Dangerous comment, please delete September 18, 2004 11:04 AM   Subscribe

This isn't funny. Though I concede that the probability of anyone actually doing it is remote, the comment is nonetheless inappropriate.
posted by Kwantsar to Etiquette/Policy at 11:04 AM (67 comments total)

It's frightening that there are people out there too stupid to get the (lame, non-helpful, and delete-worthy for that reason alone) joke, but there are.

The shit tide in Ask is rising.
posted by majick at 11:37 AM on September 18, 2004


Hmmm. I think you're confusing stupidity and ignorance, there, majick; not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course.

The Dangers of Mixing Bleach and Ammonia.
posted by nthdegx at 12:49 PM on September 18, 2004


Actually it's both funny and inappropriate like Cowschwitz.
posted by euphorb at 12:56 PM on September 18, 2004


Eh, it's sort of the same thing as the old "you can solve the problem by pressing CTRL, ALT, and DEL at the same time" Usenet response. "Hey, everyone, I'm a total cock" just doesn't sound as clever, y'know?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:07 PM on September 18, 2004


Who's ignorant, the person who's never heard of this before?
posted by smackfu at 1:39 PM on September 18, 2004


I didn't know about the deadly combo until I was 19 and actually starting to clean my own domicile and I mentioned the idea using both ammonia based cleaners and bleach and got the low down.

Stupid probably wouldn't have described me at that point in my life.
posted by weston at 2:04 PM on September 18, 2004


Stupid is someone who's been told that it's a deadly combination, but thinks it would be fun to see what actuallyl happens and somehow expects he'll be an exception to what harm it causes. But it's not as if anyone here figured out through the powers of deductive reasoning that they have a toxic interaction. I mean, they're both pretty nasty chemicals so maybe it seems somewhat intuitive, but they're also very common ingredients in cleaners - unless you're a chemist by trade or you've had some unlucky experiences, you only know this because someone warned you.
posted by mdn at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2004


Suppose the reader was in good faith and tried the combination ..much like when you go to a doctor and the doctor recommends you a cure without telling you how dangerous it is. The blame would be on the doctor, so I'd say kick that loser out of meta once and forever.
posted by elpapacito at 3:56 PM on September 18, 2004


I got a better answer, elpapacito! We could make it so his posts go:

"posted by DUMB PERSON (crazy finger) at 7:00 AM EDT on September 11"

LOL. Seriously, I am pretty sure nothing will come of this. CALM DOWN EVERYONE.
posted by shepd at 4:54 PM on September 18, 2004


The poster made an apparently serious suggestion which might well kill if followed.

The post should be deleted and the poster banned.
posted by bowline at 4:59 PM on September 18, 2004


I don't know about you, but at 21 years of age I've never heard of this being lethal. I'm almost a college graduate and I consder myself to be intelligent, however on this particular topic I appear to be quite ignorant.

So yes, there are a few of us who potentially might've got ourselves in trouble with it. Definitely not funny and I'd suggest removing it ASAP.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2004


what everyone else said -- offering "ctrl+alt+del" as a quick way to save your current document, or "nohup rm -rf / &" as a way to clean off viruses (for good!) won't kill you. Bleach and Ammonia will.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:14 PM on September 18, 2004


I'd never heard of this. Thankfully I have now. Is it something you are supposed to learn in school, or just pick up accidentally by browsing the web?
posted by Meridian at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2004


My high school science teacher died this way. He was trying to clean a stubborn burner. Seriously.
posted by ColdChef at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2004


I'd never heard of this. Thankfully I have now. Is it something you are supposed to learn in school, or just pick up accidentally by browsing the web?

I actually know this from owning cats; in fact I even mentioned this in an AskMe thread a few months ago. Cat urine contains significant amounts of ammonia, therefore you shold never use bleach or any bleach-based cleanser to wash out their litter boxes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:30 PM on September 18, 2004


I knew this a long time ago, it promptly disappeared into the memory vault, and before reading the comment I wouldn't have instinctively recognized the problem. So yeah. Bad Thing.

(Is there a website collecting all the factoids that people really should know, but most don't?)
posted by PrinceValium at 6:33 PM on September 18, 2004


I know this probably wouldn't happen, but if someone did follow this advice after reading AskMe - couldn't they sue Matt?
posted by xammerboy at 6:36 PM on September 18, 2004


I didn't mean the above comment to be alarmist, but it probably is a good idea if Matt has a section of MeFi called "Ask MeFi" that there be some kind of disclaimer. I never thought about that before.
posted by xammerboy at 6:38 PM on September 18, 2004


"The kid who eats the most marbles doesn't grow up to have kids of his own"
posted by bob sarabia at 6:39 PM on September 18, 2004


too stupid to get the ... joke

I think "stupid" is a bit of a harsh word. You have to hear about it at some point in order to know about it, unless you're just a chemistry whiz. Reading it on a warning label is a good way to find out. I guess people who don't read all of every warning label could be called "stupid," but unfortunately, I think that includes all of us.

Obviously this is not the way you'd want someone to hear about this for the first time. The location of the stupidity in this picture is pretty clear.
posted by scarabic at 6:41 PM on September 18, 2004


if you've ever worked as a janitor, or in fast food you probably already know this. I thought most people did, but it's probably not a good idea to suggest it to someone if they don't know your kidding. I'm pretty sure you'd be liable for their death/injury.

oh yeah, this was also on an episode of "who's the boss".
posted by bob sarabia at 6:42 PM on September 18, 2004



LOL. Seriously, I am pretty sure nothing will come of this. CALM DOWN EVERYONE.


Yeah. Let's have some peace and quiet around here. If an AskMe answer gives you lethal advice, just scroll past it.
posted by scarabic at 6:45 PM on September 18, 2004


Best. scroll-past-it. snark. evah.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:05 PM on September 18, 2004


I've never heard of this either. And I do think this could have had some bad consequences. Crazy finger, I bet you meant that as a joke, but as with all practical jokes, there's always a possiblity of it backfiring. You should never assume that everyone else knows what you know.
posted by orange swan at 7:40 PM on September 18, 2004


Hmm. I didnt know about this.

I think its wrong to assume that everyone knows about what you think is obvious. We all miss a few things.

Haven't you all had the experience of sitting around with a group of friends chatting only to discover that one of you (sometimes you) wasnt aware of some bit of cultural trivia or something that everyone else knew? In a forum like Metafilter, I'd imagine this effect is even greater.
posted by vacapinta at 8:07 PM on September 18, 2004


if someone did follow this advice after reading AskMe - couldn't they sue Matt?

Not if they're, you know, dead.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know this.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:24 PM on September 18, 2004


Funny how many people didn't know this. Me, I got it from a "Dear Abby" sometime in 1976 or so.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:41 PM on September 18, 2004


I bet Kwantsar saved a few lives today.

Me, I've long known about this but also observed the effect due to pissy dogs.

After using bleach-based cleansers on Ammonia laden piss spots, I just hold my breath and turn on the fans - but that's only the euuivalent of a very light gas attack.

coldchef - High school science teachers are a dangerous lot. A little knowledge goes a long way. Towards......
posted by troutfishing at 9:29 PM on September 18, 2004


I get a lot of email from people that try *everything* suggested in Ask MetaFilter answers, so please, don't post lethal advice as a joke, because chances are someone, somewhere might actually try it. Seriously.

And I didn't know about this until grad school. And even knowing this, I frequently use a clorox wipe thing to clean the edges of the cats' litter box. Now I know why I find the smell so unpleasant -- IT'S DEADLY.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:32 PM on September 18, 2004


I would just like to say that I spent a good ten minutes laughing at 'Cowschwitz'. And then I Googled for it and found a page that referred to it as 'Cowschwitz/Birkencow', and I was off all over again.

And I'd never heard of not mixing bleach and ammonia (obviously I have now, though). Then again, I wouldn't follow cleaning tips that I got from Ask MeFi anyway. The "I heard that..." form of the post made it pretty clear that it was a suggestion along the lines of "omg pressing Alt+F4 does something really cool!"

Also, anyone who tries everything posted on AskMe is a tool.
posted by reklaw at 9:39 PM on September 18, 2004


Also, anyone who tries everything posted on AskMe is a tool.

You may be the most condescending asshole in this place, reklaw, and that's saying something because this place is made up of 17000+ interweb users.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:50 PM on September 18, 2004


I thought it was more like a few thousand people plus several thousand unused accounts...

But seriously, you'd have to have a lot of time on your hands. And be a bit dim.
posted by reklaw at 9:57 PM on September 18, 2004


But seriously, you'd have to have a lot of time on your hands. And be a bit dim.

Let's see. User x has a weird smell in his new fridge and is fairly desperate to get it out. Some of the suggestions are fairly common sense, ones that they've tried before, so they pick one or two they haven't heard before to try. One of them happens to be lethal.

Not that big of a stretch to try to fix a problem which drove you to a website of seemingly dependable answers. If we're to believe AskMe is a useful resource, it's got to have useful, trustworthy answers. Not jokes that everyone might not get.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 10:04 PM on September 18, 2004


reklaw - very little time really : and only carelessness, inattention, or simply a lack of exposure to the deadly details : Chemical Weapons History

As coldchef related - about his high school science techer who died from a self-made "gas-attack" - this can be as simple as "Oh shit - Death!"

Meanwhile - "In the great carnage of 1916-17 there were approximately 17,700 gas casualties counting the Somme, Chemin des Dames, and Passchendaele alone. These numbers would grow considerably higher due to the large number of deaths after the war that would be directly attributed to gas exposure. Despite this high casualty count for both sides, the use of gas continued to grow. By 1918, one in every four artillery shells fired contained gas of one type or another.

In 1918 a German corporal by the name of Adolf Hitler was temporarily blinded by a British gas attack in Flanders. Having suffered the agonies of gas first hand, his fear of the weapon would prevent him from deploying it as a tactical weapon on the battlefields of the Second World War. "
(from here)
posted by troutfishing at 10:10 PM on September 18, 2004


"I get a lot of email from people that try *everything* suggested in Ask MetaFilter answers..." - Uh oh.

Predictable, I guess. *cringes*
posted by troutfishing at 10:11 PM on September 18, 2004


And don't go sticking butter-knives into electrical sockets either - sudden death can ensue.
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 PM on September 18, 2004


I guess I missed this discussion while I was at work today, but I am sorry for making an inappropriate comment. I thought I had added a comment immediately afterward that made it more clear to be a joke, but I can't remember and it's been deleted now. Anyway, I didn't know that so many people were unaware of this but I guess everybody is unaware of at least something that could kill them. I certainly didn't mean this to come across as me being a cock, it was intended only as a joke.

On the bright side, I guess everybody here knows about mustard gas now.

In the future, I'll use better judgement. Also, I guess I haven't been banned, nor kicked out forever, so thanks for being reasonable Matt.
posted by crazy finger at 10:18 PM on September 18, 2004


This deal has expired.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:19 PM on September 18, 2004


AS - Good thing, that.

CVS seemed to be advertising them as similar products. Why wouldn't customers think of mixing them ?
posted by troutfishing at 10:25 PM on September 18, 2004


There's a litterbox and a bottle of ammonia in our apartment, and I didn't know not to get bleach near them. I also had a Kryptonite lock until the other day. It's been an educational week.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:30 PM on September 18, 2004


I don't know about you, but at 21 years of age I've never heard of this being lethal. I'm almost a college graduate and I consder myself to be intelligent, however on this particular topic I appear to be quite ignorant.

Same. And unless it says "DON'T MIX WITH AMMONIA" extra big on the side of the bleach bottle, I would probably not notice it -- the fine print on the bleach bottle I always assumed was stuff I already knew about (do not drink, et cetera).
posted by rafter at 10:31 PM on September 18, 2004


Also, be weary of using clog removers such as Draino on totally drained plugs- there is a difference between slow clog and standing water clog removers. Doing so can cause normal slow drain draino to react violently in the standing water either busting a pipe wide open or having water + drano come flying back at the user. Be sure to carefully read the labels, really. I've seen the effects first hand.

On the bright side, I guess everybody here knows about mustard gas now.
In case anyone missed that, it's because household bleach contains NaOCl. Combine that with NH3 (ammonia) and you get
2NaOCl + 2NH3 --> 2NaONH3 + Cl2 (mustard gas)
Unless somebody are explicitely said that, I'll just run away now.
posted by jmd82 at 10:41 PM on September 18, 2004


The more that I mull this over, the worse I feel about it. I really didn't realize that so few people knew about this and I guess I've learned a lesson about making assumptions. I suppose it is similar to warning labels that people make fun of on many consumer products. Many people joke and wonder who would be stupid enough to do X with product Y, but the reality is that some people just might not know.

I certainly didn't learn about this in school, although I think it should have been mentioned somewhere in kindergarten. My friend's uncle was cleaning a tiled room and he had a bucket of bleach on the floor below a table with a bottle of ammonia. As he was working away at cleaning the tiles, he knocked the table and the ammonia fell directly into the bleach. He definitely had an "OH SHIT" moment as he thought he was a dead man, but he threw himself through a window and managed to survive.

Many times on the news or in conversation, I've heard people say that the right combination of products from under your sink could be used to create deadly weapons. I realize now though that they never mention which products, probably to avoid liability. The ammonia and bleach thing, though, is something that everybody should know about, especially since people often use them together or in similar situations.

Anyway, I'm really sorry for the comment.
posted by crazy finger at 10:45 PM on September 18, 2004


Mustard gas is not the same thing as chlorine gas, and is much more deadly than chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is more dangerous than many other toxic gases partly because it doesn't dissapate very easily. It's heavier than air and will stay pretty close to the ground. That's helpful unless you're close to the ground as someone might be who's scrubbing a stain on the floor. (Or leaning into the enclosed space of a bathtub.)

Chlorine gas releases are not uncommon with train derailments and similar accidents.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:46 PM on September 18, 2004


Haven't read every comment here, but yeah I've known this since I was . . . fuff, ten, I think. I thought everbody knew this one - chlorine gas causes paralysis of the respiratory system leading to death via suffocation.
posted by Ryvar at 10:52 PM on September 18, 2004


Anyway, I'm really sorry for the comment.

Hey, it mutated into a PSA in MetaTalk. Every cloud (ahem) has a silver lining.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:56 PM on September 18, 2004


Also, EB is right - chlorine gas and mustard gas are not the same thing, and circumstances have to be right in order for you to die of chlorine gas - my mother used to mix ammonia and bleach all the time before they started printing those warnings on bottles of each not to do that. Admittedly, she did it in a very, very well-ventilated basement and our washing machine happened to have a venting hood over it, so she was pretty lucky there.

My point is, in reality it's more one of those "get out of the room, turn on a fan, take a nice walk if you're paranoid" dealies than a 4-alarm evactuate the house and call the fire department problem. On the flip side of the coin, it does (or at least used to, prior to the huge warning labels) kill a couple hundred housewives a year.
posted by Ryvar at 11:03 PM on September 18, 2004


And don't go sticking butter-knives into electrical sockets either - sudden death can ensue.

I actually did this very thing at a young age, and fortunately came through the experience unscathed, but I wouldn't recommend it, really.
posted by weston at 11:36 PM on September 18, 2004


weston - I've been shocked more times than I want to recall. Even by electricity.

Wasn't Michael Jackson in the habit of shocking himself recreationally or for health reasons ?

[ It's important to keep the other had away from the torso so the juice doesn't stop one's heart. Just saying, and don't try this with house current ( AC ) or stronger ]

"My point is, in reality it's more one of those "get out of the room, turn on a fan, take a nice walk if you're paranoid" dealies than a 4-alarm evactuate the house and call the fire department problem." - Ryvar, that's my experience too. But, then, you know the danger and have your wits about you - 2 distinct advantages.
posted by troutfishing at 11:48 PM on September 18, 2004


in reality it's more one of those "get out of the room, turn on a fan, take a nice walk if you're paranoid" dealies

Yeahhh, I guess so. I learned this lesson the hard way - working in food service and mixing Comet into some floormop-solution to make it "stronger." The smell was awful and definitely gave me a bit of a headache, but it was pretty obvious I needed to just leave the room and not do that again.

But then, I'm not really sure what the concentrations of bleach in Comet, or ammonia in the floormop solution really were. Possibly, they were quite low.

Props to crazy_finger for the earnest reconsideration, and job well done all-around on the PSA. We're pooling our evolutionary chances here, people. And who said nothing was ever accomplished on MetaTalk?
posted by scarabic at 11:53 PM on September 18, 2004


LIke I said, chlorine gas is heavier than air and so if you had been down on your hands and knees near the floor, you might have been overwhelmed by the gas, rendered unconscious, and then it would have killed you. The facts that chlorine gas doesn't dissipate easily and is heavier than air are both bad and good. It's good because it means that you probably don't have to dive through the window when you drop a bottle of ammonia into the bleach. It's bad in that everything can seem fine and then suddenly you're in a pocket of chlorine, you breath it, and pass out and then possibly die.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:51 AM on September 19, 2004


"I don't know about you, but at 21 years of age I've never heard of this being lethal. I'm almost a college graduate and I consder myself to be intelligent, however on this particular topic I appear to be quite ignorant."

This is what I meant when I said it was a case of ignorance rather than stupidity - I didn't mean that someone who was unaware of this was ignorant full stop, just ignorant of this particular point. Interesting that no one came out and actually explained what the problem was until relatively late in the discussion.

crazy finger, your follow up comment was "(FOREVER)".
posted by nthdegx at 2:56 AM on September 19, 2004


Not to be ridiculously alarmist, either, but have we heard from milovoo lately?
posted by nthdegx at 3:13 AM on September 19, 2004


It should be noted that death by this method is rather unlikely. Being a curious young tyke who would grow up to be a chemist, the first thing I did after reading the "don't mix with bleach" message on the ammonia and "don't mix with ammonia" on the bleach was, of course, to mix them together. You would have to have an iron constitution to inhale enough of it to kill you, the white fumes that come off burn like the infernal fires of hell in your lungs. This isn't some silent killer like carbon monoxide, it puts your brain into immediate fight or flight mode. As a matter of fact, now that I think about the subject I had a friend try to kill herself by inhaling just these fumes. Luckily, it was far too painful for her to finish the deed.

I learned the lesson about drain openers the hard way too. In that first magical year living out of the dorms, I attacked a clog with professional strength drain opener. It's amazing what they'll sell to any old fool at Home Depot, as this was nothing but very strong sulfuric acid. Unbeknownst to me, someone else living in the house had previously treated it with Drano, which contains bleach, and doesn't mix well with strong acids at all. That was just the first of three times that house had to be cleared because of accidents that generated poisonous gasses. My roommates learned that if they saw me running for the door, they should quickly follow and ask questions later.

*sigh* I miss college.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:05 AM on September 19, 2004


It's not that unlikely, my friends aunt died from ammonia and bleach.
posted by substrate at 6:29 AM on September 19, 2004


*sticks butter knife in toaster*

I'm shocked, shocked!
posted by soyjoy at 10:00 AM on September 19, 2004


Not to be ridiculously alarmist, either, but have we heard from milovoo lately?

I'm here - I was off-line visiting the family, and I missed the whole controversy.
(and I already knew the hazards of bleach and ammonia, learned the hard way when I was a kid)
posted by milovoo at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2004


From the dumb experiences department: do not try to burn carpet adhesive off a cement floor with gasoline.
posted by mischief at 10:50 AM on September 19, 2004


Ta ;)
posted by nthdegx at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2004


It's not that unlikely, my friends aunt died from ammonia and bleach.

For your sample size of 1, what's the margin of error on that data? ;-)

You would have to ignore some pretty strong warning signs in order to be killed by this, it seriously feels like you're inhaling fire. If you had limited mobility or respiratory ailments the chances of death would increase dramatically, but it would be very hard for a healthy person to ignore the excruciating pain long enough to build up enough fumes to kill them, even in an enclosed space.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:20 PM on September 19, 2004


Nice. You refute findings from a sample size of 1 with estimations based on a sample size of 0.
posted by scarabic at 7:31 PM on September 19, 2004


Dude, those are not sample sizes. Those are sample positive group sizes. Sample sizes would be all the people you know/knew personally.

[/stat dork]

I've been shocked loads of times, I think even with both hands as terminals (i.e. through the heart), but all with dry skin and with AC. That's what matters. Do it with wet skin and you'll get damage before your muscles jerk back. Do it with strong enough DC and your muscles will spasm around the contact point instead of twitching off it.
posted by azazello at 7:47 PM on September 19, 2004


Nice. You refute findings from a sample size of 1 with estimations based on a sample size of 0.

If you will note my previous post in this topic, I cite 3 occasions of people producing the dreaded chloramine gasses (which quickly degrade to chlorine) and surviving. One of these was an intentional deep inhalation, and one of them (the clogged sink incident which produced much the same gasses) was a massive and violent reaction.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:53 PM on September 19, 2004


Metafilter - my anecdotal evidence is better than your anecdotal evideice

/research geek
posted by TungstenChef at 9:12 PM on September 19, 2004


I talked to my organic chemistry PhD Dad about this. Exactly what you get is highly dependent both on the concentrations of the respective cleaners AND the proportions. Most people are lucky, but not everyone. If you're really unlucky, you can even get ammonium chloride, which is extremely explosive. So maybe nothing bad would have happened, but given the context it was a good idea to delete this.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:37 PM on September 19, 2004


how about eating matches?
posted by ZippityBuddha at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2004


no problem - just don't forget to ignite them before eating.
posted by azazello at 11:08 AM on September 20, 2004


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