PSA: Powdered Sugar Is Flammable

Source: Unsplash
Source: Unsplash

In today's news regarding things you never knew you needed to know, but certainly do, we learn that sugar is flammable, and thus, should never be used to decorate a birthday cake topped with candles.

Exhibit A:

Source: gfycat

The GIF above depicts a person blowing out the candles on a cake. As he blows, a cloud of confectioner's sugar rises up, making contact with the candle flames. Then suddenly, a fire ball roars dangerously close to the birthday boy's face. 

The GIF was uploaded by an anonymous poster back in December, 2015, but has recently climbed the ranks of Reddit, where user redsox221 uploaded the clip. 

It should serve as a warning to all. "Any substance that burns at all can be made to burn bigger and faster by increasing its surface area, thus increasing its access to oxygen," PopSci reported. "Fine powders can have very large surface areas, making materials such as flour and sugar, which barely burn when in bulk form, explosive enough to demolish a factory." 

Sugar's chemical reaction should not be used for a fun party trick. It looks kind of cool, yes. But it's really, really dangerous.

In 2008, 14 people died from an explosion at the Imperial Sugar plant in Georgia, Reuters reported. "The primary explosion occurred inside a sugar conveyor located beneath two sugar-storage silos that were inadequately designed and had allowed a build-up of sugar dust," Reuters wrote. "That, in turn, triggered a cascade of secondary dust explosions."

Fortunately, in the instance above, the birthday boy seems to have survived another year unscathed — despite the catastrophic celebration. But a quick search on YouTube will prove that a sugar fire doesn't always end so sweetly.

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Kate Bratskeir

Kate Bratskeir is a Food Editor at Mic. She can be reached at kate@mic.com.

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