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  #1  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:48 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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What happens if you stick your hand in a garbage disposal?

The ones in the sink I mean.

I asked my Dad this a few weeks ago, and he said "probably nothing. The grinders are very small and I don't think it would hurt you much." He's installed and fixed (5 kids + garbage disposal = lots of fixes) about a gazillion of them, so he knows more about them than I do.

It sorta makes sense; I can't imagine that you could have the Hole of Terror in your sink without a lot of lawsuits if they could turn your hand into a bloody stump. Heck, even my food processor comes with a lot more safety controls than the garbage disposal has.

Still, I'm not going to stick my hand in there to test it. So will anyone else volunteer?

I mean, volunteer an OPINION, of course.
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  #2  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:53 PM
chowder chowder is offline
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If you're a cheerleader you aint got a thing to worry about.

Otherwise who knows
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  #3  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:58 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I was looking at mine last night wondering this same thing. It doesn't have any true blades. They are more like blunt pieces of metal that stick straight up a bit in a specific geometry and spin. The amazing thing is that my daughters have put small plastic toys in the sink so that they fell into the disposal and I didn't know it until after I had turned the disposal on and heard a terrible sound for a few seconds. You would think that a little plastic horse or something would get destroyed by that but, in fact, none have ever come out with a scratch on them. Even bottle nipples have come out unscathed. I would imagine it would hurt to have your finger in there but I don't think that it would just lop your finger right off. The bigger question is how it knows to actually grind the real waste.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-17-2007 at 01:02 PM..
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  #4  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:56 PM
Don't fight the hypothetical Don't fight the hypothetical is offline
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As a seller, I've seen the guts of these things. I've seen demos of a pineapple being fed through one. I've seen what they do to spoons as well.

IMO, they would chew your hand up.
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  #5  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:56 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena
The ones in the sink I mean.

I asked my Dad this a few weeks ago, and he said "probably nothing. The grinders are very small and I don't think it would hurt you much." He's installed and fixed (5 kids + garbage disposal = lots of fixes) about a gazillion of them, so he knows more about them than I do.

It sorta makes sense; I can't imagine that you could have the Hole of Terror in your sink without a lot of lawsuits if they could turn your hand into a bloody stump. Heck, even my food processor comes with a lot more safety controls than the garbage disposal has.

Still, I'm not going to stick my hand in there to test it. So will anyone else volunteer?

I mean, volunteer an OPINION, of course.
I think it would chew up your fingers pretty effectively. If you stick a carrot in one, it gets ground up in an instant. You fingers are much narrower.
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  #6  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:58 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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I found this exactly one year old article:
A mangled hand, a 'Heroes' suit, and NBC
Emerson Electric is suing NBC over a scene in "Heroes" featuring the company's garbage disposal. This may seem silly but something does smell funny on both sides.


From the article:

Quote:
Dan Callahan, spokesman for Emerson, said the company, of course, does not recommend anybody put their hands in a garbage disposal that is turned on.

But he also pointed out that, according to data from the government's Consumer Products Safety Commission, you are actually ten times more likely to get injured by your dishwasher than your garbage disposal.

And I've been told that if you did stick your hand in a garbage disposal (not that I've tried) you would hurt yourself but you would not wind up losing any fingers as was the case with the girl on "Heroes."
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  #7  
Old 09-17-2007, 12:58 PM
Gary T Gary T is online now
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Sure, the grinders are small, but so are chain saw teeth. In the disposal, they're square-edged, steel, and moving FAST. I've seen metal utensils that were mangled from being in a running disposal. Flesh is not as hardy as metal. It wouldn't necessarily break your bones (though I wouldn't rule out the possibility), but I think you could get badly chewed up.
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  #8  
Old 09-17-2007, 01:02 PM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
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I had to fix a garbage disposal that had a pop-up thermometer from a turkey stuck in the blades. The blades aren't what I would consider small, they're about 1" high (they're "L" shaped, about 1" on each side), but they're not sharp, either. If you had your hand in the drain when the disposal was turned on, it wouldn't be fun, but you could probably get your hand out before there was any serious damage. Since they aren't sharp, they wouldn't cut you, but they'd probably tear your skin, and bruise your bone.

Garbage disposals use centrifugal force to push the foodstuffs out towards the blades, where they are mashed between the blades and the wall. Again, it's less of a cutting, and more of a mashing/tearing.

As for the lawsuits, if I were the judge, my first question would be, "What the hell were you doing sticking your hand in the garbage disposal?!".
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  #9  
Old 09-17-2007, 01:05 PM
Santo Rugger Santo Rugger is offline
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Shagnasty, I'd be willing to bet that the small toys didn't get damaged too badly is because they got stuck between the wall and the blade, and didn't let them move. Another possibility is, when pushed to the outside, it hit the blade, and then bounced right back to the center, repeatedly, until you turned it off. A finger wouldn't have that ability.
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  #10  
Old 09-17-2007, 02:25 PM
wolfman wolfman is online now
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Quote:
Garbage disposals use centrifugal force to push the foodstuffs out towards the blades, where they are mashed between the blades and the wall. Again, it's less of a cutting, and more of a mashing/tearing.
I'm not sure they are even mashed between. There really arn't blades at all. The food is basically swatted by the blade(which is more of a paddle) and thrown into the side of the thing, Until it slips through.
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  #11  
Old 09-17-2007, 04:51 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfman
I'm not sure they are even mashed between. There really arn't blades at all. The food is basically swatted by the blade(which is more of a paddle) and thrown into the side of the thing, Until it slips through.
Correct. The main functionality of the garbage disposal is courtesy of the impellers, which are pivot-mounted free-rotating square unsharpened bits of metal on a flywheel. Their primary function is to create a forceful current to pull waste through small rotating holes and/or. Failing that, the suction holds objects in place within the shredder ring while the impellers themselves perform blunt-force shredding of tougher waste. As I mentioned they are unsharpened and free-pivoting, so anything not being sucked against them by the waste stream will just get knocked about the hopper chamber. If there is no water backed up into the hopper, there is no suction. If the object is actually protruding out the top of the drain it may even get knocked upward out of harm's way. If the object is attached to the nervous system of an unrestrained person, almost certainly it will be withdrawn reflexively before any really serous damage can occur.

So the net effect of sticking your hand in would not be unlike sticking it into, say, a metal fan. Metal fans look really scary but in reality they are lightweight, relatively slow-moving, and unsharpened. The most that generally happens is that your hand gets knocked out aside with some bruises to show for it.

Anatomy of a garbage disposal
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  #12  
Old 09-17-2007, 02:33 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Ever hear of the term "blunt force trauma"? There doesn't have to be whirling blades of death to cause injury.

Last edited by beowulff; 09-17-2007 at 02:33 PM..
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  #13  
Old 09-17-2007, 02:39 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff
Ever hear of the term "blunt force trauma"? There doesn't have to be whirling blades of death to cause injury.
No one has denied that there may be some degree of blunt force trauma or injury. The question is will it do to your fingers what you implied in your first post?
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  #14  
Old 09-17-2007, 02:45 PM
beowulff beowulff is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by x-ray vision
No one has denied that there may be some degree of blunt force trauma or injury. The question is will it do to your fingers what you implied in your first post?
I guess we'll just have to try it and see.

Volunteers?



(Actually, you could get a pretty good idea by using an uncooked chicken leg. Might be worth a try).



Oh yeah- the OP never said whether the hand was being held in the disposer, or not. It makes a big difference.

Last edited by beowulff; 09-17-2007 at 02:47 PM..
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  #15  
Old 09-17-2007, 05:01 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff
I(Actually, you could get a pretty good idea by using an uncooked chicken leg. Might be worth a try).
What will happen is the disposal will run with loud banging sounds until you get tired of the banging sounds, and the chicken leg will probably still be there. Disposals are not the whirling blades of death they are made out to be. They're notoriously bad about handling stringy, fibrous things... many of them can't even handle the peelings from 5 or 6 carrots without getting clogged. They're built mainly to suck water forcefully.

If you ask me why I know this, it is because I have had to teach several girlfriends this lesson in the past, with a conversation going like this:
Her: Can the disposal handle this?
Me: No.
Her: Of course it can. The internet says so. I'll just feed all these carrot peelings in there right now.
Disposal: Whirr, whirr, gurgle, *quit*
Her: What happened?
Me: It clogged and then the little auto-safety thing tripped. Now I have to put the plunger into the sink and plunge it out, and if we're lucky we won't have to call the plumber.
Her: No, not the toilet plunger, that's gross.
Me: You can drive to the hardware store and see if you can buy a plunger at 10PM, then.
Her: OK, plunge it out.
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  #16  
Old 09-17-2007, 05:33 PM
Athena Athena is offline
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Well, for what it's worth, Brain Wreck, I've heard of disposals that won't grind carrot peelings but I've never actually owned one. I can stick chicken bones, carrot peels, potato peels, you name it down mine and it grinds 'em down.

There was a whole previous thread about garbage disposals and what jams them not too long ago. I personally can't remember the last time I've had one jam. I have no clue why people have such trouble with them.

Still, I'm not gonna put my hand down there to prove my point. Not even if I'm drunk.
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  #17  
Old 09-17-2007, 02:50 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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I've treated a couple of patients over the years who had put their hands into running disposals. They were drunk.

The fingers were bruised and contused, and in both cases, holes had to be burned thru the fingernails to release the trapped blood underneath, to relieve their intense pain.

I don't remember having to do any sewing of stuff back together, though.
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  #18  
Old 09-17-2007, 03:29 PM
scm1001 scm1001 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
I've treated a couple of patients over the years who had put their hands into running disposals. They were drunk.
who needs chicken legs when you have drunk volunteers. Hurray for science.
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  #19  
Old 09-17-2007, 04:20 PM
boytyperanma boytyperanma is offline
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You could probably force a whole arm through a disposal if you had the will and didn't go into shock(or it was someone else's arm.)

They have limited mean of pulling things down so most people getting hit by the blades are going to pull back and receive some damage but nothing spectacular. They have great ability to turn anything that gravity or any other force pushes into them into puree.
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  #20  
Old 09-17-2007, 05:36 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
I've treated a couple of patients over the years who had put their hands into running disposals. They were drunk.

The fingers were bruised and contused, and in both cases, holes had to be burned thru the fingernails to release the trapped blood underneath, to relieve their intense pain.

I don't remember having to do any sewing of stuff back together, though.
We have the winner of the EEEEEW! Award.
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  #21  
Old 09-17-2007, 05:42 PM
Great Dave Great Dave is offline
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I've seen a friend's mother feed a chicken carcass thru hers several times. Takes a bit of pushing, but it handles it.
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