Friday, November 2, 2007

This tastes like burning

A couple of my students told me about this little "trick." Take a piece of Big Red gum and remove the wrapper. Lick the wrapper and place on your skin (shiny side out). The forehead works great, especially for the unsuspecting.
After a few minutes, the effect will be noticeable. A burning sensation is eventually accompanied by a bit of skin irritation. Try it. This is what my arm looked like after 5 minutes (the picture's not great, but you get the point):

Of course, there is chemistry at play here. The culprit is the same thing that gives Big Red (and other cinnamon-flavored gums) it's character... cinnamaldehyde.

I wonder if there is an MSDS for Big Red. If there was, I bet chewing it would not be acceptable.


milkshake said...

I was reading complaints from someone - about the idiotic things that people do in the freshman orgo lab. Like getting a painful ulcer on the tongue, from tasting neat cinnamaldehyde...

(My favorite freshman lab mishap is connecting the Bunsen burner to a water outlet - the puzzled looks when a fountain erupts under the heating tripod is preceless)

mjenks said...

Ah, cinnamaldehyde...we used that in grad school to the point that I can't stand cinnamon any more. Oh, the stinky, stinky memories. It would soak through two layers of gloves, I swear, and no matter how much you washed, the stink never went away.

I can smell it now on my fingers.