Would You Like Some Ice for That Burn?

Alex Parry


This paper aims to determine how much energy would have to be imparted in one spoken sentence to inflict a third-degree burn on a nearby person. Using an average skin temperature of 33.2oC, the power of normal human speech as 1.25x10-5 W, and the understanding that it is necessary for 60oC water to be in contact with skin for 5s to cause a third-degree burn, it was calculated that 2.32x103 J would be needed to cause this damage to the recipient of the ‘burn’. This would mean 5.88 years of continuous normal speech or five seconds of speech at 172.7 dB.


Idiom; Physics; Thermodynamics; Acoustics; Would you like some ice for that burn?

Full Text:



Oxford Dictionaries (2017) burn, Oxford University Press, [Online]. Available: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/burn. [Accessed 15 February 2017].

The All Knowing Amy, (2004) burn, Urban Dictionary, 5 May 2004. [Online]. Available: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=burn. [Accessed 15 February 2017].

National Health Service England (2015) Burns and scalds, National Health Service England, 16 November 2015. [Online]. Available: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Burns-and-scalds/Pages/Introduction.aspx. [Accessed 15 February 2017].

Burn Foundation (2017) Safety Facts on Scald Burns, Burn Foundation, [Online]. Available: http://www.burnfoundation.org/programs/resource.cfm?c=1&a=3. [Accessed 15 February 2017].

Karlsbad, A. & Kopp, S. (1991) Intramuscular and skin surface temperatures of the resting human superficial masseter muscle, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 225-231.

Foundation for Research on Information Technologies in Society (2017) Tissue Properties - Heat Capacity, [Online]. Available: https://www.itis.ethz.ch/virtual-population/tissue-properties/database/heat-capacity/. [Accessed 15 February 2017].

Liang, X. & Boppart, S.A. (2010) Biomechanical Properties of In Vivo Human Skin From Dynamic Optical Coherence Elastography, Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 953-959.

Crandall, I.B. & MacKenzie, D. (1922) Analysis of the Energy Distribution in Speech, Physical Review Letters, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 221-232.

Purdue University Chemistry Department (2000) Noise Sources and Their Effects, February 2000. [Online]. Available: https://www.chem.purdue.edu/chemsafety/Training/PPETrain/dblevels.htm. [Accessed 18 February 2017].


  • There are currently no refbacks.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.