It’s as strong as battery acid and can melt steel. But it lives inside of us and helps digest our food. This is stomach acid.
Is stomach acid dangerous? If it’s this powerful, why doesn’t it hurt us? And what would happen if we jumped into a pool full of the stuff?
That’s right. Stomach acid is compared to battery acid in terms of the damage it can do. It can range from a 1 to 3 on the pH scale, meaning it’s extremely acidic.
That’s because stomach acid’s main component is hydrochloric acid, which is a highly corrosive substance. The reason it can live inside us is due to a special mucous membrane that lines our stomachs. But what would happen if we covered all our skin with it?
Now, before we jump into a pool full stomach acid, we’ll first need to figure out just how we’d be able to fill up an entire pool with the stuff. Let’s assume we’re swimming in an average 6×6 meter (19.6×19.6 feet) pool that can hold about 55,000 liters (about 12,100 gallons) of liquid. A stomach can produce at most, 1.5 liters (0.3 gallons) of stomach acid a day. So to fill up an entire pool, we’d need the stomachs of over 50,000 people.
Okay, we found 50,000 volunteers who were able to help us fill up this pool. Before you even jump into it, you’re going to notice the awful smell.
Whenever there’s excess acid in your digestive tract, it can cause your breath to stink. So multiply that by 50,000, and you’d get an idea of how awful the pool would smell. You’d be surrounded by a horrible bad breath odor.
And that’s even before you jump in. As soon as you take the plunge, you’ll feel stinging in your eyes and your nostrils.
To get a sense of what this might feel like, have you ever had lemon juice squirted in your eye? It would be similar to that, as lemon juice and stomach acid have a similar pH level.
But if you remember to bring your goggles and nose plugs, you’ll hopefully be able to avoid this part. What’s much less avoidable is the stomach acid making contact with your skin.
When it does, it will cause some mild irritation right away. Luckily, the epidermis layer of your skin should be able to protect you before it starts to hurt too badly.
If you jump into the pool and hop right back out, even with your skin all covered in stomach acid, you’d be relatively okay, apart from some mild irritation. As long as you wash the acid off with soap and water and towel off, you’ll be totally fine. But what if you stayed in the stomach acid for much longer?
If you didn’t get out right away, the acid would slowly eat your skin. This would eventually leave you covered in second-and third-degree burns. If you didn’t manage to cover your eyes during the swim, you’d slowly lose your vision and end up blind. And your nose would dissolve from the inside if the acid touched it long enough.
Oh, and if you accidentally swallow some of it, you’ll inevitably vomit it back up, along with anything else you ate earlier in the day.
So no, don’t try this. It’s best to leave stomach acid where it belongs, and that’s inside of us, digesting our food.
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