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Author Topic: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?  (Read 390 times)

Offline thedoc

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Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« on: 21/09/2016 21:23:02 »
Anonymous asked the Naked Scientists:
   Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction because I mixed 2 month old faeces and clorox and bubbles appeared and it started smelling bad really bad and I'm worried with my phone number you can only text me.
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 21/09/2016 21:23:02 by _system »


 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« Reply #1 on: 21/09/2016 14:49:05 »
...this sounds like the opening to a horror movie!

In all seriousness, though: open the windows, close the door, and leave the room if you are not working outside or in a well ventilated area.

Bleach is a solution of sodium hypochlorite, which is fairly reactive stuff (that's why we use it) and will react with almost any biotic matter, given the opportunity. I have a few guesses for what the gas could be, and why they would form:

1) If there was a substantial amount of urine in the mixture, and had 2 months to ferment first, there is a good chance that there is ammonia in the mix. Ammonia is known to react (potentially violently) with bleach to form chloramines, hydrazine, and chlorine gas--all of which are very toxic.

2) Chlorine gas could form if the mixture was too acidic, but I would be surprised if that lead to vigorous bubbling using a 5% solution (common household bleach)...

3) There could already have been a significant amount of gas trapped in the faeces, which was released when the mess was disturbed. This would probably be methane, maybe some CO2. Nothing to worry about, but would smell very bad because of all the crap!
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« Reply #2 on: 21/09/2016 19:32:27 »
After two months I would have not been sheeprised if the Faeces was not developing it's own intelligence !!   who knows what other stuff had been attracted to the faeces after two weeks, yet alone two months.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« Reply #3 on: 21/09/2016 20:33:12 »
Where you find human faeces, you can usually expect to find urine too.
The urea in urine will react with hypochlorite to form (mainly) nitrogen gas which will disperse the odours of all the materials present.
 

Offline SquarishTriangle

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Re: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« Reply #4 on: 23/09/2016 12:58:18 »
Is it the human that is 2 months old, or the faeces?

Now I'm picturing poor Anonymous anxiously standing over a 2 month old human scat, waiting for a text to inform them of their fate. I hope they've left the room.
 

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Re: Can human faeces cause a chemical reaction?
« Reply #4 on: 23/09/2016 12:58:18 »

 

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