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Can You Drink Liquid Nitrogen?

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This is a photo of liquid nitrogen being poured from a dewar.

This is a photo of liquid nitrogen being poured from a dewar. Liquid nitrogen is clear and has bubbles, like carbonated water, but it is way too cold to touch or drink.

Cory Doctorow
Question: Can You Drink Liquid Nitrogen?
Liquid nitrogen is used to make liquid nitrogen ice cream and for many other cool science projects, but you may be wondering if it is safe to drink. Here's the answer.
Answer: Although liquid nitrogen is used to make ice cream and other edible science foods, the nitrogen evaporates into a gas before these items are consumed, so it isn't actually present by the time they are ingested. This is good, because drinking liquid nitrogen can lead to serious injury or may be fatal. This is because the temperature of liquid nitrogen at normal pressures is between 63 K and 77.2 K (-346°F and -320.44°F). So, although the nitrogen is non-toxic, this is cold enough to cause instantaneous frostbite. While pin-point-sized droplets of liquid nitrogen on your skin won't pose much of a hazard, the extensive contact you would get from drinking the liquid would cause severe damage to your mouth, esophagus and stomach. Also, 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.

Liquid Nitrogen Cocktails

Some trendy bars chill cocktail glasses with liquid nitrogen so that they will appear to smoke when liquid is added to the glass. Alternatively, a small amount of liquid nitrogen added to a drink will cause it to emit a spooky wisp of vapor. In theory, this can be done safely by someone trained in the proper use of liquid nitrogen. It should not be attempted by anyone other than a professional. Keep in mind, 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.

Learn More

Safe Things To Do With Liquid Nitrogen
Homemade Liquid Nitrogen Substitute
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Can You Drink Distilled Water?

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