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A cooling apron for those hot days of summer cooking

So, as a project for a class, we were compelled to find an idea to solve another student's problem. The problem I chose related to keeping cool while cooking in a hot kitchen. As a personal residence, many of the options available for commercial kitchens, i.e. heavy-duty HVAC and exhaust fans, are relatively impractical. As such, I began thinking towards cooling the cook, rather than the kitchen. This led me to ponder how my brother, a solider, keeps cool in the Middle East while wearing full combat fatigues and a bullet proof vest. The answer there lies in cooling vests worn as close to the body as possible. Many of these cooling packs contain organic fluids which only cool to between 50 and 60 degrees (for comfort's sake). Additional online roaming gleaned stories relating to the detrimental effects experienced by professional male cooks due to their prolonged proximity to hot stoves at waist level. As a means of alleviating the bane of cooks everywhere, I am thinking of combining one of the oldest pieces of kitchen attire, the lowly apron, with the relatively newer technology of cooling vests. Though aprons aren't necessarily worn around the core (one of the best areas to maximize overall body cooling), they are generally worn tight and are placed perfectly to deflect the heat coming directly off the stove. Modern cooling packs are light and compact, therefore the addition of cooling packs into the apron would add undue weight and bulk. I believe this could be a practical idea to help lessen the impact of "slaving over a hot stove." Any thoughts on improving the idea? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, how effective could it actually become?

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    Nov 15 2012: As active cooling systems are pretty expensive, you may also take a look at rechargable 'Phase Change Cooling Materials', such like this:

    http://www.coolvest.com/RPCM_Cooling_Vest/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

    As you apron is used for cooking, a 'food grade' classification should be considered, in case of coolant leakage.

    Good luck with your interesting idea and let us know when it's available!
    • Nov 16 2012: Thanks for the comment, Lejan. I'm glad you brought up the technology used in the RPCM cool vests, as that was material I had considered for the aprons. Those particular vests are nice because they can be effectively cooled to their lowest levels in a bucket of ice water. Additionally, that cooling material holds at 59 degrees, meaning the packs won't be uncomfortable to sensitive areas.

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