You may have seen your fair share of drinks with liquid nitrogen added to them. We have even featured a few drinks on the show. Liquid nitrogren gives drinks a cool smokey effect and is also a great way to keep drinks cold without diluting them with water. However, as one girl found out last week, liquid nitrogen can be harmful.
18 year-old, Gabby Scanlon, was out drinking in Lancaster, England for her birthday when after consuming a liquid nitrogen drink, she felt short of breath and started to experience stomach pains. She was then taken to a hospital where doctors diagnosed her with a perforated stomach and were forced to remove the organ.
Liquid Nitrogen is often used as a freezing agent and can kill skin cells when directly exposed. Small amounts, however are often used in drinks for the smoke that is produced as the liquid warms. Liquid Nitrogen was deemed safe for this purpose because the liquid would usually burn off into a gas before consumption. In Ms. Scanlon’s case, she most likely consumed too much liquid nitrogen before allowing it to change state. Once in the stomach, the nitrogen made contact with her stomach walls, freezing and killing the tissue.
Oscar’s Wine Bar, which served the drink, has been banned from serving drinks with the chemical for the time being, however Liquid Nitrogen is still legal to be served with drinks in then UK and the US. This unfortunate event will most likely bring on a new debate on how safe liquid nitrogen really is. Time to determine if a fancy drink gimmick is worth the risk of a perforated stomach. Not saying you should avoid the Liquid Nitrogen drinks, but we advise you let the chemical burn into its gas state first.