How hot is it?

July 21, 2011|By DON AINES |

Is it possible for it to be so hot that you can fry an egg on a sidewalk?

Scientists say no, but the crack research team at The Herald-Mail decided to put that old saying to the test Thursday afternoon.

During a 35-minute test period that ended at about 1:35 p.m., the temperature was in the mid-90s and the heat index exceeded 100 degrees.

In addition to trying to fry and scramble a couple of eggs, the newspaper attempted to melt a 10-pound bag of ice, chocolate bars, crayons and a reporter.

Here's what happened:

It's no yolk

An egg requires a temperature of 158 degrees to become firm, according to Everyday Mysteries, a website of the Library of Congress.

"In order to cook, proteins in the egg must denature (modify), then coagulate, and that won't happen until the temperature rises enough to start and maintain the process," the smartypants at the Library of Congress opine.

Perhaps they should have tried, as our testers did, cracking the ova on a parking lot which, due to the black asphalt, would be more heat absorbent than an off-white concrete sidewalk.

Our thermometer — a refrigerator magnet shaped like an owl — topped out at 120 degrees, so the actual temperature of the pavement could have been higher.

Trying to cook two eggs — one scrambled, one sunny-side up — it appeared that the yoke portion showed some stiffening after 30 minutes, though the albumen (the clear liquid) failed to turn white at all.

Depends on the hue

Those with children should be aware that the colored paraffin markers they use can be hazardous to a vehicle's upholstery.

The experts at state that their product begins to soften at 105 degrees and has a melting point of between 128 and 147 degrees, depending "on the density and amount of pigment included in various crayons."

To put that to the test, The Herald-Mail's researchers placed a variety of crayons, including a selection of Crayola crayons and generic samples, in a closed vehicle and on asphalt.

The results showed that within 30 minutes the dark-colored markers of red and blue started to melt on the parking lot pavement. An orange marker in the vehicle — an off-brand handed out with a the kids' menu at a restaurant — turned to liquid in the 30-minute period. Other colors seemed to better withstand the heat.

Melts in your car — and your hand

M&Ms, so the advertisements go, "melt in  your mouth, not in your hand."

Various Internet sites hypothesize this is due to the candy shell having a higher melting point than milk chocolate.

There is no such coating on a Hershey bar, which began to soften in the heat even as the wrapper was being opened.

One placed in a car — again on a paper plate — was reduced to the consistency of hot fudge and was very hot to the touch after 30 minutes. The bar in the parking lot also melted.

Cool, man

Bagged ice sales are brisk in this kind of weather, but how long will it take 10 pounds of cubes to become a lukewarm puddle?

We did not find out.

After 30 minutes in the sun, approximately half of the ice had melted.

The testers were getting hot themselves by this time, so we used the water and ice to try to wash the eggs and melted crayons off The Herald-Mail parking lot.

The Shirt Test

Visible perspiration staining of apparel in the axilla, or armpit region, occurred within just six minutes for our test subject, a slightly overweight middle-aged male.

However, the variables in this test are numerous, including the physical condition and hydration of the test subject, and whether they used deodorant or antiperspirant.

Individual results may vary.


We asked one reporter to stand barefoot on the lot until the heat became unbearable. She declined.


A hot time

At the time our tests started, at 1:03 p.m., the temperature was 93.8 degrees, the humidity 48 percent and the heat index 101.9 degrees, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's website,

The temperature rose to 95.4 degrees by 1:36 p.m., while the humidity had fallen to 43 percent. The heat index rose to 103 degrees during the 33-minute span.

Thursday's low was 76.3 degrees at 6:18 a.m.

The Herald-Mail Articles