The human body is a disgusting place, from billions upon billions of bacteria to your entire body basically being a poop factory, there’s plenty about the human body that is objectively gross. Luckily, that grossness is off-set but some things that are objectively funny and that’s where farts come in, the hilarious byproduct of the aforementioned factory that can make people from any continent, religion or race at least crack a smile. Despite how funny they are there is actually a lot of science that has been done to learn about the fart, to find out what it’s made of as well as what it means for one’s overall health. So, with the burden of knowledge and science in mind we wanted to share the top ten things that you may not know about everyone’s favorite bodily function as who knows, it just might save your life one day. Not really, we just wanted an excuse to write about farts. So, plug your nose and get ready to have your world changed!
10. Men Fart More Often than Women
In what will come as a shocker to no one, men actually do fart more often than women do. That’s something that most people realized but it wasn’t actually known why that was the case. While it’s probably impossible to know, the theories as to why this is the case range from the social, namely that men are less embarrassed about passing gas, to the scientific, that men either eat more or more quickly than women, that or that men’s bodies create more gases like methane while breaking down food. While the answer, like most things, is a mixture of those theories it is good to know that it’s not our fault as men that we are a stinkier brand of human being. So the next time your husband/boyfriend creates an impromptu and involuntary Dutch Oven, just know that it’s not his fault because baby he was born that way.
9. But Women’s Farts Smell Worse
This list breaks down the amount of gases in most farts like methane, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide and one thing that they have in common is that they’re odorless. The smelly part of farts comes from the amount of hydrogen sulfide that exists in each fart and it turns out that the average fart from a woman actually contains more hydrogen sulfide than the average fart of a man, meaning that a woman’s fart is in fact smellier, on average, than the fart of a man. Like the above theories as to why men fart more often there are theories as to why there is more hydrogen sulfide in women’s farts, from the fact that it just builds up from the lesser amount of farts that women either hold in or have period to the theory that women just produce more hydrogen sulfide whilst breaking down food. Either way, like above, the next time your husband/boyfriend creates an impromptu and/or involuntary Dutch Oven don’t get too mad at him as the odds are that you created an even stinkier version at some point that week.
8. It’s Comprised of (Mostly) Non-Smelling Gases
As stated in the previous entry, the vast majority of the gases that the average fart releases actually have no smell to them. Over 99% of the volume of the average fart is composed of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane most of which are by-products of the fermentation of food by bacteria in the gut of mammals. Nitrogen isn’t part of that breakdwon, though, and so any nitrogen found in farts is thought to be based on the air that is swallowed while eating or… Swallowing. Hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane are products of that process and comprise nearly 75% of a fart in healthy individuals. However, not all humans have methane in their farts which is why not all people can light their farts on fire. It is thought that the amount of methane (especially whe compared to the amount of hydrogen) correlates with obesity, constipation and/or irritable bowel syndrome as the bacteria that oxidizes hydrogen into methane also promote the metabolism’s ability to absorb fatty acid’s from food.
7. The Smell of that Smell…
Earlier in this list it was stated that the average fart from a woman smells worse than the average fart of a man and that fact stems from the amount of hydrogen sulfide in each fart. While that’s understood now it wasn’t always the case and there’s been a ton of different reasonings as to what adds to the smell to a fart over the years. Historically, compounds such as short chain fatty acids, ammonia, indole (an aromatic organic compound that is the byproduct of bacteria) and skatole (a mildly-toxic white crystalline organic compound that is part of the indole family) were thought to be the reason that farts smell the way that they do. However, both indoles and skatoles smell like mothballs (which smell like ammonia) which means that they’re probably not behind the smell. The larger question is why certain smarts smell different from others and if anyone is able to figure that one out then they’re in line for a Nobel Peace Prize, for sure, for at least keeping the peace between brothers and sisters around the globe. Actually, people know the answer to that…
6. Really Though, Why Do They Smell Different?
The Wikipedia entry for Flattulence shows that, indeed, scientists have spent a lot of time (and money… For beans) on figuring out the composition and origin of farts. While this list has dumbed down that science thus far, it’s about to turn into a chemistry class. Now, it was stated above that the culprit behind the smell in most farts isn’t the gases that comprise the vast, vast majority of each fart like oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide or methane but rather hydrogen sulfide. While that is true, hydrogen sulfide is actually just one of a class of volatile sulfer compounds that dictate the smell of farts alongside methly mercaptan (also known as methanethiol), dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide. Those all have their own smells, from the smell of decomposing vegetables, to the smell of a sweet radish to the smell of rotten eggs. That means that each fart is basically going to smell like whatever mixture of those volatile sulfur compounds exist within it, meaning that you’re in for an amazing treat everytime you let one rip. That’s actually where the origin of the beans make you fart urban legend comes from as certain beans are known to create those sulfur compounds and thus create stinkier versions of farts, which means that when you fart you’ll know it.
5. You Fart on Average 14 Times a Day
If you were to think back to even yesterday to count the amount of times that you farted you’d probably only remember about 3-5 of those beauties and that’s because a lot of farts can come out with little to know fanfare (meaning sound or smell). Those are the fondly titled silent but deadly or the ones that are both silent and smell free, really the ones that you don’t really have to think about as your body is regulating the amount of pressure in your intestines and is thus letting gas out on a fairly regular basis. While that may seem like a lot, and it is, considering that it’s enough to fill up a standard sized balloon every single day, it’s nothing to be concerned or embarrassed by as it actually means that the ecosystem of bacteria that exists within your body is functioning properly. Any significant change, whether it be more or less than that, is something to keep an eye on but as long as you’re not really noticing your farts you’re probably in good shape as you’d notice if you were dealing with gas related issues, as it’s painful on both ends of the spectrum.
4. Human’s Aren’t the Only Game in Town… And that’s a Problem
Anyone with a dog will know that animals also cut loose from time to time as we’ve all blamed a silent fart on the family dog while we also have all seen that same dog wake itself up from a deep sleep with a fart, like it’s perpetually confused and terrified about the sounds from below it’s equator. Dogs aren’t alone, nor are mammals as the animal that produces the most farts is the termite, the wood-munching bug. As far as mammals are concerned the ones that produce the most farts are camels, zebras, sheep, cows, elephants and dogs (especially labs and retrievers). That’s a problem because the world needs a lot of cows to keep up with demand for their delicious meat and because methane, especially, is an extremely bad gas in terms of it’s ability to trap heat in the atmosphere (more than 20 times worse than carbon dioxide) it means that those millions of cows that are out grazing, chewing grass and farting are actually helping the planet heat more and more every season. While scientists are going as far as to try to genetically create cows that don’t pass gas to catching that gas and storing it somehow the solution may very well mean the end of hamburgers and steak, although if it means saving mankind than it’s definitely worth it, which really does seem to be the case.
3. Most Farts Happen While We Sleep
Both Dutch Ovens and the fact that the average healthy person farts 14 times a day have been discussed thus far in this list and part of the latter was that most people don’t remember having farted even ten times the previous day, let alone nearly 15. While some of that is chaulked up to the different ways that the body releases gas (and the loose definition of a fart), the main reason is that most people mostly fart during their sleep. Like other entries on this list, there are theories as to why this is the case from the fact that people are typically laying down flat while they sleep to the amount of digestion that occurs while people are sleeping, like most things it’s probably a combination of theories. So, as also stated above, the next time your husband or boyfriend creates an impromptu or involuntary Dutch Oven don’t be too hard on them because, you guessed it, they really, really can’t help it apparently. It’s actually a wonder from what we’ve learned that we all don’t wake up with a room full of fart balloons.
2. Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit
One of the first songs that people learn as children is the old classic titled ‘Beans, Beans… The Magical Fruit’ which is a, as it’s Wikipedia entry explains, playground saying and children’s song about the beans capacity to contribute to flatulence. There is actually truth behind this saying and song in that certain types of beans, like Lima Beans, do actually break down into volatile sulfuric compounds in the body and thus contribute to not only farts but also the smellier version of farts as volatile sulfuric compounds are the smelly gases in the average farts. Other types of food also contribute to farts, as they also contribute to the amount of sulfur in the body and those foods tend to be healthier for you (like vegetables, eggs, meat and milk). That means that farts correlation to overall health may be a chicken and the egg scenario as people who fart often are considered healthier than those who don’t, however since people who eat healthier food fart more often the fart could just be the middle man.
1. Farts are Fast
It’s hilarious to try to figure out exactly how they were able to clock the average speed of a fart and while the answers aren’t nearly as entertaining as the theoretical (as it was probably done by measuring the rate of air flow using a pitot tube and manometer, or by using the same anemometer that is used to track wind speed), it’s good to know that our tax dollars are being spent wisely. The results from those tests found that farts can reach speeds of 10 feet a second which roughly translates to about seven miles-per-hour, which when compared to other bodily functions like sneezes and ejaculation isn’t that impressive but when consider that the victims of farts are typically sleeping next to you it’s not hard to see why farts don’t need to be fast. Sneezes have been tracked at over 150 miles per hour which is why people are told to never attempt to stop or block a sneeze. Recently a man actually tore his throat internally because the speed and pressure that comes from a sneeze has to end up somewhere and that somewhere was through his throat. Sperm isn’t as speedy as a sneeze but is a bit faster than farts in that they are released at over ten miles-per-hour. Take that, termites.