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This Is What's Happening When You Light a Fart on Fire

If Dumb and Dumber has proved anything, it's that there is nothing more romantic than a flaming flatus. Yet, many people don't understand what's actually happening when they spark some butt air. Most assume the flame has something to do with methane. However, that's generally not the case, as the Today I Found Out YouTube channel highlights. 

The air coming out of your fart oven is predominantly comprised of hydrogen and nitrogen. There's also carbon dioxide and "potentially a small amount of methane and oxygen" in there. Additionally, a very small amount of the very potent hydrogen sulfide is often present. It smells like rotten eggs.

Of those fart components, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and methane can all be set on fire. Yes, there's methane present, but it's a small part of the equation and generally isn't the reason people are capable of turning their butt into a putrid roman candle.

To some extent, you can actually tell what's in a fart by the flame's color. The flame from a fart where hydrogen is the primary fuel will burn yellow or orange, while an atypically high methane content will turn the flame blue. If you've spent any time looking at YouTube videos of fiery toots, you've almost certainly noticed these candles in the wind are usually yellow or orange. Few are the blue angels of YouTube.

It's not entirely clear why a select number of people have high methane content in their farts. Nonetheless, exaggerations involving methane and farts are strangely common. It doesn't just encompass explanations of how farts become fireworks, but it's central to the oft-repeated myth about the man who farted himself to death

If you're pondering what color your stink daemon is, know that people have hurt themselves while dabbling in pyroflatulence. One pretty unscientific study mentioned above showed a quarter of people who lit their farts had also burned themselves. At a minimum, put some pants on.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.