Fast food has undoubtedly taken over the world as an omnipresent food source for billions, but what’s happening inside people’s stomachs with each bite of your favorite cheeseburger?
This cheeseburger versus hydrochloric acid experiment by YouTube channel Periodic Videos is a classic experiment, way back in 2010. And we thought it was definitely worth bringing it out of the archives for any of you who may have missed the truly revolting results.
The set-up itself is pretty simple! Take one McDonald’s cheeseburger and dunk it into the hydrochloric acid for three and a half hours to see what happens.
Why hydrochloric acid? Because it’s one of the main ingredients in our stomach acid, which kick-starts the digestive process and helps us break food down into usable components that give us energy and nutrients.
According to Martyn Poliakoff, a chemistry professor at University of Nottingham in the video,
As you’re watching me, churning away in your stomach is acid, which is one of the first stages in which food is broken down into usable components to give you energy or to make you fat. Because hydrochloric acid is found in everybody’s stomach and it’s part of our digestive process.”
Theoretically, hydrochloric acid is a strong compound naturally produced in your stomach designed to break down food, and it’s strong enough to eat right through a piece of wood if you dropped it into a concentrated vat. The reason the stomach doesn’t digest itself is because it’s protected by epithelial cells, which secrete a rich solution to coat the stomach walls. The continuous supply of solution protects the stomach and keeps a balance in order to avoid the overproduction of acid.
More so, this acid isused in many industrial fields as a chemical to remove steel, neutralize water, process leathers, purify salt, and balance pH levels. It’s highly corrosive, which is why it’s a surprise to find the burger won’t break down inside the laboratory. After three and a half hours hovering halfway into the concentrated hydrochloric acid, the container became thick with black liquid from the burger but was not fully broken down.
It takes about 24 to 72 hours for most people to digest food. However, because hamburgers are a fattier food, it can take up to three days to fully digest, according to research by Dian Dooley, an associate professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. A fruit salad, on the other hand, only takes 30 minutes to digest because it’s easier for the body to break down water-laden fruits and veggies.
However, in the video you’re about to see, it’s the fat inside the burger patty and the cheese that preserves the food and keeps it in pristine condition. High-fat concentrations means it doesn’t have a lot of water, unlike the easily digestible fruit salad, so it doesn’t break down or give mold anywhere to grow.
The University of Nottingham professor confirms that such biochemical science when he observes the end result of their experiment. He said the fats weren’t going to dissolve very well because in the body there’s bile acids used to break down the fats, meanwhile they only used pure hydrochloric acid to mimic digestion.