Q On record, is January the coldest month of the year or is it February?

A: In the Northern Hemisphere, January is usually the coldest month of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, January is the warmest month of the year.

Q Do you know how to get sap out of a pair of khakis?

A: Sap is a tough thing to get out of clothes and off your hands. The following are some useful removal tips that usually work well:

n Peanut butter. Rub peanut butter on the spot and the sap should disappear. Peanut butter also works well to remove sap from hands.

n Freeze it. Put your pants in the freezer for at least two hours. Once the sap is frozen, you should be able to scrape it off with a dull knife.

n Mayonnaise. Try rubbing some mayonnaise into the sap. This helps soften the sap, and allows you to remove the clumps. Continue to rub the mayonnaise in until you are able to remove all of it. This will leave an oily spot, so you should wash with a commercial stain remover once the sap is gone.

n Turpentine. Mix one part turpentine with four parts dish soap, apply directly to the affected areas, and then launder the soiled pants by themselves.

Q How do polar bears survive in the cold conditions they live in?

A: Polar bears are well insulated from the cold with two layers of fur, and a layer of fat called blubber. These two layers keep them warm even in the coldest conditions. The first layer of fur is soft and close to the skin. The second layer is made of hollow hairs having no pigment. The hollow hairs help with warmth by holding in warm air, and with buoyancy when swimming. The only parts of a polar bear that are not covered by fur are its nose and bottom of its feet. Even the top of the polar bear’s feet are guarded from the cold by fur.

A polar bear’s blubber can be up to 4.5 inches thick. This fat insulates the bear, keeping it warm, but also causes it to overheat easily when running. Polar bears are unique in that they give off no detectable heat, keeping it all inside, which allows them to survive in very cold temps.

Q Why is it hard to start a car on a really cold day?

A: Gasoline must be vaporized in order to burn and for a car to work. In northern localities, winter temperatures can get very frigid, which prevents the gasoline from vaporizing well. That sometimes causes a car to start hard. Another trouble can be attributed to the oil in the car. Oil gets a lot thicker in cold weather, which means the engine has to work harder to move through the cold, thick oil. The third cause can, of course, be the battery in your car. The chemical reaction in car batteries slows down when temps are cold.

Write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]

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