- Fart lighting
Fart lighting, (also called fart-burning, blue-darting, blue flame, blue angel, flatus ignition, and pyroflatulence) is the practice of setting fire to the gases produced by human
flatulence, often producing a blue hue.
Although there is little
scientificdiscourse on the combustive properties of flatus, there are many anecdotal accounts of flatus ignition, and the activity has increasingly found its way into popular culture with references in comicroutines; movies; and television, including cartoons.
The composition of flatus varies dramatically among individuals. Flatulence produces a mixture of
gaseswith the following five as major components: [Van Ness, M. M. and Cattau, E. L. (1985) Am. Fam. Practioner, 31;198-208.]
Methane burns in oxygen forming water and carbon dioxide often producing a blue
hue(ΔHc = -891 kJ/mol), [ [http://ull.chemistry.uakron.edu/erd/chemicals/6001/6744.html Methane ] ] as:
:chem|CH|4(g) + 2chem|O|2(g) → chem|CO|2(g) + 2chem|H|2|O(g)
Hydrogen sulfide also combusts (ΔHc = -519 kJ/mol) [ [http://ull.chemistry.uakron.edu/erd/chemicals/6001/6578.html Hydrogen sulfide ] ] to
:2chem|H|2|S(g) + 3chem|O|2(g) → 2chem|SO|2(g) + 2chem|H|2|O(g)
The odor associated with flatus is due to hydrogen sulfide,
skatole, indole, volatile amines and short chain fatty acids. These substances are detectable by olfactory neurons in concentrations as low as 10 parts per billion, hydrogen sulfide being the most odorous. [Levitt, M. D. and Bond, J. H. (1978) in Intestinal Gas and Gastrointestinal Disease]
The gases are produced by
bacteriawhich live in symbiosiswithin the large intestinesof humans and other mammals. The gases are created as a by-product of the bacteria's digestionworking to break food down into elementary substances. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A673508 BBC - h2g2 - Farts and Flatulence ] ]
quote|The manly art of fart-burning. Compression,
ignition, combustionand exhaust."cite book
title=Electric Don Quixote: The Definitive Story of Frank Zappa
isbn = 0711994366
page = 100
accessdate=2007-10-07] cite book
last = Zappa
coauthors = Peter Occhiogrosso
title=The Real Frank Zappa Book
publisher=Simon and Schuster
isbn = 0671705725, 9780671705725
page = 85
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=FB0O_HCpBy0C
accessdate=2008-08-17] |Frank ZappaBecause the
methaneand hydrogenpresent are flammable, igniting the resulting gases can result in burns or explosions as well as the desired flame. Clothing or hair may catch fire and sensitive tissues can be damaged. The flame is not always blue but may also be orange or yellow as well, depending on the composition of the gas and the microorganisms living in the colon.
Technique and safety
The act of fart lighting is performed by using a naked flame, such as a lit match, candle, or a cigarette lighter. So widespread is this activity that there are web sites on the Internet devoted exclusively to explaining proper lighting techniques. A major drawback of this popular practice is that it usually involves the hazardous coupling of fire, combustible gases and inebriated participants. Reports of serious burns to body parts are not uncommon but clothing helps to protect one's skin. Wearing pants -- e.g., thick cotton sweatpants -- is a good safety precaution. As with all fire stunts, cotton clothes (particularly if damp), or even better wool, are safer than synthetics. The
fire pointof cotton is 410°F, and it is hard to ignite accidentally. But many common synthetic fabrics, e.g., polyester fleece or nylon pants, can melt to the skin or catch fire.
Fart lighting has been a novelty practice primarily among young men or college students for decades,cite web
title=Who Cut the Cheese?: A Cultural History of the Fart
publisher=Ten Speed Press,
accessdate=2007-10-07] but is discouraged for its potential for causing injury. Such experiments typically occur on camping trips and single-sex group residences, such as tree-houses, dormitories, or fraternity houses. [ [http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1525/sp.2005.52.3.315 U. of California Press Web site] Retrieved October 6, 2007] With the advent of video sharing features online, hundreds of self-produced videos, both documentary as well as spoof, have been posted to sites such as
YouTube. The people appearing the videos are predominantly young males.cite web
title=On YouTube, you too can be a star
publisher=Santa Cruz Live
accessdate=2007-10-07] cite web
title=Search Results for “fart lighting”
accessdate=2007-10-07] In his book "The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life" author Mark Richard Leary explains how a great deal of unhappiness is due to people's inability to exert control over their thoughts and behavior and that "stupid stunts" including lighting flatulence was a way to make an impression and be included in group bonding or hazing.cite web
first =Mark Richard
title=The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life
publisher=Oxford University Press
The flammability of bodily gases has caused serious problems in the medical operating room and also in animal
slaughterhouses. There have been many reports in the medical literature of "life-threatening explosions" in patients undergoing electrocautery of colon polyps or other lesions. [cite journal | last = Levitt | first = Michael D | coauthors = John H. Bond | year = 1980 | title = Flatulence | journal = Annual Review of Medicine | volume = 31 | pages = 127–137 | doi = 10.1146/annurev.me.31.020180.001015 ] In one case, the explosion resulted in a six-inch (15 cm) hole in the patient's large intestine. However, the hole was repaired, and the patient recovered. [ [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_385.html The Straight Dope web site] ]
Usages in popular culture
Many find a comedic value in fart lighting and the activity is increasingly represented in
pop culturepossibly because "for adults, the allure of the vulgar is regressionary and often secretly pleasurable."cite book
title=Carnival Culture – The Trashing of Taste in America
publisher=Columbia University Press, New York
In comic routines
Howard Stern, dubbed a shock jockfor his controversial use of scatological humor on " The Howard Stern Show", cites a fart-lighting scene for losing his popular show's first NBC affiliate when WGIT in Hartford canceled the show.cite web
publisher=Simon & Schuster
The "Flaming Gerbil Legend" was reported by
Robert D. Raifordon the " John Boy and Billy" radio show. [ [http://www.thebigshow.com/00cd_collection/cd_collection.html] ] [ [http://www.markfortson.net/armageddon.wav] ]
Fart lighting is the major
plot devicethat starts the film "". Shortly after the characters are introduced, one character, Kenny McCormickdies after attempting to light one of his own farts on a dare. (Kenny's deaths from odd causes are a running gagin the series). The children make this dare in response to seeing Terrance and Philliplight each other's flatulence in the movie-within-the-movie, "Asses of Fire". After lighting his fart, Kenny combusts and goes to the hospital; through a series of events the doctors replace his heart with a baked potato and it explodes, killing him and sending him to hell. [ [http://www.spscriptorium.com/Treats/SPBLUdraft8.htm South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut - Eighth Draft ] ] Also, in the very first episode of the TV show, " South Park", (" Cartman Gets an Anal Probe"), Cartman shoots fire out of his anus by virtue of an alien satellite dish inserted in his rectum.
A fantasy sequence in "
Dumb and Dumber" depicts the lead character, played by Jim Carrey, lighting a fart as a party trick in polite company. These unusual circumstances for the trick are intentionally jarring; the character's fantasy is established as bizarre and unrealistic. [ [http://members.tripod.com/~scriptsg_den/dumbanddumber.html] ]
In the movie "Dennis the Menace" (1993) Dennis was a "captive" of small time crook Switchblade Sam who in his stupidity, allowed himself to be tied up by Dennis. The key (lost in the tin of baked beans) was to be found by feeding them to Switchblade Sam who was sitting by the fire. Hours later, the beans had their desired effect with flames licking his ankles.Fact|date=October 2007
Extreme Days", the four main male characters are shown in one scene lighting farts in a dark hotel room and laughing hysterically.Fact|date=November 2007
In the 1985 movie "Weekend Warriors", the guardsmen in the unit all cheer on, as one of their number eats beans and then proceeds to engage in pyroflatulence, just as a visiting congressman enters the room. The viewer can see the congressman's shocked face by the light of the flame.Fact|date=January 2008
In the film "
Beavis and Butt-head Do America" the pair encounter their father(s) in the desert. Over the encounter, the elder man resembling Butt-head offers to show something really cool, then farts into the campfire with atomic results. [cite video
Mike Judge(writer), Joe Stillman (writer)
date2 = 1996-12-20
title = Beavis and Butt-head Do America
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115641/
medium = Motion picture
Paramount Pictures, MTV Films
accessdate = 2008-09-12
quote = ]
In the British comedy "Bottom" the character Richard Richard, a 40-year-old virgin played by famous English comedian
Rik Mayall, attempts to sell his soul in order to have sex with beautiful women.cite web
accessdate=2008-02-23] In order to seal his pact he eats the "
sprouts of evil" (sprouts left over from last Christmascooked in currysauce.) Richard also forces his friends to eat some. When the characters regain consciousness hours later; they literally fart flames. One character sets a settee on fire while another ignites a volatile alcohol and destroys the conservatory.(a photo can be seen [http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/bottom/ here] .)
In UPN's sitcom "
Rock Me Baby", two disc jockeys perform the practice on the air. Shortly afterwards, an entire frathouse, inspired by the broadcast, is hospitalized for rectal burning and cauterization after attempting to light their farts—resulting in guilt, heavy fines for the station, and public backlash. [ [http://www.tv.com/rock-me-baby/ring-of-fire/episode/276594/summary.html TV.com web site] ]
In the "
Beavis and Butt-head" episode "Butt Flambé", the duo visit an emergency roomafter Beavis severely burns himself by lighting a fart. [ [http://www.tv.com/beavis-and-butt-head/butt-flambe/episode/58379/recap.html Beavis and Butt-head: Butt Flambe Recap - TV.com ] ]
Family Guy" Viewer mail #1, Chris Griffinreceived the powers of pyrokinesis, and lit Peter Griffin's fart, creating a flame several feet long.cite book
title=Family Guy: The Official Episode Guide Seasons 1–3
publisher=HarperCollins, New York
date=2005; “Family Guy Viewer Mail #1.”, 152–155.] In
14 May 2006" Untitled Griffin Family History"'s episode, the history starts with God fart lighting to produce the Big bangwith the objects of the Milky Way solar systemapparently God's effluence.
Bud Light2004 Super Bowlcommercial featured a horse-drawn carriage in which a couple is building romance and the man hands a woman a lit candle. While he leans down to retrieve the Bud Light; the horse farts and the gases, ignited by the candle flame, cause an explosion and we see the results of the woman's "blown out" hair and soot-covered face. At the end of the commercial a passer-by refers to it as a "Rocket Sleigh". [ [http://www.duncans.tv/2005/bud-light-beer-sleigh-ride Bud Light Sleigh Ride » Television Adverts at Duncan’s TV Ad Land ] ]
In the animated series
Johnny Testa character, Johnny X, has the ability to produce farting flames called "power poots". [ [http://kidswb.warnerbros.com/shows/johnnytest Johnny Test - Watch Kids' WB! every Saturday morning 7AM - 12PM ] ]
The opening theme song to
The Man Showincludes the line "Quit your job and light a fart" and made numerous references to the practice of fart lighting throughout the show's run.
In an episode of the satire puppet show "
Spitting Image", Rupert Murdochuses lighted farts to make toast. [cite web|url=http://www.networkdvd.net/product_info.php?products_id=539|title=Spitting
] [http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1217074,00.html "Spitting Image plans TV comeback"] , "
The Guardian", Monday May 17, 2004]
In an episode of
Kenny vs Spenny. Kenny Hotzattempts to light the fart of his infant nephew in hopes of making a viral video.
2 May 2000, a U.S. patentwas issued for a "Toy gas fired missileand launcher assembly", a product that would allow one's "colonic gases" to be stored for later ignition to "fire the missile into space."cite web
first =Michael F.
coauthor = Philip A. Femano
title=Toy Gas Fired Missile and Launcher Assembly
publisher=U.S. Patent Office, Patent number: 6055910; Filing date: Jun 1, 1998; International Classification - F42B 406
2 May, 2000
Fraternities and sororities
* [http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fart+lighting&search=Search Videos of Fart Lighting on YouTube]
* [http://www.burningfarts.com/ Site devoted to fart lighting]
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