Whether it’s an ice cube or a frozen lolly, most of us are familiar with the painful feeling that your tongue is stuck. Although you can often get free by applying some gentle heat or, in the case of an ice cube, even just waiting for it to melt, it can save you a lot of hassle and potential pain if you just learn how to avoid it in the first place!
As with a lot of things, the best way to avoid this awkward situation is to understand what makes it happen in the first place. We doubt that many of you have gone out with the intention of sticking your tongue to that bag of frozen peas (or flag pole if we’re living in the movies!)… so what causes it?
Well, it’s all down to science – and, more specifically, something called ‘thermal conductivity’, which causes heat to transfer from a relatively warm object to a colder one. In the case of your tongue getting stuck to frozen food, the ice is taking some of the heat away from it. In turn, this leaves you with frozen saliva, and that’s the culprit responsible for leaving you stuck!
So How Do I Avoid It?
The principle of thermal conduction shows that the exact temperature of the food in question is a highly relevant factor, so one option would be to allow it to warm up a little before you try and take a bite.
We also know that it’s the saliva that actually freezes, not the tongue itself, so if you can avoid producing too much then you may be able to limit the problem. Of course, not many of us are experts at timing when we salivate, especially when there’s some delicious looking food to enjoy.
Just remember that while getting your tongue stuck to frozen food is pretty rare and generally harmless, the same thing can also happen with metal surfaces… and that can have a far more serious impact. Hopefully it goes without saying that the best way to avoid getting your tongue stuck to anything worse than a snow cone is simply not to put it there in the first place!
Good luck using these great tips, and just remember that if your tongue does get stuck don’t panic – you can warm it up, wait for it to melt or get a friend to help you get free.