Episode 19: Killer Quicksand

Air Date: October 20, 2004

"Killer Quicksand" like in the movies (i.e. quicksand that slowly sucks any person or animal unlucky enough to fall into it under) really exists.

busted

Quicksand is denser than water; the greater the density, the greater the buoyancy of objects within. Any victims found in quicksand likely died for some other reason (i.e. exposure to the elements).

One can be killed by dropping an electrical appliance into a bath full of water.

confirmed

The current in most electrical appliances is well above the levels the human body can withstand. The electrocution effect is increased if the appliance drops farther from the drain or if the water has more salt in it (such as due to urine or epsom salts). They also proved that devices (and probably by extension, sockets) with GFCIs are effective at preventing these electrocutions, as a GFCI-equipped hairdryer cut off on contact with the water.

Tattoos can explode when exposed to an MRI.

busted

The compounds in the pigments of most tattoos simply do not react to magnetic fields. Old pigments of the color black, which had iron in the composition, could cause some discomfort at most.

89 Comments

  1. Bryan H says:

    The current in the appliance is irrelevant, since it’s in the appliance, not in the person. The voltage in the appliance (at least 110 volts) is what matters.

  2. Tim says:

    That statement doesn’t make sense bryan. Humans can withstand quite high voltages. If there is no current behind the voltage it wont kill you. Current kills, volts dont.

  3. Ankit says:

    Um…wikipedia saya that quicksand could be pretty dangerous, it may not be the most reliable, but, according to it anyway it wouldn’t be called a ‘myth’ and especially not one that’s been busted.

    • Thomas says:

      Wikipedia is a very unreliable source. Any random uneducated person with a computer can edit any article with false information.

      • Sam says:

        This is not true. There are hoards of people (and computers) who work to prevent and fix vandalism and errors on wikipedia. Studies have show that wikipedia averages better accuracy than printed encyclopedias.

        • Bryan M says:

          90% of statistics are made up.

          • Bob says:

            including that one

  4. Stephen says:

    While that’s true, Tim (and you make more sense than Bryan does), amps and volts are obviously related. It’s like arguing that it’s not the gun that kills you, it’s the bullet. Obviously that’s true, but without the gun the bullet is harmless (I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but it illustrates that there’s a relationship there). Higher voltage for a given resistance results in higher current. It’s like if you tape your mouth to a hose and turn it on–you’re going to get hurt by the water flowing through (analogous to the current), but without the water pressure (analogous to voltage) no water will even flow. Having indicated all this, the thing that’s really the biggest factor here is the resistance. I can stick my finger into a small electrical appliance & it will hurt but probably not kill me, as my dry skin has a high resistance. But when my skin is wet the resistance drops to maybe a tenth of what is was originally, and the current increases dramatically (of course the actual measured resistance depends on several factors, but this is the general idea). When the water is salty, there are a greater number of ions conducting the electricity (meaning resistance drops), meaning more current will flow. Of course, the inside of your body is an excellent conductor–run that electricity directly into an open wound, and fuggedaboudit! As a side note, I wonder if you would get hurt at all if you were bathing in distilled water (it’s a poor conductor by itself)?

  5. nikk says:

    If killer quicksand is busted, please explain to me how bear grills from man vs wild was just in some up to his neck and could barely move. he only escaped due to his knowledge from survival experts.

  6. shannon says:

    Re: nikk

    Easy. 2 Reasons:
    1)He had to try to pull himself that deep. 2)River “quicksand” is usually a mud/sand mix. The mud does not flow like the sand and prevents water/air from replacing the mass of the sinkee, forming a vacuum, making escape much more difficult.

    Granted in the Mythbusters episode, the quicksand they created was way too watery (way too much water pressure at the bottom. The QS was really just sand being stirred up by the upflowing water), even the mud/sand/water mix still exceeds human density and you will not sink below chest level without helping it.

    Also, the myth was that the QS would pull the victim under. Again, it cannot without the victim helping. You may not be able to escape, but you wont go under either.

  7. jamoecw says:

    i actually encountered a very small amount of quicksand on a beach with large grains of sand, i was wearing wetsuit booties and didn’t feel as much pressure as i normally do from that depth of water. i don’t know how this occured, but there was running water (probably fresh) about an inch or two under the sand, and when i lifted my foot out the sand, it returned to a smooth undisturbed surface. this occured at fort ross, for those that are northern california divers, or ab divers.

  8. Jon Hopp says:

    I am still not convinced of the electrocution effect in a bathtub. For excample most bathtubs today are covered by enamel or are made of plastic and the drain is also plastic. So I don’t see the current going anywhere. Do you?

  9. hannah says:

    I disagree with the quicksand myth. In most places where you would find quicksand it’s not just sand and water mixed alone. Usually there would be mud and maybe even clay mixed with it. I myself have been trapped in quicksand and have sunk up to mid thigh within 10 seconds. Nor could I get out under my own power. Someone had to pull me out with all of their strength and mine. And you also won’t sink any deeper than that unless you try to get yourself out which by moving will sink you even deeper.

  10. Cor'e says:

    Okay, please explain this as i’m smart, but maybe just as stupid.

    I took an 2-prong extension cord and plugged it into a house wall-socket, non-GFC.

    I then put the socket end into a wide-mouthed plastic bottle full of clean water and shook the plug end for a awhile to get out any trapped air and to assure electrical contact with the water.

    I put my finger in the bottle’s water – nothing. Nada, no AC 125V shock.

    So, i started putting in salt, both epsom and table salts, as i did this i’d keep testing the water with my finger, nothing.

    Finally, after mucho salts i started hearing a humm from the bottle, and the cord started to warm up, so i unplugged the cord and removed the plug from the bottle.

    Itasted the water, which was extremely salty, like maybe 5x to 20x what sea water tastes like, no one is going to take a bath like that normally.

    The Humm i think was the Hertz of the AC, it actually vibrated the bottle.

    The Warmth was caused i believe by the Resistance decrease in the brine solution i created by adding those metal salts.

    I was bare-foot on a linoleum tiled bathroom floor, i lacked a grounding rod or pipe, i used my finger not my whole body, i have experienced shocks before from touching bare metal contacts in household AC, but i did not experience shock in this test (as i expected).

    I have taken huge amounts of volts at very low amps for fun, remember that carnival machine where you’d hold onto the two metal handles to see how much you could take? Well, i have little problem holding on till the max, it was a fun thing!

    Somebody explain what is actually the shocking factor here.

  11. Kev d says:

    In killer quicksand surely where quicksand would be found there would be a fairly large amount of water and sand present. So i find it difficult too believe the experiment to be true. In the test they used a large container,pumped watr into that container but the airated sand would just settle under adams weight in the container because there is no where for it to go in the confines of the big tank. If you walked into quicksand there would be more chance too sink further coz the sand and water mix would be able to spread further away from the person sinking.

  12. S D Michaud says:

    It is the amperage which kills. 300 mA (.3 Amperes) is enough to kill you, if it is across the heart. Current makes the muscles contract. Without the chemical message to relax, the muscles continue to contract – hence the heart stops pumping. Otherwise larger amounts of current are required for electrical burns. We (science teachers) regularly use up to 100,000 volts safely in classroom demonstrations from Van de Graff generators, but with very little current (almost none). Chemically pure water will not conduct a current, it must have something dissolved in it for conduction. If everything is nonconducting, then a current should not flow. HOWEVER, do not run a risk – DO NOT temp fate. Drinking water is not chemically oure, and any leak connecting to a metal ground will conduct a possible fatal current.

  13. paul says:

    Stephen got it right. It is the resistance that determines fatality not voltage or current alone. The 300mA figure quoted by Michaud is the average current needed to disrupt the heart rhythm of a human being. This number is based on the average resistance of a person when the contact points are on either side of the person. You can’t just inject 300mA of current into an object. You have to raise the potential across the chest to a point where current will flow. Depending on the contact resistance of the person this could be a low voltage (a few dozens) or a high one (a thousand). As a pragmatic matter every voltage source also has a compliance limit (current limit) that determines how much current can flow out. Demo Van Der Graff generators have a built in limit based on the size of the sphere and the charging mechanism. No matter how much voltage you have there is an upper limit on how much current can flow out of the device when a circuit is completed.

    The other piece missed by many in these articles is that you must complete a circuit for current to flow. This is how a GFI does its job. A GFI trips because the flow out of the hot side doesn’t match the return from the low side. A large enough difference means there is a “leak” and causes the breaker to trip.

    Getting electrocuted requires more than proximity to a voltage; it requires being in the path to ground. So, yes, if the toaster is dropped in close to the drain then the person might live*. If it is dropped in on the far side so the current has an opportunity to flow through the person then they are toast.

    * Note the “might.” In a typical entry level physics lab students put electrodes on either side of a small tray of salt water and measure the potential at various points about the tray. The numbers lead to a determination of something called the electric field in the tray. If you are positioned in just such a way so that the change in electric field strength over the width of your body is large enough then even if you are not in a direct path between the toaster and drain then you might get nailed anyway. Electric fields can take on some unusual shapes given weird electrode geometries and the material in between the electrodes but, in general, they decrease along the path from high to low.

    Personal note: I have experienced a 10,000V shock from a laser power supply that wasn’t adequately discharged. The capacitors were fully charged and the rating of the device was was such that it was capable of delivering plenty of current (big laser require big power supplies). I survived because the bolt of lightning went across my hand and not through my body. I was lucky, there were no lasting effects. People do survive getting struck by lightning. They live to tell the tale because enough current is conducted around the person and the electric field is not steep enough across the body to induce 300mA across the heart.

    • Tawau says:

      I started fonlowilg you on twitter months and months ago. Little did I realize that I would be reading your blog now for advice and support. Not because I lost my husband, but because I lost my brother 6 weeks and 2 days ago. He died suddenly at the age of 36 and leaves behind his wife of 5 years and 2 children (youngest turned 1 yesterday and oldest is 2 and 1/2). At the moment I’m just riding the waves of emotion sadness, anger, guilt and again sadness. I know it’s going to take time.I’m hoping to direct my sister in law to your blog.I know it will help herThank you!

  14. RJ says:

    even still the drainpipes in most modern houses is not metal and I do not see a good path to ground. Furthermore I do not believe Mythbusters ever mentioned weather a standard circuitbreaker was in line with the appliances they tested.
    Enyone have any comments on this???

  15. max says:

    yes I agree, my drain is not metal, nor is it grounded to anything. My water valves are not attached to the tub, and the feedpipe is isolated with a nylon gasket and my tub is coated with nonconducting enamel and it too is not grounded to anything. I also understand that electric fields may have some effect but they have a tendency to cook my food and not electrocute it. All theory aside I believe it is reasonable to assume that you must have a completed circuit for current to flow and it needs to be the path of least resistance. It seems to me that if I had a hot wire and a return(ground) wire that were seperated by at most a few inches, that the path of least resistance would still be between hot and return and not to a metal grounded pipe that may be three feet away if it exists at all. finally I am not sure weather putting copper paddles into the chest of a dummy is an accurate way to measure current flow accross the heart of a human. Perhaps Mythbusters has more explaining to do.

  16. RJ says:

    Yes Max and this would explain the results that Cor’e got in his experiment as explained above. He is a braver man that I.

  17. Cor'e =) says:

    Hey, i’m back! =)

    Thanks for the additional insights, my whole experiment was ungrounded (pun) and having a house fuse inline just keeps the wiring from turning into toaster elements, which saves a house from burning down, fuses do little more than that to save a life.

    To save a life you’ll need a quality GFC. GFCs work well in a controlled environment, like a insulated-wired house, but consider that there is an ongoing movement of energy all over the Earth, between Earth and Air, and all living things inhabit this shifting energy field environment, few have noted that even our skin is adaptable to these energies, continued small electrical shocks to most living flesh will actually create a higher resistance, which will recover again to a lower resistance some time after the shocks pass.

    Consider that fiberglass or enamel (glass+pigment bonded to a metal base) is an insulator(stove, washer, dryer, bath), plastic pipes are insulators, water to a large degree is an insulator, woods are to a very large degree insulators, most tiles are insulators, dry cement foundations are insulators, even most paints are insulators, on-and-on. Seems like we are well insulated by our house, many an engineer made it this way to protect you!

    In fact, a house built to code these days should have only two very long metal rods penetrating the Earth near the foundation used as grounding (most water companies have stopped using metal pipes to connect to your home water meter) and those two rods need to hit a source of soil moisture to actually ground and bleed off a lighting strike, or static surge, or electrical fault.

    Tasers are quite common for defense, physics labs are common to schools, and kids love to stick metal things into the wall or toasters, and for that reason maybe we should educate ourselves to the facts rather than myths. What will or will not harm or kill you is actually very helpful and intersting to learn about. Since there are so many myths put in the minds of people it is actually dangerous to live with these people’s irrational fears.

    So, i felt no electricity i think for several reasons: not being close enough to electrical field and a lack of grounding where the field could possibly go (plastic bottle). As i added metal-salts the field enlarged, but still i felt nothing because also my skin was not sensitive enough. To be sure, the sound of energy turning into an audible hum and heat was a clear signal that i was going to trip the house breaker. And up to last bit of salt added i felt no sensation of the current or voltage from my fingers, but unplugged the cord to save a fuse trip.

    I do not think i could have gone as far with a GFC outlet, nor would i want to try this with a properly grounded 3-prong extension cord for some reason – though i do not know what that reason may be yet… Hope some one learned something useful with all this stuff. Be safe, take cares. Happy Holidays too. (Be careful touching wet Xmas lights). =)

  18. Harmon says:

    Quicksand can also be combined with escaping gases, CO2, methane and the like – and Mythbusters proved that escaping gases in water can sink a ship. That would change the density of the quicksand so a human body could sink much more rapidly, and totally.

  19. Bradley Gee says:

    One can be killed by dropping an electrical appliance into a bath full of water.
    Bryan H: is right, the current in the appliance is not what kills you. It is the current that passes through your body.

    Voltage is important because you can not effectively develop current in the human body with low voltage. Most appliances used in the household are 110 to 120 volt by design. In most of Europe the voltage for appliances is 220 volts!

  20. russian says:

    if you have a high voltage combined with enough amperage it can kill you also low volts high amps kills as well. you just need the right combination of each

  21. David says:

    I watched the Quicksand Episode and they changed their limit on what would stop a heart from 60mA to 6mA, wouldn’t this be incorrect? In episode three The Barrel of Bricks they measure 60mA as a lethal current, what gives?

  22. Bobby says:

    Whomever came up with that conclusion is wrong. The reason is the path from the “hot lead” to “ground” would not be through a human body being in the bathtub. The path would be between the two or three leads within the appliance. ALSO, what they did not account for, is the fact that electrical outlets in bathrooms are equipped with GFCI “ground pulse” sockets, which would trip the circuit breaker immediately even before a short circuit.

    While the voltage and amperage from an electrical socket is enough to be fatal to a person, it would never go through that person’s body.

    Bryan H. is correct. The amperage is irrelevant. The reason is Ohm’s Law, E=IR
    “I”, which is the current, varies with the voltage and the body resistance. You can have all the current in the world AVAILABLE or non-existent, and that will change when the circuit is completed. When it is completed, the amperage is dependant on the voltage and resistance.

    I am a retired electronics technician with a 2nd class FCC license

  23. Bobby says:

    russian:>
    if you have a high voltage combined with enough amperage it can kill you also low volts high amps kills as well. you just need the right combination of each.

    Bobby> Partly correct… If you have high voltage, the resistance of your body will determine the amperage. Ohm’s Law is E=IR or the voltage = Resistance multiplied by the amperage. Since the voltage and the resistance are constants or known, I=E/R or amperage is determined by dividing the voltage by the resistance.

    Low voltage normally will not kill you because the human body dry, has about 20,000 ohms.

  24. Bobby says:

    S D Michaud:>
    It is the amperage which kills. 300 mA (.3 Amperes) is enough to kill you,

    Bobby> Going by Ohm’s Law, if you have ZERO volts, you will have ZERO amps. If you have ZERO amps, you have an open circuit or an infinite amount of resistance. E=IR If “E” or Voltage is Zero, then the product of “I” and “R” must be ZERO. While the Resistance can be anything, (it will be an open circuit) “I”, or the amperage must be ZERO.

  25. Bobby says:

    Tim: >
    That statement doesn’t make sense bryan. Humans can withstand quite high voltages. If there is no current behind the voltage it wont kill you. Current kills, volts dont.

    Bobby> Again, using Ohms Law, the only way you will have no current, is if you have an open circuit or infinite resistance IF you have EMF or voltage. You can have an infinite amount of voltage with no current only if you have an infinite amount of resistance or an open circuit. High voltage WILL kill you, because if you complete the circuit, you will pass lethal current through your body.

  26. Bobby says:

    Conclusion: Dropping an electrical device such as a hair drier into a bathtub filled with you and water will NOT be lethal.

    The “confirmed’ by Myth Busters is wrong.

  27. Bobby says:

    Here is an experiment that you can try to verify my claim that Mythbusters is wrong. Get an aquarium with water, add some salt in it, and a live fish. Then drop any appliance into it. I will bet a dollar to your dime that the fish will not die, or even react to the electricity.

    You do not have to use a GFI (Ground pulse) outlet.

  28. Randy says:

    I know that it is possible to die from dropping a appliance into a tub of water. But, there are too many varibles. The water needs to be salted. The current if you happen to have a outlet that if the socket is not the gfci type. And you need to be close enough that your heart is in the water low enough or close enough to the path of the current. Meaning that if your just standing in a tub of salty water, you may just end up makeing your calf muscles stronger.

    Bobby Im pretty sure that it can kill a person but like I stated there are a lot things to be in place.

  29. Bobby says:

    Randy,
    I think you may be confused on this. 110 vac can be lethal. HOWEVER, when dropped into a tub of water with impurities such as salts or conductive material, what you must remember, is that all of the water in the tub is conductive.

    This would be similar to stripping the insulation of an electrical cord and touching it. Unless you can provide a better path to ground, you will not feel any electrical sensation.

    The electricians of old, would pigtail splice 2 wires with their hands after making the contact. The reason is the electricity will take the easiest path to ground.

    As I pointed out, try adding some salt into an aquarium, place a fish in there, then put a lamp without a bulb in it but turned on into the aquarium. You will see that the fish will be unharmed unless it happens to swim into the bulb socket.

    The Myth Buster’s conclusion is wrong. While the 110 vac can be lethal, dropping it into a soapy or salty bathtub filled with water will NOT be lethal.

  30. Randy says:

    Hi Bobby,

    You are correct about the electric cord, but, I have to disagree with you on the bath tub. If your heart is hit with the current before it finds a path back down, it will be enough to stop your heart.

    Please let me know what you think,

    thx

  31. Bobby says:

    The shortest path to ground from the hot lead within an appliance will be withing the appliance, so no measureable current would pass through your body in a bath tub if you are in it.

    Now, if you had the hot lead only at one end of the tub in the water with you in it, with the closest path to ground being the drain, the electricity’s path to ground would be the water. With you in it, you would be a part of the water, but it would make no difference because the water, not you, would complete the circuit.

    You might try a similar experiment. Take the two leads from an electrical outlet. Put one lead on one side of an aquarium filled with water and a live fish in it, with the other lead in the water at the other end. You will find that the fish would not be affected in any way.

  32. Randy says:

    I think you might be missing something, have you ever had eletro back therapy. where they use elecriciy to strengthen back muscles by contracting them with electrical current.

    Well the appliance in the bath tub will provide a effect like that but much greater. If you can imagine the current contracting your heart and this is probably how its leathal. I am certain of the shock when the appliance is innitially submerged.

    Please dont try it but I sure you can get hurt or die,

    thx,

    Randy

  33. Bobby says:

    Randy,
    When you do that type of therapy, (and I have had it) you are placing the electrodes on different parts of your body, which forces the return to go through that part of your body. There is a huge difference there. When in a bath tub, and an appliance is dropped into it, nothing but the 110 vac forces the electricity through your body, and you must remember that the tub has conductive water in it. (PURE WATER does NOT conduct electricity).

    Your body may pass a small amount of electricity, but at 110 VAC, you would feel practically nothing.

    Now, if lighting hits a pond, and you are in it that would be a different story, you will most likely die because the lightning will be MILLIONS of volts. 110 vac is very much less than a million.
    Bobby

  34. Randy says:

    HI Bobby,

    If the bath water is salted it will, and getting back to my point it can be leathal.

    But there are so many varibles,

    thx

  35. Bobby says:

    No Randy,
    Because the electricity will take the shortest path to complete the circuit. If the bath water is salty, then the shortest path would be the water. You being in the water would make no difference. You would feel nothing.

    As I said, try the experiment with the acquarium and the fish. Certainly, if the electricity will kill a human, it will gill a little fish in an aquarium correct?

    You will find that it will not kill the fish. 110 vac in a tub of water, salted or soapy is NOT lethal if you are in the water unless you are touching the only source to ground, and the water is not.

  36. Bobby says:

    A better experiment would be to use brine shrimp, which you can get in most pet shops for fish food. Because brine shrimp already lives in salt water, it should make the experiment easier, plus they are less expensive. Surely, if the appliance will not kill a little shrimp in an aquarium, a human should survive much easier.

  37. Randy says:

    Boddy,

    I am telling you that I have first hand knowledge of this and fish are not the same as pplz.

    fish tank is the same as a bath tub, so you need to do it in a bath tub

  38. Bobby says:

    Randy,
    For your information, I am an electronics technician. While a fish tank is not a bath tub physically, the water is the same.
    Bobby

  39. daniel says:

    You miss 1/3 of the stuff need to create quicksand.
    You miss the trap gases altogether
    Leaves and things fall in the water/sand and start to rotting forming Gases
    The gas get trapped by the leaves above when you step into the Quicksand
    The gas is released and therefore the person sinks very quickly
    You stop moving the gas stop getting release but if you move around more gas is release

  40. Bobby says:

    Daniel,
    In this case, you also disagree with Mythbusters? I can see your point. Mythbusters says that killer quicksand does not exist. It is possible that they are mistaken again if there are a lot of gasses trapped, because that would make the “quicksand” far less denser than a human or animal.

    No quicksand where I am from though.

  41. Robert Boucher says:

    Quicksand was not busted, its a known fact to anyone who works in any sand industry that quick sand is not made with sand, but clay btw.

    Come to Timmins Ontario, I’ll show you quick sand, the kind that takes your boots and pants even if you get help to get out.

  42. Jdog says:

    Though it may or may not kill you, I can say I will not be stepping in to a bathtub and dropping something electrical into it. =P

  43. Bobby says:

    Jdog: > Though it may or may not kill you, I can say I will not be stepping in to a bathtub and dropping something electrical into it. =P

    Bobby> Well, I wouldn’t do that either. While it will not kill you, as an electronics technician, I have felt 110 vac. It is not a wonderful feeling. There is a remote chance that you might feel some of it.

    Still, Mythbusters is wrong when they confirmed the myth. The least they could do, is try to prove it by trying to kill an animal like that. The person in charge of Mythbusters did not do a good job on this one.

  44. Bobby says:

    Robert Boucher,
    While I don’t know much about quicksand, I agree with you. Mythbusters is NOT a very good program because they do make errors.

  45. Tom says:

    Quicksand is a mixture of sand, water and salt. The salt is essential in creating the behaviour. There are other forms of mud that can act similarly. However, in virtually all cases, they are more dense than water and the human body, so you float. You can be seriously stuck, and die of exposure, starvation, or drowning if water flows on top (eg in tidal areas). But you won’t go under like in movies.

    One exception is peat bogs. Peat is low density, so the mix can be less dense than water, meaning you could sink. The Bear Grylls video however seems to be a bog that’s mostly water, nothing like ‘quicksand’.

    Another way to actually go under is if you’re carrying weight. For example if you’re an archaeologist with a backpack full of gold artefacts.

    And of course taking a dive head first into quicksand is a bad idea.

  46. John says:

    “qucksand” is dangerous in the great outdoors its more clay than fine sand
    and slimy I had a branch handed to me to drag me out I suppose its like a peat bog
    because you do sink. I think the “sand” is a dried fungus that looks like sand – this occured in the swamps of Maryland
    quicksand is not safe

    • Pylox says:

      loop alinysas (also known as mesh alinysas) is an alternate to the nodal alinysas. Both are used to solve circuits. In the loop alinysas, the main unknowns are loop currents and other unknowns are written in terms of loop currents. KVL is used to obtain a set of equations where all unknowns are loop currents and by solving the set, loop currents can be found. A simple solved problem (one loop) is posted . I am planning to post more and publish an e-book for mesh alinysas as the one that I have published for the .

  47. Troy says:

    i am only 11 years old from South Africa, and i did not read anyhting bout you guys typing bout the ummm the…… i think it was somehting bout the tatoo and MRI thing.
    why did you not ask any questions bout that?

  48. caleb says:

    it’s ampage that kills not volts.

  49. Kris says:

    Actually, neither voltage OR current matters, amperage is what cause the fatality…

  50. Richard says:

    The human body can survive up to .9 amps and may survive at amps above 1 amp. AT 1 amp exactly, the body is killed. Voltage and current have nothing to do with it. basic ac/dc will teach you this.

  51. TvK says:

    Bobby would myth busters be a better program if they told people its safe to drop a live toaster in their bath water.LoL.

  52. Joseph Balint says:

    The magnetic field in an MRI is not the problem. The radio transmitter used to flip the atoms is. The frequency used is 42500000 per tesla. The htgher the field the higher the frequency, and the more power is required. Depending upon how well the system is tuned the power could approach 20000 watts. The machine looks at the age, weight, birthdate, sex and the type of study and the slice thickness, and the number to determine the amount of rf energy the blood can remove safely. This is called Specific Asorbsion Rate. Patients have been known to asorb quite a bit of energy without tatoos. The RF system is tuned to 50 ohms for good transfer of energy. A poorly tuned system could require much more RF energy than a properly tuned one. You should reexamine this myth since you went totally off on a tangent.

  53. Joseph Balint says:

    You also screwed up on the quicksand myth. You used the wrong kind of sand. The found while building an elaborate housing and resort area in Dubai. Using desert sand made quicksand. They had to pump sea sand to build up the beaches. You used sugar sand, which is sea sand. Quick sand is improperly named. It should be quick mud.

  54. Jacob says:

    Quick sand is very real. My father and I was walking on this scaly dirt because we seen this huge pile of turtles cooking in the sun. Well suddenly they disappeared. We freaked out and all of a sudden we went in. It wasn’t nessarily slow, but it wasn’t fast either. We got to about to our shoulders and stopped then we had a rough time getting out.

  55. sam says:

    its sad to see that there are all these electronics major and all these electrical degrees flying around and everyone is so close and throw out ohms law and still cant get it right. its not the volts that kill you its not the amps that kill you and its not the resistance that kills you , its the combination of all three!!.Volts is the potential of force like having a bull dozer or having a ferrari parked in front or having a wide hose. you have the potential to do damage, speed, or flow..but if they just sit there then you have nothing. now amperage is energy put on motion like stepping on the gas pedal on the ,bulldoser or ferrari or opening the handle to let water flow through the hose.Resistance is what is stopping the action from happening.a rough rocky terrain with pot holes may slow down the movement or may be enough not to even let car or bulldozer move. flat tires may do the trick. a rock in the hose, a kink in the hose these can all be measured in resistance. . You need the potential like a car a hose or a tool to do the job(volts) you need the gas to be fed to the car,bulldoser, water to be turned, tool to be swung around(amperage) and you need low resistance for things to be able to flow like a smooth road or a clean hose with no kinks. or air space to swing a tool.(Resistance (or lack of) Ohms law is like a triangle. without each corner there is no triangle. as far as the fish are concerned ther is little or no load. try covering the bottom of the fish tankwith a ton of copper nails that way the fish will be
    in direct path of the current flow .add some minerals in powdery form as to dissolve int the water. i cant guarrantee it but im sure it will get you closer of course it should be a small fish tank not a huge one.

  56. sam says:

    oh yeah just fair warning make sure youre wearing properly insulated gloves goggles,safety equipment and someone ready to unplug a cord wich i recomend be plugged far enough away from the action. and try ,to stand back or hhve a safe stick (non conductive of course)to insert the power giving you some distance.from you and the water. you never know with electricity.

  57. zena noble says:

    can you do more on quicksand?

  58. Jason says:

    Stephen, if you washed yourself before bathing in the distilled water, you might be safe (not that I’m recommending that you try it.) The very sweat on your skin washing into your bath water would be enough to give the water enough conductivity to electrocute you. If you washed yourself beforehand and then bathed in distilled water, you might be safe for a short time. Just as the danger of electrocution in a large body of fresh water is low because the salinity from your sweat is diluted enough to reduce the conductivity of the water.

  59. Steve says:

    First let me say that I have been an Electrician for 30 years. Electricity takes the PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE..
    Inside of the “appliance” the “Neutral” wire (Ground)runs very very close to the L1 (hot) wire. Why would the current shoot throught feet of water and your body when it has a path that is usually no more than a 1/4 away on the circuit board???
    I call BS on this MythBusters.. Its nothing more than an old wives tale. Have you EVER heard of anyone dying this way ?? Dont you think a few more people would have done it if it actually killed you either on purpose or accident?
    Only in in TV land and I guess mythbusters is tv land

  60. Taz says:

    I can’t believe how many morons are posting here claiming they are experts. It’s sad really. Especially you, Steve. Could it be that it’s a rare occurrence nowadays because basically EVERY bathroom in this country has GFCI outlets and EVERY hairdryer has a GFCI plug? Why don’t you google ‘bathtub electrocution’ and see what comes up. Call the NY Times and tell them that their story from 1984 about the 2 little girls electrocuted when a hairdryer fell into the tub (BEFORE GFCI’s) is an old wive’s tale. You f’n moron. Why don’t you give it a shot if you’re so sure. Make sure you run an extension cord into the bathroom from a non-GFCI outlet and use something without a GFCI plug. The world could use one less idiot like yourself.

    Electricity will go wherever it wants through a conductive medium. It doesn’t matter if it’s silver or salt water as long as it’s all connected. If it’s a radio in a salty bath, yes, most of the power WILL go directly from hot to neutral. But it will ALSO seek ground to the metal drain. If that happens to be through YOU,(ie: you have your foot on the drain), and your resistance is low enough to allow sufficient current to flow through your heart, you are dead.

    As little as 7 mA for 3 seconds will kill you. Not 500mA, not 900mA (.9A), 7mA. A jolt of 25-50mA will stop your heart in less than a second. That is the reason GFCIs are required to trip at a 5mA imbalance within 25mS.

    For those of you ‘experts’ who have obviously never met Mr. Ohm or been briefed on his law:

    At 125V, to allow 7mA to flow requires a resistance of 17857 ohms. 25mA requires 5000 ohms, and 50mA requires 2500 ohms. Now listen carefully.. The average ‘dry skin’ resistance of a human is 1500 ohms. If we divide 125 by 1500, we get .083 or 83mA. That’s MORE than enough to kill you when you’re DRY. When you are wet, your resistance can drop to as low as 300 ohms. So again we divide 125 by 300, and this time we get .417 or 417mA (almost half an amp). That is TEN TIMES the current needed to kill you. But far far less than would be needed to trip a regular circuit breaker.

    Now obviously this takes into account the fact that MOST bathtubs are grounded through plumbing. It DOES NOT account for plastic non-conductive plumbing or a plastic tub, and what would happen in the water with no alternative path to ground through the drain. In theory, you would NOT be electrocuted. It would also, in theory, NOT trip a GFCI, because there is no alternative path to ground to cause the imbalance which would cause a GFCI to trip. That would be an interesting thing for them to test in a revisit.

  61. Brad says:

    As FHA compliance inspector I have read the above comments regarding the Ground Fault Circuit interrupters, GFCI’s, with interest. There is some very good information and not so good information listed by the participants. The Mythbusters do a good job at providing basic information in an entertaining way, but they cannot address all the different combinations of conditions that appear in the million of households across our country. What the above comment fail to address is the concept of probability. If it was easy to be electrocuted while in contact with water then we would see many more electrocutions nation wide. We do not see that many electrocutions because the conditions to be electrocuted must be just right, the odds must be against you. Many of the commenter’s cite ohms law but fail to see it as an interrelated system that under the proper conditions can combine to cause 30 milliamps to travel across the heart. This approximate threshold will cause Fibrillation and ultimate death. The conditions must be exactly right.
    I would submit that most electrocutions in a tub would have something to do with physically touching the appliance that was dropped in the tub and the bather touching some other grounding conductor at the same time. Any metal component that can be reached while in the tub could possibly complete a circuit through the body and complete the circuit through the heart. It is usually a combination of issues; a wound on the skin that greatly reduces the resistance of the body, additives to the bath water that can reduce resistance, frayed cords and defective appliances, missing or improper bonding of the water supply system, defective GFCI’s can all be contributing factors. Everything must occur in the proper order to become lethal and these conditions can be difficult foresee. However, when these factors combine in the proper order then they can become quite lethal. The subject of electrocution is complicated and cannot be covered in a few minutes on TV. One thing is for sure, when you are wet and you come into contact with electricity then you GREATLY increase the probability of something bad happening.

    • john says:

      All true, but I’d add that all things equal, higher voltages are more dangerous provided they have sufficient current behind them. Voltage is also called “potential” for a reason, and high woltage wiring (such as the 6kv supply found on neon signs) by code has much thicker insulation. Most any person who likes to tinker around the house has been given a jolt of 110/120 a few times, if you’re not barefoot and wet it just tingles a little. A friend who works on restaurant equipment barely survived a tangle with 220, he was dry but touching a metal stove. Was knocked unconscious and took months to get over the effects. Didn’t even trip the breaker. Ask any utility worker about 440, they treat it with respect. In contrast I’ve worked on auto electrical equip. for many years and never heard of anyone getting injured by 12v, even with 550 amps behind it.
      In summary as you say everything must be in place but higher voltages are the ones that are likely to kill you, they will jump through air, insulation or flesh to find their path to ground. (110/120 is plenty)

  62. Enlade says:

    I must agree with the other comments. The movies I remember would show a bubbling quicksand (usually with a gaseous fog hiding the quicksand from the unsuspecting movie star…possible from the gas). So, I don’t see how you can just ignore the likelihood that there is some gaseous mixture in the soil. I think that what you proved was that processed sand and filtered tap water one could not kill a movie star. Then again, given the intelligence of your average movie star these days…boy that’s another episode. Dumb blonds got some competition there.

    • Myriam says:

      Mike Miller Posted on As someone who works in colihtng retail I can safely say it’s rare to even find cool comic related shirts at all. Let’s hope the trend catches and you can get you phoenix shirt and maybe I can get my hands on a Blue Lantern shirt

  63. Enlade says:

    I’m not exactly sure I understand what you are trying to test with your tub experiment. As we all know if you put yourself into a circuit that has enough amperage to kill you then you will probably die. So, your tub experiment seemed like a lot of hoopla to test that obvious statement. You might as well have hooked your sensor up to a car battery and then hooked it up to a doughnut. Conclusion, one will hurt you and the other won’t. If you are in a tub and something happens that puts you into a circuit with enough amperage to kill you then you will likely be killed. But that is the same anywhere you might do such a thing. If you stick your fingers into a house socket you might be killed. If you are on the moon, in a tub, at the bottom of the ocean, and you do the same thing then nothing has changed. Its the same result no matter where you are. If you stick your finger into a doughnut then you will be fine. Unless its someone elses doughnut which might get you a sock in the nose, but you won’t die from electrocution. Again, doesn’t matter that you are in a tub, on the moon, or at the bottom of the sea. The results of your tub experiment will be directly dependent on whether you put your sensor in the circuit or out of the circuit. You are simply testing where you put your tester and that doesn’t seem like a useful experiment to me.

  64. Mark Novaky says:

    With the electricity question, the important thing to realize is you have to complete a circuit across your body.No circuit, no electricity flow.That’s why if your car hits an electrical pole,and wires are on your car stay inside, the second you attempt to step out of the car, the electrical ‘potential’ that’s harmlessly in your car frame(and your body) is conducted to ground by your foot, and is instant death.As far as putting wires in a fish tank and the fish is swimming, well all that means is you don’t have a circuit otherwise the fish would be dead and the water would be boiling(Immersion heater)

  65. Mark Novaky says:

    One more point did you ever see birds sitting on electrical wires and wondering how come they aren’t being fried? It the SAME reason Electrical company workers can go up in their ‘Bucket Trucks’ and handle live wires, THEY AREN’T grounded. BELIEVE me BOTH are ‘Juiced’ with MONSTER potential, but without a pathway to ground, no circuit.If you touched one of those birds sitting on a wire while at the SAME time providing a pathway to ground thru your body, you would both die instantly.

  66. bifimera says:

    how long are the wires?

  67. Kylehobie says:

    I’m surprised that the myth busters didn’t consider the possibility that killer quicksand isn’t sand at all, rather some ground up organic material like wood particles or vermiculite, pumice or the like in water so that the density of the mixture was less than the density of a human body. A victim would have to be more dense than the quick “sand” to completely submerge, and as seen on the show, even the finest of sands mixed with water would still result in a mixture that is more dense than a human body.

  68. felixnoir says:

    They’ve studied this. You need a special condition with quicksand where the water is upwelling from beneath. Have you ever sunk over your knees in wet sand? It’s very, very hard to get out. It’s all very well saying you can float on the sand: I daresay you can, but your legs are still trapped in there. No, they don’t float up. Firstly, if you try floating in the sea, your legs below the knee will be sunk under the water, and so basically will your head. The floaty bits are the bits with air in them. Second, in quicksand they also have a weight of sand on top of them.There is also a kind of gluey effect.

  69. Don Jinright says:

    I’ve heard of contraptions designed to damage some loud, arrogant, sophisticated music system by turning it on as someone drives (car stereo) by!?
    Where does one get plans for an item such as this to stomp out the boom-boxes while one is trying to sleep?
    Is this something covered in one of the Myth-busters Shows?
    Can it be if not?
    Thank you very much!

  70. Eggs says:

    During their father’s day special, the CBC radio program D.N.T.O. aired an interview of a young man whose experiences/observations contradict the death by tub myth. He clearly states that his father Marty (an electrical engineer) was standing ankle deep in a tub of water that had a live electrical wire in it (that he was holding – ah fathers!).

  71. george says:

    hou op om te maak asof julle als weet ffs

    • Takashi says:

      In superposition, you have to turn off all souecrs except one and find the summation of the contributions. If you keep a dependent source on and turn off all other souecrs, the output will be zero. Superposition is based on considering the circuit as a system with inputs and outputs. Inputs are independent souecrs and outputs are unknowns that we want to determine. Dependent souecrs are not inputs. They simply relates some voltages/currents to other voltages/currents. In other words, they are part of the system itself, similar to a resistor.

  72. Brian says:

    Contrary to a lot of comments from ‘electricians’, electricity does not only take the ‘path of least resistance’. It takes all paths simultaneously and the current flowing through each path is inversely proportional to the resistance of the path. This is very basic parallel circuit stuff.

    Every path through the water is a parallel circuit and some of it will flow through your body. Whether that is enough to kill you or not depends on your position relative to the source and sink of the circuit.

  73. BustedMy@$$ says:

    Maybe the Mythbusters should have tried to bust the quicksand “myth” in Germany….

    Then we wouldn’t have to listen to their propaganda anymore…..

    From the German show “Die Moor-Leiche von Windeby” or “The moorland corpse of Windeby”.

    This clip below shows investigators testing how dangerous bogs are. When the man steps in, his own weight is enough to send him under with no struggling.

    So the answer is yes, you really can be sucked down into a “bottomless” pit.

    Bottomless enough to kill you anyway….

  74. mat stevens says:

    re:electricity
    what if sitting in tub on metal chair
    or
    holding metal safety bar
    or
    in fish tank – metal plate that fish touches.

  75. Xitlalic says:

    Love u mythbuters

  76. Ronald says:

    Please help! I am doing a project on quicksand and was wondering if anyone has ever died from quicksand? I think its no, but I need to be exact.! -_-

  77. Sally Grice says:

    How do I get in touch with Mattie the tattooist from this episode?

  78. Steve says:

    Appliance in a bathtub would be lethal. Electricity doesn’t always just flow to the shortest path but the path of least resistance. In the split second it takes for the electricity to travel into the appliance in the water, it would have built it up to 110 Volts! By then anything with a resistance lower than 110 volts is subject to recieving the amps / ohms. Your body then will recieve lethal shocks.

Leave a Reply

(required)