Aug 26

What’s in a Fart?

14137957_10154056611737955_1767960770_nEverybody farts, and if people claim they never fart, tell them they should immediately see a doctor. Farting is amazingly individual with the average person farting somewhere between 10 and 25 times per day. The different smells are a result of the various chemical compositions of the gas “expulsion” and these chemical compositions are as unique as fingerprints. The gas comes from a variety of sources such as swallowed air, gut bacteria, as well as the food and drink we consume. However, a significant factor in the composition of a fart is your own personal biochemistry, i.e. your genetics and the particular bacteria that live in your gut, which is why every fart has its own “character”.

Most farts are composed of nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen and depending on the person, some hydrogen sulfide, methane and various other trace gases. The last three gases in that list are the reason you can light farts, and your unique gas mixture can produce uniquely coloured flames, for example, people who produce a larger amount of methane produce a blue flame. *Please note Sci-gasm does not encourage lighting farts, people get burnt, but if you just have to test for yourself, here is some safety advice.

Some farts smell bad because of the amount of sulphur compounds in your system. Sulfur dioxide is the primary reason some people’s butt burps can make your eyes water. This gas is also produced in volcanos and is known as the “rotten egg gas”. Hydrogen sulphide is also known to pack a bit of a punch to the ol’ nasal passage. You can decrease (or increase) the amount of sulfur rich compounds you pass by changing the amount of sulfur rich foods you consume; these include meats, eggs and brocolli (I bet I can predict which one you cut down on).

Food which can vary the amount of gas you produced include high fibre foods and foods with low ratios of proteins to sugars, such as jams and pickled goods. Just to be clear, increasing your consumption of these foods will increase how often you fart, or the size of your farts, most likely both. Curiously, massive consumption of artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol (also found in apples), can lead to dramatic increases in fart gases as well as other distasteful experiences, best summed up in these comments.

When I was younger and in appropriate company, I made a fairly impressive contribution to the scent of a room, a friend of mine commented that they thought the smell was somehow pleasing, sternly defending that they did not like the smell of all farts. While I thought that was weird, neuroscientists looking at particular neural pathways in the brain, found that more adventurous people were also more likely to enjoy the smell of farts. Researchers, using blindfolded subjects, have also confirmed a popular idea that everyone likes the smell of their own farts. So like wine, it seems to depend on your personal “tastes”, although superior to wine, you have an added acoustic aspect to enjoy with flatulence.

Farts are your own small contribution to the atmosphere, ensuring elements are returned to the environment to be recycled. So remember, in every fart is a small part of you and a large part of the stuff your body didn’t need.

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