Ok, when I was a kid, a friend and I would grab whatever household liquids we could find (usually from under the sink) and mix them together. We thought we were chemists. Yet the concoctions we brewed up smelled horrid. It’s dumb luck we didn’t create chlorine gas and kill ourselves. (We usually mixed outside.)
If you have an inkling to delve into chemistry, don’t start with the stuff in your sink, or garage, or plain anything that’s not edible. You’re more likely to make yourself sick. That said, here are five nasty household poisons.
Most don’t think twice about the old coppertops, but these are filled with a chemical known as sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. What’s that, you say? Well, if you’ve ever seen Fight Club, you’ll know that its an extremely corrosive alkali used to create soap (traces remain to kill the bacteria in on your hands when you wash). So, a word to the wise, don’t crack open an energizer to see what’s inside.
Dishwasher Soap and Fabric Softener
Both of these contain cationic detergents. This stuff, when swallowed, will cause vomiting, corrosive damage to the esophagus, convulsions, comas and possible death. After ten minutes, the body’s cells begin to absorb this chemical, which interferes with normal cell functions.
We all know not to clean our contact lenses with Windex, right? (Please say you said yes to that one.) But one of the ingredients in most window cleaners is isopropanol (a relative to ethyl alcohol). Basically, this stuff evaporates quickly (for that streak free shine). However, it’s also poisonous if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It depresses the nervous system leading to a coma. It’s like getting massively drunk, only this stuff will kill you.
This chemical is awesome for dissolving paint and irritating your skin. In fact, this stuff tastes so bad, few people would ever swallow it. However, breathing the fumes can cause dizziness, accelerated heartbeat and breathing, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Eventually, the chemical could shutdown your kidneys.
They smell nice, but often they contain methanol (another cousin to ethyl alcohol). This chemical is also found in paint thinners and solvents. When ingested, the body transforms methanol into formaldehyde (you know, the stuff they use to preserve dead bodies). So drinking it will actually pickle you. Literally. This stuff also causes permanent blindness along with a long list of symptoms ending in death.
The next time you yearn to play household chemist, try baking instead. At least then, when you mess up, you can eat the results.