Why do we find other people’s saliva so gross? We each produce about two bathtubs of the stuff every year, so why do we freak out when even a drop of someone else’s saliva comes near us?
Getting the odd splash of saliva from a “spitty talker” isn’t going to kill you, but what if you were submerged in a large volume of it? What kind of dangers would you be exposed to?
The average-sized swimming pool in America has a volume of about 51,000 liters (13,000 gallons.) If you were to try and fill this pool with just your own spit, it would take you about 93 years, since you only produce about 1.5 liters a day.
So you would need some other people to help out — and by some people, we mean thousands of them continuously spitting into the pool at the same time. But even with all these people, it would still take a long time to produce enough saliva to fill an entire pool.
So is there anything else we could do to speed up the process? And would you really want to dive in once it was filled?
Okay, so let’s say you’re getting really impatient as you wait for your volunteers to fill up this pool. Here are a couple of tips to increase everyone’s saliva production.
For starters, and this one’s pretty obvious, drink more water! Then start handing out as much chewing gum as you can. Chewing cues the salivary glands to get to work and start producing more saliva.
Also, you’re going to need to tell your volunteers to avoid coffee, alcohol, and anything to do with tobacco or vaping, as they can all cause a severely dry mouth. And don’t worry; if that’s not speeding things up enough, there’s still another trick up our sleeves.
If you think about food, see it or smell it, a reflex signal is sent to a portion of your brain called the medulla oblongata; that’s where your salivary centers are. So, if you were to place a bunch of food that looks and smells fantastic around the pool, that would fire up everyone’s nerve signals to get that saliva flowing!
Once the pool is completely full, all you’d need to do is to dive in. But as you stare down at the lukewarm slime bath of DNA samples, you’ll start to realize that you don’t really know anything about the substance you’re about to jump into. So maybe you should get acquainted first.
Saliva is 98 percent water, with the other two percent consisting of things like bicarbonate, sodium and potassium, plus other active ingredients. Saliva not only adds some lubrication to help us swallow our food, it also protects our teeth and gums from stomach acids, and wards off the billions of microbes that are in our mouth at any given time.
That’s right; the human mouth is a pretty gross place. It can contain up to 700 different varieties of bacteria, and one of the easiest ways to transfer those bacteria to other people is through your spit.
And that’s what makes this whole saliva pool idea pretty dangerous. Some of the fun things that can be passed on through saliva include colds, flu virus, herpes, hepatitis B and C, avian flu, and ebola!
So if you want to avoid all that, you’re going to want to make sure you have no open cuts or wounds when you jump into the pool. Oh, and definitely keep your mouth closed. Even if you could confirm that every one of your spit donors was clean of the conditions above, you still wouldn’t want to swallow mouthfuls of their saliva.
Not only would it be gross, but it would also make you dehydrated. Because saliva contains high concentrations of proteins and enzymes, drinking it would cause the fluids in your body to flow towards it, and not toward your dehydrated cells.
As for the actual experience of jumping into the saliva pool, it’d be just like swimming in thick, frothy water; and you’d probably want to wear nose plugs. Because saliva carries so much bacteria, it can also have quite an unpleasant smell. It’s something you’d want to wash off immediately after your swim, because the scent would only get worse as it dries on you.
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