In Australia some reference to the subject of iced drinks is necessarily required, for they are in great request during the hot season. There is a considerable amount of diversity of opinion as to their good and bad effects, but it will be found that the experience of most medical men is that when used in moderation they greatly relieve thirst and are not injurious. This, indeed, is my own belief, and were it not for the abuse of iced drinks, the same opinion would be held almost universally. America is the country of countries in which the inordinate use of ice has gained for it a reputation which it has never deserved. Ice, says George Augustus Sala, is the alpha and omega of social life in the United States. At the hotels, first-class or otherwise, the beverage partaken of at dinner is mostly iced water. Every repast, in fact, begins and ends with a glass of iced water. When consumed in this way it is no wonder that it often disagrees, and that ice-water dyspepsia is a definite malady in America. And more than this, imagine carrying the employment of ice to such an extent that it culminates in that gastronomical curiosity, a baked ice! The "Alaska" is a baked ice, of which the interior is an ice cream. This latter is surrounded by an exterior of whipped cream, made warm by means of a Salamander. The transition from the hot outside envelope to the frozen inside is painfully sudden, and Hot likely to be attended with beneficial effect. But the abuse of a good thing is no argument whatever against its use in a moderate and rational manner.
It will be desirable, however, to see what is believed in India about iced drinks, for it will be something of a guide for us in Australia. There are two authorities in particular who have been already referred to, and who have written on this matter in its application to India. The first of these is Sir James Ranald Martin, who had twenty-two years experience there in different parts, and is therefore entitled to be listened to. He says that ice is a matter of necessity in the East, and quotes Dolomieu, who observes of iced drinks that "they revive the spirits, strengthen the body, and assist the digestion."
There is also that other great name, that of Sir Joseph Fayrer, who is most competent to speak on Indian matters. In setting forth rules for the guidance of those who purpose living in India, he remarks that iced water may be drunk with impunity there; that he has no recollection of seeing any one suffer from drinking iced water or iced soda water in a hot climate; and that in the great heat it is good, since it tends to keep down the body temperature. When the system is prostrated by the sun or extreme heat, or exhausted by physical or intellectual exertion in a hot and damp atmosphere, he believes that a glass of iced water slowly swallowed is far more refreshing than the iced brandy, or whisky peg, or draught of beer, too frequently indulged in under such circumstances.
The different writers on food and dietetics, who have given considerable attention to the same subject, are almost unanimous in their opinion to the same effect. There will be no occasion to refer to all of them, but three at least deserve a brief mention. Dr. Burney Yeo has recently observed that iced water, when taken in small quantities, is refreshing and cooling, and likewise stimulates the digestive functions On the other hand, it is certainly injurious when taken in inordinate amount. According to Dr. T. King Chambers, cool drinks are beneficial to the stomach in hot weather, since they help to reduce the increased temperature to which the over-heated blood has brought it. Ice, moreover, is a valuable addition to the dietary both of the sick and of the healthy. There is one caution to be observed, however, and it is that ice is injurious when the system is exhausted after violent exercise. And lastly, Dr. Milner Fothergill believes the craving for cool drinks during the hot weather is such, that there is evidently some irrepressible desire to be satisfied. He even writes that in his opinion the dyspepsia of Americans is not entirely due to the free use of iced water, but that there are other causes which help to bring it about.
But while all this is greatly in favour of the moderate use of iced drinks, the purity of the source from which the ice is obtained is also a matter of the highest importance. Ice is not ice when the water from which it is derived is impure. There was an outbreak of sickness amongst the visitors at one of the large hotels at Rye Beach, a watering-place in America, one summer. The symptoms were an alarming disturbance of the whole of the digestive organs, with severe pain, great feverishness, and depression of spirits. It was found that the ice which occasioned this outbreak had been taken from a stagnant pond containing a large amount of decomposing matter. A portion of it was carefully melted, and was found to contain a considerable quantity of decaying vegetable matter. In the case of artificial ice, the question of purity is even more important. The reason for this is that the water used in the manufacture of artificial ice is usually frozen solid, and whatever substances, consequently, are dissolved in the water remain in the ice itself.