Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


We release our poisions like Styrofoam- Fugazi
May 10, 2009 8:31 PM   Subscribe

Omega-3 fats are considered highly beneficial for the body. It may be important to take supplements because our bodies don't create it naturally. A nurse however, recently discovered that some supplements can make holes on Styrofoam cups.
posted by Lucubrator (46 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
why on earth would you take supplements when tuna, salmon, sardines & herrings are so incredibly tasty?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Water can dissolve salt and sugar. QUICK DON'T DRINK IT!!!111ONE!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:41 PM on May 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Ubu, mercury levels. But, you can eat fish and take the pills.
posted by stavrogin at 8:42 PM on May 10, 2009


From the description on YT:

omega-3 breaking down styrofoam cup like it breaks down fat in your blood vessels

Uuhhh, no.

why on earth would you take supplements when tuna, salmon, sardines & herrings are so incredibly tasty?

Because it's easier, and I don't have to eat fish all the time nor worry about all the impurities in the fish
posted by P.o.B. at 8:42 PM on May 10, 2009


Oh thank Science I'm not a styrofoam cup.
posted by idiotfactory at 8:43 PM on May 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oil floats, so why did it eat a hole in the bottom of the cup?
posted by 445supermag at 8:44 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


sigh
posted by grobstein at 8:49 PM on May 10, 2009


Impurities in the fish, and the general shortage of fish. The latter may be the greater concern.

Petroleum jelly dissolves latex. Gasoline dissolves styrofoam, too.
posted by Goofyy at 8:50 PM on May 10, 2009


This is why bass smoothies make such a mess.
posted by hal9k at 8:52 PM on May 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


Pseudomonas also eats styrofoam, ergo we must use it to clean our polluted blood vessels.
posted by benzenedream at 9:05 PM on May 10, 2009


big whoop.

orange oil also dissolves styrofoam.
posted by selenized at 9:06 PM on May 10, 2009


This is stupid.

Of course boiling water dissolves styrofoam cups. What's the point of this post?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:09 PM on May 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


> This is why bass smoothies make such a mess.

When I throw up, you mean? Thanks, I'll stick to chicken lattés and jalopeno steamers.
posted by Decimask at 9:12 PM on May 10, 2009


Maybe it's the hexane used as a solvent to extract the DHA?

Or maybe something else:
To get Styrofoam to dissolve, you need a solvent that has benzene as part of the structure. The simplest solvent would be benzene, but others include toluene, which is a benzene molecule with a methyl group bonded to it.^
posted by MythMaker at 9:16 PM on May 10, 2009


To treat my hyperstyrofoamis, in addition to Omega-3 supplements, my doctor also suggested cutting back on my styrofoam intake.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 PM on May 10, 2009 [13 favorites]


Styrofoam is an extruded polystyrene as a closed cell foam that resists moisture.

Omega-3 molecules are a by-product of the happy meeting of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide in the chloroplasts of terrestrial plants and marine algae.

A nurse however, recently discovered that some [omega-3] supplements can make holes on Styrofoam cups.

Darwin would be proud.
posted by netbros at 9:43 PM on May 10, 2009


Petroleum jelly dissolves latex. Gasoline dissolves styrofoam, too.

You wouldn't want to drink gasoline. And you probably wouldn't want to eat petrolium jelly either. Unless you're in a Flaming Lips song.

She dont use butter/ She dont use cheese/ She dont use jelly/ Or any of these/ She uses vaaaa-aa-aaaaasoleeeen.

But seriously, I don't see what the big deal is, we're not made of styrofoam, and our stomach acid could eat through a lot of different things, I would imagine.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 PM on May 10, 2009


Of course boiling water dissolves styrofoam cups. What's the point of this post?

Which is why we never, ever put hot liquids in them, right?

I don't really know what the big proof is here - but it wasn't the hot water that did it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:06 PM on May 10, 2009


> Of course boiling water dissolves styrofoam cups. What's the point of this post?

Did you actually just say that? Styrofoam cups, the ones people use everywhere to put in their steaming hot cups of coffee? (also if you note the supplement in the cup on the right, also an omega-3, did not dissolve the cup).

Anyway, under the consumer alerts page (the "recently discovered" link), the general statement is "warn people that the contents of the cap can dissolve a styrofoam cup, so you probably don't want to put it in them" not "OMG, its going to kill us all".

Since it appears it is just the lovazza supplement that comes with the awesome power of styrofoam-off, you may want to avoid that product until it is confirmed why exactly that is happening, since it appears other omega-3 supplements don't include such awesome technology. It may be just a quirk of chemistry (mentos and diet coke) or something like the above mentioned Hexan contamination.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:10 PM on May 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


(also, I am assuming the hot water was added as to speed up the break down of the gelatin capsule containing the supplement, one link as supplement being dissolved in the acidic cranberry juice)
posted by mrzarquon at 10:11 PM on May 10, 2009


Anyone know the current state of consumer analytical chemistry? Is there a place I can send a sample of goo and get back a list of its ingredients?
posted by ryanrs at 10:29 PM on May 10, 2009


Lately I've been taking styrofoam supplements, so I'm especially worried about the ways that Omega-3s could interfere with them.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:34 PM on May 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


The DOE has a great discussion on this topic (with a basic tutorial on aromaticity and many mentions of benzene groups):

Polystyrene is soluble in most oils to a greater or lesser degree, depending
upon the particular oil, the temperature and contact time. For example, if
you drop a piece of lemon skin to a hot cup of tea you will see the
polystyrene begin to disintegrate at the level of the tea due to lemon oil
in the skin that spreads out across the surface of the hot tea.

posted by benzenedream at 10:40 PM on May 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of the book More Cunning than Man, which told shocking tales about the ineffable cleverness of city rats and their interactions with humans. It was filled with stuff like this: They will eat almost anything, much to the misfortune of man, although one writer reports that they won't eat our ubiquitous refined flour, being perhaps more knowledgeable and wiser than we are.

I couldn't believe I had read such a thing in a book that was supposed to teach people about rats. Because we humans love to scoop up handfuls of white flour and put it directly into our mouths, right? But when we bake it into delicious bread, no, the rats wouldn't touch it. I mean, it's full of refined flour!
posted by Maximian at 11:28 PM on May 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock beats scissors beats paper beats rock.
posted by iamabot at 11:43 PM on May 10, 2009


I'll take the fish and leave the foam, thank you very much.
posted by marlys at 11:52 PM on May 10, 2009


As a polymer scientist who has had too much to drink tonight, let me just add that this probably has something to do with the Flory interaction parameter.

God bless you, Paul Flory.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:32 AM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


And you probably wouldn't want to eat petrolium jelly either.

Actually, the inventor of petroleum jelly, Robert Chesebrough, ate a spoonful a day and lived to be 101. Likely unpleasant, but it won't kill you.

(In keeping with that theme, he would also burn himself in front of audiences to demonstrate Vaseline's healing power.)
posted by ryanrs at 12:43 AM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


This somehow reminds me of my friend and fellow mefite's response to once being told that if you left a tooth in a glass of coke overnight, it would dissolve- "Yeah, that's why I try to always swallow before I go to sleep".

Hi tom
posted by flaterik at 12:57 AM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Petroleum jelly dissolves latex. Gasoline dissolves styrofoam, too.

Is this why my Sterno-based cocktail, the "Flaming Hobo" wasn't wildly popular?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:21 AM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


No, it's because you served cocktails in styrofoam cups.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:21 AM on May 11, 2009


Petroleum jelly dissolves latex????

Oh fuck, oh fuck!!!
posted by a non e mouse at 3:24 AM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


why on earth would you take supplements when tuna, salmon, sardines & herrings are so incredibly tasty?

And just as soon as fish becomes tasty, we can address your theoretical, no?
posted by explosion at 3:39 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Polystyrene is soluble in most oils to a greater or lesser degree, depending
upon the particular oil, the temperature and contact time. For example, if
you drop a piece of lemon skin to a hot cup of tea you will see the
polystyrene begin to disintegrate at the level of the tea due to lemon oil
in the skin that spreads out across the surface of the hot tea.
posted by benzenedream at 10:40 PM on May 10 [+] [!]

I love this poem.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:39 AM on May 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Isn't it just a case of hot oil? Any hot oil would dissolve Styrofoam. Normally the water would stop it but the gel cap melts around it creating a water tight seal between the oil and the cup. That's my theory.
posted by stbalbach at 4:30 AM on May 11, 2009


why on earth would you take supplements when tuna, salmon, sardines & herrings are so incredibly tasty seafood and therefore disgusting?

90% of the answer is in asking the right question.
posted by DU at 5:11 AM on May 11, 2009


Straight Dope covered styrofoam pitting 21 years ago...
posted by edheil at 5:14 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe if she didn't eat all that styrofoam she wouldn't need to take the hexan tablets to cleanse her bowels.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:13 AM on May 11, 2009


Oil floats, so why did it eat a hole in the bottom of the cup?

Maybe it's not the supplement in the gel cap that is breaking down the syrofoam. Maybe it's the gel cap.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:30 AM on May 11, 2009


Heeeeeeellllp meeeeeee, I'm meeeeeeelllllttiiinnng!!

You've destroyed my lovely wickedness! What a world, what a world!!!
posted by briank at 6:58 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not really surprised there are people out there who don't know this. I'm surprised that 1) they think this is news and 2) they manage to convince a reporter that this is news.

"Styrofoam is an extruded polystyrene as a closed cell foam that resists moisture."

Note that styrofoam cups aren't made out out styrofoam. They are made out of polystrene.
posted by Mitheral at 7:42 AM on May 11, 2009


why on earth would you take supplements when tuna, salmon, sardines & herrings are so incredibly tasty?

Because eww, eww, eww & ewww. I can't stand any of those things. Cod maybe, or whiting, or other non-fishy-tasting fish. But you just named four of the worst things I have ever put in my mouth.
posted by Foosnark at 7:43 AM on May 11, 2009


The insect repellent DEET dissolves or at least weakens nylon. This is a fact every rock climber really, really needs to know.
posted by rusty at 8:05 AM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


orange oil also dissolves styrofoam.

It also dissolves plastic knives.
posted by nomisxid at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2009


The consumer med safety web site is calling for warning labels on the fish oil pills:
Until more is known, we’ve mentioned to the Lovaza manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline that, at a minimum, the label needs to warn about contact with plastics.

Cutting the pill open and pouring its contents into a cup is a very non-standard way of taking this pill. You can't warn against every odd thing a customer may do or you'll have to add warning labels against putting the pills in your nose and ears and other such places too. And apparently they should be calling for warning labels on lemons, since they have the same effect.
posted by eye of newt at 10:11 AM on May 11, 2009


Right. Polystyrene is some spooky-ass shit. People who drink COFFEE out of polystyrene are just asking for it. And iced tea w/ lemon? Yeah- once that lemon wedge hits the side of the cup, no more cup in that spot.

Need to send a note to Rob Cockerham about doing a post on his site for "how much polystyrene can you destroy with (pick your own) natural substance".
posted by PuppyCat at 10:42 AM on May 11, 2009


« Older Star Trek Lives....   |   Artist John Heartfield was one... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments