The latest buzz word in the national capital is 'liquid nitrogen,' after a recent incident where a Delhi-based man landed up in hospital after drinking a cocktail, containing liquid nitrogen.
He was diagnosed with a hole in smotach and underwent a major surgery, where the damaged parts of his stomach had to be removed and attached to the small intestines.
But what is liquid nitrogen? Is it safe to drink it? Let us find it out!
# What is liquid nitrogen?
Known scientifically as LN2, liquid nitrogen is an odourless, colourless, non-flammable cryogen, and an extremely cold chemical - with a boiling point of -196°C.
Known scientifically as LN2, liquid nitrogen is a colourless, odourless clear liquid state of nitrogen, at an extremely low temperature. It is a cryogenic fluid that can cause rapid freezing on contact with living tissue.
# Culinary use of liquid nitrogen
In the recent times, it is used by restaurants in the preparation of frozen desserts, such as ice cream, which can be created within moments at the table because of the speed at which it cools food and gives a magical effect. The rapidity of chilling also leads to the formation of smaller ice crystals, which provides the dessert with a smoother texture.
It has also become popular in the preparation of cocktails as it can be used to quickly chill glasses or freeze ingredients. It is also added to drinks to create a smoky effect, occuring as tiny droplets of the liquid nitrogen, which come into contact with the surrounding air, condensing the vapour that is naturally present.
# Is liquid nitrogen safe?
Because of its extremely low temperature, careless handling of liquid nitrogen may result in cold burns. In that case, special gloves should be used while handling. However, a small splash or even pouring on skin will not burn immediately because the evaporating gas thermally insulates to some extent. But, if the liquid nitrogen pools anywhere, it will burn severely.
Ingestion of liquid nitrogen can cause severe internal damage.
Other than the recent case of the Delhi-based man, in 2012, a young woman in England had her stomach removed after ingesting a cocktail made with liquid nitrogen.