UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Is eating glacial ice bad for you? I was told that if you eat ice from a glacier it will make you very sick as it has micro organisms in it. Is this true? Thank You
Question Date: 2008-12-27
Answer 1:

Well, there are micro-organisms, that is, microbes that can live in ice. I dont know which ones and I dont know if they are pathogenic. Basically, you should always boil water and or use purification tablets when you use stream water or ice when hiking.It is not worth the risk in general.

Answer 2:

I asked my mom about this one -- she's a public health microbiologist -- and she said that glaciers probably don't have a whole lot of microorganisms that can harm you, at least not compared with stream water, which is warmer and can host many more microorganisms (e.g. Giardia) that will make you sick.

Answer 3:

If you eat snow or ice that has enough microorganisms to give it a color (e.g. pink), then it will give you diarrhea. Otherwise, snow and ice are generally safe to eat.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use