It has become a growing trend among restaurants and bars to serve Nitrogen drinks with dramatic white fumes. However, one such drink caused a hole and subsequent removal of a part of stomach of a 30-year-old man in Delhi.

The “cauldron effect” drinks might be in these days, but there is a dark side to them as well. 

Here’s all you need to know about it:

What is liquid nitrogen?

Liquid Nitrogen has a boiling point of -196 degree Celsius and is usually used as a coolant for computers, in medicines to remove unwanted skin warts or to preserve biological samples and materials.

Now, it is increasingly being used in restaurants to give a “cauldron-effect” to food and drinks. The intensely cold gas can frostbite or give cryogenic burns when ingested. It can also lead to severe internal damage, it can destroy tissue in the mouth and digestive tract. Moreover as it evaporates, liquid nitrogen releases a large volume of gas, which means it can burst the stomach if swallowed in a sufficiently large amount.

Though the chemical is not too expensive, the vessels in which it is stored, called dewars, are costly because if the liquid nitrogen is kept in a standard flask, it would explode. 

How safe is it?

While nitrogen is cited as a harmless gas, its liquid form has the ability to freeze objects in a matter of seconds. Even a slight touch of the liquid can give severe burns.

As the liquid nitrogen vaporizes, it becomes nitrogen gas which exerts pressure, leaking into tissues or possibly leading to perforations. Even if the liquid nitrogen vaporizes, the remaining liquid may be dangerously cold.’

Should you consume nitrogen drinks at all?

If at all one must consume a drink which has liquid nitrogen in it, it is advisable to drink it once the smoke from it dissipates and there are no bubbles left in the drink. 

The liquid nitrogen vaporizes into gas before the drink is imbibed, so no one drinks the nitrogen. If nitrogen does get into a drink, it is visible floating on top of the liquid surface.

Not the first case

In a similar case in 2012, an 18-year-old girl in UK suffered the same fate.

Celebrating her 18th birthday at a local bar, Gaby Scanlon ordered a Nitro-Jagermeister shot. Baffled by the fumes coming out of it, the girl asked the bartender if it was okay to drink it. Upon assurance from him, she drank the cocktail but within minutes she underwent agonizing pain and smoke came out of her nose and mouth.

b’Gaby Scanlon’

She was rushed to a hospital where a part of her stomach was removed. The incident prompted representatives of the British Compressed Gases Association and the Food Standards Agency of UK to warn the public of the dangers of consuming it.

Many a times, bartenders refuse to touch the chemical because of the risks of storing and handling it. A German chef three years ago lost his hand after a canister of liquid nitrogen exploded.

(Feature image source: Reuters)