Eating the alkali metals
April 11, 2020 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Running low on sodium chloride and thinking about breaking into your stocks of other alkali metal salts? Watch Tom and his adventurous friends taste the alkali metals, putting to the test whether sodium is in fact “the best tasting of the alkali metals,” [*] and which of them are best avoided for culinary use.

[*] not including Francium, for obvious reasons, but with the bonus additions of two alkaline earth metals and another Scandinavian favorite
posted by mubba (49 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh man! Over on LearnedLeague we just had a question about / I posted this video of Paul Rudd eating salty licorice in Finland!

Now, to watch the video: eating McDonald's fries with knife and fork?

I would expect potassium chloride to be reasonably salty, as it's the salt in "lite salt". But apparently there's a nasty aftertaste.

As you get to the heavier salts, they taste progressively worse. I guess that makes some sense. (But LiCl is OK, in a not-salt sort of way.)

Not going to spoil what the additional, surprise chlorides are.

I assume they all lived. They were alive at the end of the video, at least, which is a good sign.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:29 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Anyone know any jokes about sodium?

Na.
posted by lalochezia at 5:37 PM on April 11 [57 favorites]


Hey....want to hear a joke about potassium?

K.
posted by lalochezia at 5:45 PM on April 11 [52 favorites]


I would not try this no way. But I would watch another video of them trying all the sodium halides (if they aren't highly toxic).
posted by DarkForest at 5:46 PM on April 11


Potassium table salt is totally good and fine. Mix it with a bit of sodium salt and 95% of people would never notice the difference.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:01 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Anyone know any jokes about sodium?
mineshaft gap.


paging Famoso•Doctor Pareselsvs.
posted by clavdivs at 6:08 PM on April 11


Salmiak is the schiznit.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:44 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


Oh man! Over on LearnedLeague we just had a question about / I posted this video of Paul Rudd eating salty licorice in Finland!

That was more fun that I'd expected, cheers. Here's a full video of Paul Rudd and Richard Ayoade enjoying Finland's saltiness.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:58 PM on April 11


Seafood restaurant tried to bar NaCl something something something...?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:05 PM on April 11


Potassium table salt is totally good and fine....
posted by SaltySalticid


I'll take your word for it.
posted by sjswitzer at 7:07 PM on April 11 [7 favorites]


I assume a similar line of thought led to a man inhaling all of the noble gases (except radon).
posted by Copronymus at 7:15 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]


They come from Australia, the land of chicken salt. They already have the best tasting alkali metal combined with the best tasting glutamate.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:53 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]


I am from Australia. You are incorrect.
posted by prismatic7 at 8:12 PM on April 11


So am I. American snacks pale in comparison to the salty, MSG laden fare of Australian savoury snacks.

I would kill for some Samboy BBQ chips right now.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:18 PM on April 11


Salt liquorice does "start like salt and then it tricks you." It grew on me, but only the sweetest kind. The really saltiest versions are too much.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:40 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


... chicken salt?
posted by Space Kitty at 9:56 PM on April 11


Chicken salt is an Australian variety of seasoned salt.
posted by jedicus at 10:01 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Look, America invented chicken slacks, let's not judge.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:02 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


"BarNaCle" - geddit? Ahhh, never mind...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:03 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


I had the salty licorice once. Once. I kept waiting for it to start tasting like anything other than burning and eventually gave up.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:04 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


lalochezia: "Anyone know any jokes about sodium?"

Well, I know a *song* about sodium!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:32 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]


Salt licorice is the best licorice.
posted by fshgrl at 10:47 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]


Well, I know a *song* about sodium!

I feel so good if I just say the word
posted by aws17576 at 10:50 PM on April 11


Oh man! Over on LearnedLeague we just had a question about / I posted this video of Paul Rudd eating salty licorice in Finland!

It’s called Salmiakki!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:51 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]


I've always wanted to taste-test various of the strong acids, at appropriate dilutions, maybe with some simple syrup. Does sulfuric-ade taste different from hydrochloric-ade, or are they indistinguishable?

(No, HF is not a strong acid and it is not allowed in the kitchen.)
posted by away for regrooving at 11:03 PM on April 11 [5 favorites]


Salt licorice, whether in the sense of salmiakki or table salt (or ideally both!), is amazing. Nothing will ever be more disappointing than being offered licorice, only to find some sort of colourful fruit-flavoured bollocks with not even the barest hint of licorice extract or flavour is what was under discussion. If it doesn't contain licorice root (extract) then it should be a misdemeanor if not crime to call it licorice.
posted by Dysk at 1:29 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


If it weren't for this coronavirus lockdown situation, I'd be in Denmark visiting my folks right now, with easy access to more licorice - salty, sweet, strong, weak, all the kinds - than I could care to eat (which is a lot). Instead I'm here in Britain and can't easily lay my hands on anything salty, nevermind salmiak salty :(
posted by Dysk at 1:32 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine salty liquorice being any worse than the regular kind < shudder >.
posted by thedward at 2:33 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


"Anyone know any jokes about sodium?"

Two anchovies walked into a bar ...
posted by Chitownfats at 3:00 AM on April 12


I should point out here that Richard Ayoade's mother is Norwegian, so he may have developed a taste for salmiakki that Paul Rudd missed out on in Kansas.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:00 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]



I've always wanted to taste-test various of the strong acids, at appropriate dilutions, maybe with some simple syrup. Does sulfuric-ade taste different from hydrochloric-ade, or are they indistinguishable?


Here you go recipe # 1
posted by lalochezia at 4:50 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I know a song about salt! It’s super cute.
posted by sixswitch at 7:07 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


You'll have to pry Orange-Creamsicle-flavored Twizzlers out of my cold dead hands.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:52 AM on April 12


Fun fact: Salmiak = Salammoniac = sal ammoniac = ammonia salt = ammonium chloride

Also, I like salmiakki... but I'm not a fan of the aftertaste. A few minutes after eating it, my own breath gets a hint of stale urine.
posted by Belostomatidae at 7:56 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I’m no chemist but I’ve been wondering... is salmiac (ammonium chloride) an alkali metal salt?
posted by sjswitzer at 8:09 AM on April 12


Oh, you’ve tasted hydrochloric acid if you’ve ever launched your lunch. Aside from that it’s used in some brands of horseradish sauce! (I avoid those brands.)
posted by sjswitzer at 8:14 AM on April 12


Okay, see, what we gotta do, see, is take all these awful chemistry jokes...



and Barium.
posted by hearthpig at 8:41 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


I'm kind of curious to try salmiakki. I've had what I think is a related Swedish candy that was definitely licorice-based, but did not taste like burning. Mostly what was interesting about it was that I absolutely hated it, but also wanted to keep eating it. There were layers.

(Also I deeply enjoyed this video and am delighted that he has more. Doofy chemistry done by people who know what they're doing is one of my favorite YouTube genres.)
posted by kalimac at 8:48 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Where are you seeing chemistry jokes, hearthpig? I don't xenon.

(Perhaps they were deleted by mods and now argon?)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:05 AM on April 12 [12 favorites]


> is salmiac (ammonium chloride) an alkali metal salt?

No. Ammonium is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. But it has a +1 valence like an alkali metal, so I guess, why not?. I had to cringe at including the calcium and strontium salts though.
posted by DarkForest at 10:14 AM on April 12


When I was in fifth grade I nearly gave my science teacher a heart attack by casually tasting a salt (sea salt, I think) because I was unaware that some salts were poisonous and that it was a bad idea to taste things in a lab. To be fair to young me, I think this was the first time I was in a lab setting for science class and nobody had ever mentioned the rules.

Later on in the year I accidentally spilled another student’s experiment, which was a container of sea monkeys. The teacher must have been glad when the year ended.
posted by PussKillian at 12:28 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I assume a similar line of thought led to a man inhaling all of the noble gases (except radon) .

I don't even have to click that to know it was Cody.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:17 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Finnish salmiakki connoisseur contribution: If you ever end up getting some salmiakki, be aware that there are tons of different varieties and consistencies in different candies out there, situated on various spots of the sweet-salty and mild-burning spectra. If you dislike one, don't be fooled into thinking you wouldn't dislike others even more! Also, this seems like as good a time as any to mention Salmiyuck, the (now sadly defunct) blog of an Ohioan receiving plentiful shipments of salmiakki from somewhat trolly Finns to taste and review.
posted by jklaiho at 2:37 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I thought the calcium and strontium were included as a bonus, not intended to be alkali metals. (They're "alkali earth metals", confusingly.)

I don't know why ammonium was included.
posted by Belostomatidae at 3:52 PM on April 12


Mostly what was interesting about it was that I absolutely hated it, but also wanted to keep eating it.

Yep. Salmiak is objectively terrible but weirdly compelling. I love it.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:17 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Salmiak is objectively terrible

Its popularity across several countries and cultures suggests otherwise. The whole "this thing that is foreign to me as an anglophone is factually bad!" thing is tedious.
posted by Dysk at 7:39 PM on April 12


I have to concur: as a flavor, I find it kind of vile. But I also compulsively ate an unreasonable amount of the stuff. I assume it's like how people enjoy Malört.

I guess some people probably actively enjoy the flavor, but you don't need to to enjoy eating it.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:29 PM on April 12


Count me as another that kinda hated salmiakki and yet couldn’t stop eating it. I generally hate licorice flavor anything too, and do NOT go back from more. But the one time I had salmaikki I just kept going back until the bag was gone.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:49 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Sorry Dysk, I mean that to be hyperbolic but I'll be more mindful in the future. I do honestly believe salmiak is a cultural treasure.
posted by sjswitzer at 9:40 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


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