Eating a tide pod

Every so many months the internet is taken over by a new “challenge” on social media. Challenges can range from harmless to dangerous; do you remember these ones? The Mannequin Challenge and the Running Man Challenge were done in good fun. Meanwhile, the Ice Bucket Challenge was not only fun to participate in on a hot summer day but also raised money and awareness for ALS, as well.

Sometimes a challenge will have a risk to them, like the Cinamon Challenge. The objective was to eat a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without the aid of any liquid. Many of these videos seemed harmless and featured the participants coughing up a cloud of powder. Unfortunately, the challenge did have some dangers to it. These risks included the chance of choking, triggering asthma attacks and an overall threat to your lungs.

The latest challenge to have taken over the internet is called the Tide Pod Challenge. It’s incredibly dangerous – but that’s not stopping teens from participating in it.

What does it involve?

The challenge is for the participant to ingest poisonous Tide Pods. Tide Pods, otherwise known as laundry detergent pods are laundry detergent, softener, and other kinds of soaps encased in dissolvable plastic packs. They make doing laundry much easier because there’s no measurement needed, you just throw it into the washer with your laundry.

Participants film themselves eating the cleaning pods and then upload the video to social media, many of the participants are teenagers looking to gain views on their videos by doing outlandish things like eating the pods.

How Did It Start?

Laundry detergent pods launched in 2012 and came with controversy. The soaps in the packaging often contain bright colours like blue and red that could easily be confused with candy. Unfortunately, many toddlers have eaten the pod and have resulted in a few deaths. It has resulted in numbers that have never been seen before of children eating poisons.

The pods haven’t only impacted toddlers in a negative way, but also seniors. A senior suffering from dementia died after eating the pods at a care facility.

The sparker of this trend may be a College Humor video that was posted in March of 2017. In the video titled “Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods. (Seriously. They’re Poison.)”, a college student is tempted to eat the pods. After researching to find out how dangerous the pods are, he still eats a bowl full of them. At the end, as he is suffering from the effects of the poison laying on a backboard he says, “I don’t regret it.

Why are they so dangerous?

Not all pods are the same; their contents differ from company to company. One thing that remains consistent with them is that they all contain ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and soap.

These contents are great for cleaning your clothing, but they’re not meant to be ingested. With the three ingredients that we listed earlier, as well as whatever else is inside them, they can burn through the lining of your mouth and stomach. The ingredients are enclosed in a toxic film that is meant to be dissolved by the water in your washing machine.

If you eat one, your saliva dissolves the toxic film that encases the pod, and the ingredients inside the pod are released. The ingredients will then begin to burn your mouth; toxicologists call these burns caustic meaning that these burns will eat away at the tissues of your gums and inner cheeks. As the pods’ ingredients flow through you, it will burn everything it comes into contact with including your esophagus, stomach, and more.  While this is happening, the person who has eaten it will begin to vomit and have intense diarrhea.

That isn’t all that these little pods will do to you. If you don’t seek medical attention your lungs can fill with fluid, this can cause respiratory arrest. At the same time, your body is absorbing the toxins; these can get into your bloodstream and organs. If that happens, the person will suffer seizures, coma, and soon enough death.

There isn’t an exact time frame of how long you have to seek help and suffer death, it all depends. In previous cases of accidental ingestion, death has happened within a few short hours and in other cases taken days.

Procter and Gamble, the maker of leading brand laundry pods, including the Tide Pods, says its product should be used only to clean clothes and should never be ingested, even as a joke.