed at the numbers of people who buy “winter” clothes and wonder why they are not still not warm.  LOOK and READ the tags on your clothing – both the ones you own and wear now, and the ones you buy in the future.  If any of the tags say “acrylic” or “polyester”, or other “non-natural material, in general, put them all into storage until spring or summer, as in the winter months, they are close to useless when it comes to staying warm. Instead, only wear clothes made of 100% Wool (Cashmere and Merino Wool are the is softest against the skin).  If the wool is not soft, you can soak the wool in baking soda and water and dry wrapped in towels.  The baking soda/water solution will soften the wool so it is not itchy against the skin.  If wool is too itchy for you, or if you have allergy to them, then find vests and other pieces that are wool inside of the padding.  There is another reason to better use natural materials rather than non-naturals and it is because they are very much slower to burn, if there was ever a flame around to have to deal with.  This is especially important for night/sleep clothing, but all clothing in general.

First Layer and Thermal Underwear: Layers, Layers, Layers – When dressing for winter, the FIRST LAYER is MOST  IMPORTANT as it traps a layer of air to the body, which is thermalized as you add other layers, and remains warm through the day.  If you have a loose sweater on as your first layer, the air simply will not be “trapped” and the cold air somehow still finds its way in.  Thus, undershirt and pants are a must.  The first layer should be wool, or even silk as silk draws moisture away.  But cotton is a cool fabric and it will trap cool air.  This is okay, though  in general, this is what you do not want.  There are thermal / merino or silk undershirts you find these days.  The more Layers of Clothing, the more layers of air you have trapped for staying warm – but the first one MUST be snug to the skin! Flannel-Lined  Jeans and Pants – can be found at Eddie Bauer’s Clothing, LLBean, and other outdoor outfitter stores.  Or, you can wear thermal underwear.  The best thermal underwear is made of soft Merino Wool (made to protect from –33 degree weather) and can be found at Capitol Iron or other outdoor outfitter stores.  Make sure the material is wool and NOT acrylic or polyester.

Mittens and Gloves – should be lined with wool and best if also water proof.  Mittens generally keep fingers and hands warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers huddled together, but if you need finger access for dexterity, then make sure the lining is wool.  Acrylic will freeze your little phalanges (fingers). Hats – the same – wool or down is best and the snugger the better as the snugness traps warm air to your head like thermal undershirts.  This is particularly important as an exposed head can lose a lot of valuable body heat.  And it is important to especially have ears covered from wind as wind there drops one’s immune system to be susceptible then to catching colds. Creepers – are great for preventing iceslips, especially for the elderly.  These are metal braids that are easily stretched over the bottom of boots.  They give boots treads if your boots do not already have treads.  Outfitter stores often have these.

Lambskins are a Blessing! (If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can always say Gratitude Prayers to Mother Earth for the life of the animal for helping you stay warm as She Loves All Creatures of the Earth – even us.  Lambskins  – sleeping on them, sitting on them or keeping them under your feet will greatly assist you in retaining your heat, especially those healing from injury or the elderly.  It is important NOT to wash them.  If you do, you must use very gentle soap.  It is better to just brush them with a wire brush and rub essential oils into them.  The Lanolin in the lambskin, or any animal for that matter,  is a key element to the retaining of heat of the body, and if you wash them with harsh soaps or too often, the lanolin will be stripped and they will not be as strong for retaining heat.  You can also rub beeswax into the underside to stop water from coming in.  This can especially be helpful if you are camping or living outdoors.   As much as some people do not want animals to be used for clothing, in the North, it has been essential for a very long time.

Animal Fur around the collars of Hoods, especially the long kind, is the only hood lining that will 100% protect the face from winter winds that cause frostbite.  We tested it!  Don’t chance frostbite in experimenting with this!  But be sure and Give Great Gratitude and Grace to Mother Earth and Her animals for the Blessing of protection from the elements.  We have tried many “non-fur” alternatives, and none of them protected us from frostbite like that the animal fur.  Thank you God and Mother Earth and these animals for Protecting us.  Down Feathers are another big positive for staying warm, but it must be kept dry or weather proofed, as when they are wet, they no  longer keep you warm, and will be very difficult to make it dry again. So make sure if your coat or vest is down feathered, or sleeping bag if outdoors, have a water protective coating.  Flannel Sheets for bed and/or Flannel Jammies are great!  And so are hot-water bottles at the feet under the sheets especially, before you go to bed.  Go to bed already warm! Warm up by taking jumping around, doing some jumping jacks, or dancing. If you wrap a frozen salmon in a sleeping bag, will it stay frozen? Yes, because your sleeping bag will insulate cold or heat, just like a Thermos.  Thus, you must be warm BEFORE you get into your bed.  In your emergency travel kit, especially if you have a car, you should have: Warm Buddies, Weather Proof Matches, and Warm Wool BlanketsWarm Buddies – are plastic hand-size packs you can reuse, with boiling water, and put them into your boots and mitts.  Canadian Tire and Home Hardware carries them.  They are also good to keep in your emergency car kit, in case you are stuck in winter snow somewhere. The other kind of Warm Buddy is a close friend or a pet.  When people huddle together, they stay warmer!  Body warmth, increased by the number of people, increases exponentially.  Ever go into a cold room at an event, and as the numbers of people enter, the temperature goes up and up?  It is the collective warm blooded people huddled together that drives the temperature up. Plastic on Windows and Door Weather Stripping – With a hair dryer and plastic and tape, you can dramatically reduce heat loss and drafts from your home.  Best to do BEFORE winter comes, but never too late.  Large rolls of this can be bought at the Home Depot or Hardware store.  Much less costly than the packages you can buy.  Also, weather stripping in crevices of doorways and leaky windows also greatly reduces loss of heat. Not only do these tips keep you warm, but they also save you lots of heat, electricity and money – especially over the long run.

Have a Great Winter – Stay Warm! Then, you can have Fun!  If you want to stay in on a cold winter day, you may want to play one of our Fun Learning Science Games!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *