Toilet Humor

Dear Theodore,

Knowing about my sodium fetish, my brother forwarded me your Sodium Party website to me and I was pleased to see that there were others who partook in similar activities. As a young irresponsible undergrad with a love for chemistry and an even greater love for things that go bang, I was delighted to discover that the sodium in the first year lab wasn't exactly under lock and key. Unlike you, I didn't video or photograph the fun we had - mainly because it didn't occur to me - and so I can't show you footage. But I can relate some entertaining tales.

My mates and I first used the most obvious receptacle available which happened to be one of the university toilets. Unfortunately the immediacy of the explosion prevented any chance of the sodium going down the pipe (which was what we wanted). So, without giving it much thought, we wrapped the chunk (about and inch in diameter) in paper hoping that this would delay the explosion and aid in the flushing process. Unfortunately the power of the flush wasn't enough to overcome the buoyancy of the little package of fun. Instead what we discovered was that the paper acted as a delay as well as inhibitor for initial explosion. However, with a closed lid, the toilet subsequently became a wonderful housing for the released hydrogen. I think what happens is that a slow wetting of the paper (not toilet paper) resulted in a slow generation of hydrogen and because there was not much oxygen in direct contact with the heated sodium chunk, the hydrogen was given off without much fuss or reaction. That is until the sodium had heated up enough so as to ignite and with that ignition you can imagine what the hydrogen in the bowl did.

This proved to be endless amounts of fun until we used a slightly larger chunk and a slightly older toilet. The ensuing bang not only resulted in a completely shredded toilet, but also managed to summon the bomb squad who, with no small amount of attention seeking, decided to land a helicopter on the University lawns. Thankfully we had already made ourselves scarce. We subsequently decided that the sodium-in-toilet malarkey had run its course and from then on stuck to (the not much safer alternative) of sodium in 2 liter plastic coke bottles. Looking back, we were probably not doing it at the most sensible time. South Africa had just come out of Apartheid and things were still pretty unstable. No wonder the bomb squad came in force.

Immature, yes. Dangerous, absolutely. But at that age, a hell of a lot of fun.


Irresponsible Sodium Handler.