Monday, August 09, 2004

The Sock Method : How to cool your water in the desert from 1st LAR

Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Camp Al Qaim, Iraq, discovered the “sock method” to beat the heat and cool off their drinking water. The concept might sound a little “ripe,” but those who use it would bet their boots, er... socks, on it.

The first step of the “sock method” is to make sure there's an extra sock in your daypack. Socks straight off the feet, even to Marines who have been in the field for days and weeks at time, are just too funky.

Step two is to thoroughly wet the sock, insert a plastic water bottle completely inside it, and set it in the shade for about ten minutes. The end result is cool and refreshing, at least to a grunt who has been slogging along in temperatures topping a hundred degrees.

“It is a quick way to cool down when you don’t have any ice available to you,” said Staff Sgt. Vince Peralta, a 30-year-old Weapons Company platoon sergeant from Los Angeles. “Using the sock is better than just drinking hot water. There’s a huge difference. That’s why we always use it.”

Marines unfamiliar with the sock method were hesitant to try it at first, but once the word got out as the thermometer readings climbed, everyone’s daypack included a spare sock.

“I didn’t believe it at first because it didn’t sound like it was real,” said Cpl. Robert D. Brooks, a 22-year-old from Ypsilanti, Mich. “Then I tried it and it convinced me. It actually works. If it sounds, well, stinky, think about the alternative when your water bottle has been heating under the desert sun. Drinking hot water makes you sick to your stomach.”

The method itself is nothing new. Desert bags were popular for Marines during the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War. The square canvas bags would be filled and soaked on the outside. The concept is the moisture on the outside wicks away the heat as it evaporates. As long as the cloth covering - in this case, the sock - stays wet, the drink stays cool.

“The key thing to all this is once you pour water on the sock you have to keep it in the shade or else it will take longer to cool down,” Peralta said. “But on any given hot day you will find me using the sock method just so I can have cold water to drink.”

“I love it, because I don’t like hot water at all. Even when I take shower, I don’t like to use hot water,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Crawford, 22, from Salem, Ore. “I like to use the sock method after making tea. I let it sit in the bottle and sock and cool off. I guess the sock method is a LAR thing. It helps them stay hydrated and they enjoy drinking the cool water. It helps beat the heat.”
The Iraq War: Another View |

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