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The Question of Whether to Wear White or Black on Hot Days, and the Science Behind It

It's sort of common knowledge that if it's hot outside, it would be better to wear thin and bright clothes than thick and dark ones because they wouldn't absorb too much of the heat from the sun. Rhett Allain did some experimenting to show exactly why though.

OK. Let's be clear. This black vs. white clothing isn't exactly a settled issue. People actually study this stuff—here is an article from Nature published in 1980: "Why do Bedouins wear black robes in hot deserts?".
There are clearly several situations to consider with the Bedouin clothing. But what about more common outfits, like a T-shirt? Should you wear a black or white T-shirt on a warm summer day?

In order to get data, Allain got an infrared camera and captured photos of various pieces of clothing with different colors to find out how much heat they absorb and how much light they emit or simply reflect. Check out the outcomes here.

(Image credit: Hao Ji/Unsplash)


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