The "Fart Fire - Burn Cat" video debate continues - a response to @trumpman and @kryzsec

in #science5 years ago (edited)

Oh boy... Here we go, Steemiacs!

With awe, I watched this particular youtube video, shared by @trumpman here, that entailed a debate about its authenticity and a scientific gauge of the likelihood of the presented event happening by @kryzsec in his breakdown of fart combustion chemistry

I couldn't stop pondering about the science of a farted flame which burns a bypasser cat's hair, and while doing that I certainly let out one or two farts myself... I am digressing. Anyhow.

I greatly appreciate @kryzsec 's approach of applying chemical reaction equations and the concept of reaction enthalpy to solve this most urgent problem. His considerations are perfectly correct in terms of gas composition and volumes of a fart - I double-checked the sources and also found more according sources. Unfortunately, the nightly time of his posting led him to introduce some decimal mistakes which we, first, need to correct. Using online calculators brings its perils. Therefore, I will calculate the values step by step offline.


Ad @kryzsec 's calculation

  1. 26.25 ml of Methane (CH4) are equivalent to 0.0017 mol and an energy release of 0.94 kJ.

  2. The molar amount of a portion of gas can be calculated from the volume of this portion by using the molar volume of an ideal gas. The figure of the molar volume of an ideal gas was determined by Avogadro to be 22.4 L/mol at standard conditions (around 20deg Celsius and atmospheric pressure).

    The formula of the relationsship between molar volume, volume and amount is:

    Vmol = V / n

    where Vmol is the molar volume; V is the volume; n is the amount of substance or gas

    Solving the equation for n, we get:

    n = V / Vmol

    Now we insert the known values V = 26.25 ml = 0.02625 L and Vmol = 22.4 L/mol and get:

    n = 0.02625 L / 22.4 (L/mol) = 0.00117 mol = 1.17 mmol

    The combustion of methane results in a reaction enthalpy of -802.3 kJ/mol.

    Therefore, the released heat energy of burning 1.17 mmol of methane is ΔH(CH4) = [0.00117 mol*(-802.3 kJ/mol)] = -0.94 kJ.

  3. 78.75 ml of Hydrogen (H2) are equivalent to 0.0035 mol and an energy release of 1.70 kJ.

  4. Using the equivalent calculations as in 1., we obtain the values

    n = 0.007875 L / 22.4 (L/mol) = 0.0035 mol = 3.5 mmol

    for the amount of hydrogen in a fart

    and an energy release of ΔH(H2) = [0.0035 mol*(-483.6 kJ/mol)] = -1.70 kJ.

  5. The net energy release from burning a fart with an estimaed volume of 375 ml and a proportion of 7% of methane and 21% of hydrogen leads to an energy release of 2.64 kJ.

  6. This one is a non-brainer. To obtain the total energy release from the fart combustion, we need to add up the enthalpies form both reactions 

    ΔH(total) = ΔH(CH4) + ΔH(H2) = (-0.94 kJ) + (-1.70 kJ) = -2.64 kJ

    The negative prefix means that energy is released and not consumed, by the way.

  7. So what?

Now, the question is whether an energy release of 2.64 kJ would be enough to produce a flame that burns hair. Honestly, I do not know. I do not believe so. It would produce a neat puff at best, would be my guess. As @kryzsec considered, and here I differ in the detail, 2.64 kJ are enough to heat approx. one cube meter of air by 2.16 degrees Kelvin, since the density of air is 1.225 kg/m3 and the specific heat capacity of air is around 1.00 kJ/(kg*K). That seems to not be much.

However, we have to consider, that the lighter flame acts as a catalysator of the reaction between the fart gases and air oxygen and the chemical reaction is almost instantaneous. That means the energy released per unit of time is a large figure.

In addition, due to the direction of the fart air flow and its velocity, the released energy is propelled towards the table and simultaenously, the unlucky cat. Thus, the local temperature of the air in the immediate vicinity of the appearing cat, can be increased at least by a magnitude higher than 2.16 Kelvin for a very short time window.

These are just my considerations and we seriously need a pyrochemist here, because I cannot wrap my mind around how flames actually work.

BUT, I will show you now, why fart fire is, nevertheless, in the very close realm of possibilites when taking into account two more facts.

Have you ever tried to breathe from the back end? The carreer of a flatulist

No lengthy explanations here. There was this guy, born in the 19th century, Joseph Pujol, who, by accident, discovered that he could perform an enema on himself when swimming in the sea.
Yes, he could let his rectum fill itself with water at will. Needless to say, some time later he tried this neat trick with air and found himself mesmerized by his incredible ability to let out farts whenever and how often he wanted. He perfected his talents until he could fart melodies and imitate animals. He came to be known as Le Pétomane, becoming a top performing artist (erm, flatulist) at Mouline Rouge in Paris. Those were the days...

Le Pétomane in all his glory. Source: Public Domain.

Joseph Pujol was not a singular accident in the history of human anatomy. Even in our days, men of great valour come out and perform fart arts, as can be seen in this video that @mariossap shared in a comment to @trumpman's initial post.

How can this be? Well, it seems to be that some people (including one of my friends) acquire the ability to control their anal sphincter in a sophisticated manner, opening it and by applying the right abdominal pressure at the same time, sucking in air, and closing it again; and then releasing the accumulated air in one go - the fart.

Alright... Farting at will.

The fire breathers

You've certainly heard of fire breathers, often gathering at medieval markets and performing their stunts. Some bands, like Kiss or Subway to Sally, even implement this art during their stage shows. Although this is an extremely dangerous activity (DO NOT TRY TO REPEAT THIS AT HOME) that requires education and training, some people like to experiment with simple tools like a cigarette lighter. Look at this guy:

If you ask me, that's an impressive flame! Quite similar to that, seen in the "Fart Fire - Burn Cat" video

What's actually in a cigarette lighter?

A usual cigarette lighter contains the substance butane (or propane or a mixture of both, but we stick to butane for simplicity). At normal conditions butane is a gas. That's why the cigarette lighter contains a pressurized space to keep the butane liquid. Upon release of the lighter valve, the liquidified butane starts to evoporate because the air pressure is equilibrating between outside and inside.


According to this site, the maximum gaseous volume of butane that can be released by a lighter is about 1.3 L or 0.057 mol. With the reaction enthalpy being -2657 kJ/mol (equivalent calculation as in the first section; consider a standard formation enthalpy of butane –125.6 kJ/mol), this would yield a total energy release per burned butane content of a lighter of -151.5 kJ. 

My suggestion to explain the video - breathe in butane from the back end, spit fire to scorch the cat

Now, we have an opportunity for a relative comparison. Burning a fart at once gives you 2.64 kJ of heat energy. Burning the complete content of a cigarette lighter 151.5 kJ. That's a 57.4-fold difference. I think, we can agree, that igniting the whole content of a cigarette lighter might produce a much larger flame than seen in the "Fart Fire - Burn Cat" video.

Therefore, from the facts laid out above, I suggest, that this newly discovered performance artist, breathed in a good amount of butane from the cigarette lighter through the anus into his rectum. According to this source, someone who has mastered voluntary farting can "butthale" up to 3 liters of air.

Perhaps, a far more pleasant way to imagine what butthaling looks like. Pixabay

Let's stay modest here and assume that the guy butthaled half a litre of gas consisting of 50% of normal air and 50% of lighter butane. That corresponds to 250 ml of butane, which is roughly 0.011 mol and corresponds to an energy release of 29.1 kJ upon complete combustion. That is eleven times more than the combustion of a natural fart! 

I hope you can see the connection now and that I could convince you, that it is very well possible to fart flames equivalent to fire breathing, when a flammable gas like butane is butthaled into the rectum, before it is again released and passed through a burning flame that acts as a combustion catalysator!

Such a skillful mastery has, of course, to be documented on video. That is why I am not surprised that there was a camera man filming. A final question remains, though. How the hell did the cat get in the way?

A cat approximated by a quantum particle

To solve the remaining question of how likely it is, that a cat would rush through the target field of a fart fire at the very moment of its release, is beyond my expertise. However, I would like to assume that cats can be approximated by quantum particles since it is known that a cat can be everywhere at any time.


Theoretically, the probability of a quantum particle, like an electron, being at a particular location at any given time, can be calculated. Thus, a similar calculation should be feasible on cats. 

Perhaps, @lemouth, our steemstem particle physicist, can shed light on this important issue!

Never neglect fart science.

Yours, @replichara


I refuse to fart (well, comment) on this topic! :D

We wait until enough pressure has built up, then :-P

Please build it. I am strong :D

You may be strong @lemouth, but you can't avoid this subject forever... We will get it out of you!

Try try... :D

Jeez, so this is what you end up doing when you cannot train...

While all your fart-culations had me like this:

I have to say that your theory of the butthaling (including your contribution to the state of the cat) really took your post to the next level.

Top quality shitposting (or should I say, "fartposting"?), indeed. Steemit needs more stuff like this...

It's not my fault that fart science posts came up in my feed :-P Obviously, not-training makes me restless and contemplative.

I always have to think of this picture now, whenever I see something maths related, haha.

Anyway, thanks for supporting fartposting!

A true masterpiece

Thanks for the inspiration and prompting. I'll give away 1/3 of the author rewards for this post to this youtube guy if you manage to convince him to join Steemit and make an introduction post explaining how he did what he did :-D

You keep taking farts to a whole new level guys... :P

We have to do something useful with our years and years of education!

Did anyone play Harry potter video game?
They had large tortoise which used to throw fire when the fart!!!
I don't know why, but this post reminded me of that game for some reason!

Haha, no I didn't play this game. But I guess, Harry Potter can pull any funny tricks he wants.

I clap for you! And thank you for correcting my work though even with 11 times the energy (since it is a short amount of time) I think I will stay with my conclusion of me not thinking the cat would actually burn.

But now its time to get someone that knows way more to settle this... @lemouth, you know physics and should be able to settle the debate!

What is the most deadly fart?

Todesfahrt :-P

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