Liquid nitrogen is a cryogenic liquid. They’re liquefied gases that can only stay liquid at extremely low temperatures. For example, liquid nitrogen boils at (minus) -196°C (-320° F).
That makes it very useful for preserving sperm, and animals’ genetic samples. Doctors also use it in cryotherapy to kill and remove abnormal skin tissue, such as warts or skin tags. And some people’s dead bodies have been frozen in liquid nitrogen, hopefully to be revived in the future.
But since this tissue killer, liquid nitrogen, is available to the public, people have died using it for fun. So this is when we remind you, please don’t try this at home. Can liquid nitrogen freeze your entire body?
How can it suffocate you? What happens if you drink it?
Step 1: Stay Hot
Surprisingly, you won’t get frostbitten and frozen immediately, thanks to the Leidenfrost Effect. When a liquid touches a heated surface that’s much hotter than the liquid’s boiling point, it forms a thin layer of vapor that separates the liquid from the hot surface.
Liquid nitrogen’s boiling point is -196ºC (-320ºF), so your skin is much warmer than that. The Leidenfrost Effect will protect you for a couple of seconds, but you have to move on to the next step if you want to survive.
Step 2: Move Fast
After a couple of seconds, the liquid nitrogen concentration will lower your skin’s temperature, and the vapor buffer will disappear. Severe frostbite will kill your cells and destroy your tissue, which can cause gangrene. You might even need to have your limbs removed.
And if you wait a few more seconds, it will freeze all the water in your body. All your tissues will be frozen solid. Let’s hope you can get out of the pool in just a second.”
Step 3: Check your oxygen
The air you breathe is 78% nitrogen. But when liquid nitrogen hits the atmosphere, it starts to boil violently. Its vapor expands so quickly that it can displace oxygen from the air.
And you’ll pass out before you notice it because the air will still be breathable. And If you’re alone and you faint in a pool of liquid nitrogen, it will kill you. In 2013, some party organizers tried to impress their guests at a Mexican resort. They dumped four cans of liquid nitrogen in the hotel’s pool to create a foggy effect.
A few minutes later, eight people passed out, and one man fell into a coma. So if you’re using liquid nitrogen, You must monitor the oxygen level to stay healthy and conscious.
Step 4: Go outside
If liquid nitrogen vaporizes violently, and you’re in a confined space, or one that’s not well ventilated, it doesn’t just displace oxygen from the air. It will also cause a severe pressure build-up. The pressure can cause an explosion. So if you want to survive, make sure you are in an open space.
Step 5: Don’t drink a drop
Although liquid nitrogen is not toxic, its extremely low temperature can kill your body’s internal tissues. Despite that, some people are using liquid nitrogen to create this foggy effect in drinks and foods.
But you must remember that your body cannot cope with this extreme cold. In 2012, an 18-year-old girl in the UK had part of her stomach removed after drinking a fancy cocktail prepared with liquid nitrogen. So, close your mouth, and don’t let a single drop enter your body.
Brrr. You survived this crazy cold. Now you need to warm up. How about some sun? Yes, that will help. But wait, what is that? Do you think you can survive a solar storm?
- “Everything You Need To Know About Liquid Nitrogen”. Anne Marie Helmenstine. 2021. Thoughtco.
- “What Not To Bring To Your Summer Pool Party: Liquid Nitrogen”. Waldman, Katy. 2013. Slate Magazine.
- “Hand vs. Liquid Nitrogen and the Leidenfrost Effect”. 2021. youtube.com.
- “Frostbite during handling of liquid nitrogen: prevention and first aid”. 2021. dairyknowledge.in.
- “Liquid Nitrogen Safety”. 2021. physics.purdue.edu.
- “Liquid Nitrogen In The Food And Beverage Industry | Ministry Of Labour”. 2021. labour.gov.on.ca.