Remember that iconic Family Guy scene where Peter rips a fart in his front yard that combusts into flames? It turns out that’s not just a cartoon fantasy. You really can create a makeshift flamethrower by combining fire and flatulence.
Fart lighting, AKA pyroflatulence, is the process of igniting intestinal gas as it escapes your rectum. This may seem like a subject limited to the purview of middle school locker rooms and Reddit forums, but dozens of doctors and journalists have documented the art of igniting your air biscuits.
Before you grab a lighter and let it rip , it’s important to know the risks of using your ass to do pyrotechnics. Keep reading to learn exactly what makes (some) farts flammable and explore some notable cases of DUDES igniting their farts so you can see just how dangerous this stunt can be.
Are Farts Flammable?
Farts are potentially flammable since they contain hydrogen sulfide and methane—two flammable gasses that can easily turn your butt emissions into a blazing inferno.
The chemical composition of fart gas varies from dude to dude, but usually consists of nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. Out of these ingredients, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and methane are the ones that are technically flammable.
It was once assumed that methane gas was the key factor behind fiery flatulence . But some Nobel Prize-worthy research suggests that hydrogen sulfide is actually the most potent component. (It also happens to be what makes farts smell like rotten eggs).
Not every fart is a fire hazard. The concentrations of methane and hydrogen sulfide need to be just right for ignition. It's not entirely clear why some farts are combustible while others aren’t. Either way, stand clear of open flames when you break wind so you don’t end up with a burnt butt.
What Happens When You Light a Fart on Fire?
From Jackass to Dumb and Dumber, there have been plenty of fart-lighting scenes in movie history. But we all know the power of special effects. This leads to an intriguing question: What really happens when you hold a flame to a fart?
When your fart gas comes into contact with a flame, it creates a brief burst of flame—usually less than a second. To some extent, you can actually tell the composition of a fart by the flame's color. If there’s a high amount of methane in your fart, the resulting flame will have a blue hue (this is called a “blue angel” or “blue dart”). Alternatively, if hydrogen is the primary fuel, the flame will burn yellow or orange.
Playing with fire near your backside is a risky game, and it's not something any DUDE should try at home. It's all fun and games until someone's butt hair gets singed. Leave the pyrotechnics to the pros. Or, better yet, just stick to enjoying the smell of your farts without starting an inferno.
Meet the People Who Got Hurt from Pyroflatulence
Per Wikipedia’s surprisingly informative article, there are several documented cases of people attempting pyroflatulence—many of whom are teenage dudes. In his book Who Cut the Cheese , author Jim Dawson observed that fart lighting is especially common in college, but is discouraged because of its potential to cause butt burns.
Speaking of butt burns, New York Daily News reported a story of a patient burned when his fart was accidentally ignited by a laser in the middle of a surgery. Yikes.
The Telegraph reported another instance from 2008 involving a 12-year-old boy receiving burns to the backs of his legs and thumb after blowing up a petrol can while breaking wind.
And then of course there’s YouTube, where thousands of people have documented themselves igniting their flatulence. There’s 17+ years of fart-lighting footage out there, so feel free to binge-watch to your heart’s content.
Wet Farts: Just as Dangerous as Flammable Farts
Whether your farts are insanely loud or silent but deadly , they both have the potential to become fire hazards. But there’s another type of dangerous toot you need to be cautious about: wet ones (AKA sharts ).
We’ve wiped billions of butts over the years, and a solid percentage of that wiping happened after some poor dude got the Hershey squirts. We’ve all been there: You thought it was a routine fart, then you feel something warm and wet below the belt.
That’s where DUDE Wipes come in: on-the-go flushable wipes that are built to handle even the most brutal blowouts. Stay strapped and thank us later when you’re not mopping up your third pit with sandy two-ply.