Journal of Applied Physiology

Freezing temperature of finger skin

O. Wilson, R. F. Goldman, G. W. Molnar


In 45 subjects, 154 frostnips of the finger were induced by cooling in air at -15 degrees C with various wind speeds. The mean supercooled skin temperature at which frostnip appeared was -9.4 degrees C. The mean skin temperature rise due to heat of fusion at ice crystallization was 5.3 degrees C.The skin temperature rose to what was termed the apparent freezing point. The relation of this point to the supercooled skin temperature was analyzed for the three wind speeds used. An apparent freezing point for a condition of no supercooling was calculated, estimating the highest temperature at which skin freezes at a given wind speed. The validity of the obtained differences in apparent freezing point was tested by an analysis of covariance. Although not statistically significant, the data suggest that the apparent freezing point with no supercooling decreases with increasing wind velocity.The highest calculated apparent freezing point at -15 degrees C and 6.8 m/swas 1.2 degrees C lower than the true freezing point for skin previously determined in brine, which is a statistically significant difference.