PDA

View Full Version : Is nitrocellulose edible?


buddha_david
11-21-2014, 10:40 AM
Does nitrocellulose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrocellulose) have any nutritional value, and if not, does it serve any purpose in the production of other foodstuffs? Believe it or not, need answer kinda fast.

CalMeacham
11-21-2014, 10:56 AM
I seriously doubt it. Your body can't digest cellulose, so I don't think that the nitrated version would be any more accessible to your gut. Maybe if you had the appropriate intestinal flora, like cows and gorillas...

I used to work in a factory that made nitrocellulose. The stuff came out of the "dehy" bins looking and smelling like shredded coconut marinated in rubbing alcohol (the result of tiny fibers stuck together by wetting, and smelling of their last bath in isopropyl alcohol to wash off the water -- dehydrating it) The isopropyl alcohol would make it unappetizing in small quantities and poisonous in large ones. Dried bitrocellulose would be incredibly flammable and explosive, and you couldn't tempt me near it in an uncontrolled situation -- I've been to burning demonstrations. Your best bet would be water-wet nitrocellulose, which I would imagine would be a tasteless mushy collection of glop, from which I couldn't see you deriving any nutritional benefit.


But if you decide to try, be sure to keep your nitrocellulose wet. And bon appetite.


Dispose of your subsequent fecal matter carefully.

buddha_david
11-21-2014, 01:01 PM
Maybe if you had the appropriate intestinal flora, like cows and gorillas...
Can it/does it get used for feeding livestock? That would count as "valid" for my purposes.

(It's a video game thing, in case anyone's wondering.)

ZenBeam
11-21-2014, 01:20 PM
I hear you can eat it, but that it causes killer burps.

CalMeacham
11-21-2014, 02:30 PM
Can it/does it get used for feeding livestock? That would count as "valid" for my purposes.

(It's a video game thing, in case anyone's wondering.)

Read the end of my earlier response. If you have any undigested nitrocellulose, it can pass through the animal's system and then you've got highly flammable cowflops.

You know how they used to burn dried cow chips on the prairie, because they had no or little wood for fuel? Imagine highly flammable cow chips.

This strikes me as not a good idea.


It also costs money to nitrate the cellulose, wash it, dry it, and then powder it. Even if you only want to nitrate it, the obvious question is "why?" What do you gain out of feeding animals more expensive and labor-intensive feed.


By the way, I have no idea what would happen in a cellulose eater ingests nitrocellulose. For all I know, it'd kill them. At the least, you'd think it would have drug-like effects, like maybe taking a heavy dose of nitroglycerine. That acts like a vasodilator. What happens if cows have their veins opened too wide for too long?

CalMeacham
11-21-2014, 02:59 PM
Here's an interesting reference. It seems that non-ruminants can eat nitrated compounds because the nitrates are broken down to nitrites in the bowel, where the nitrites ammonia generated are less likely to be ansorbed into the blood.

In ruminants' though , the conversion takes place in that four-chambered stomach, anf the nitrites are absorbed into the blood:

When ruminants consume a high nitrate feed, some of the nitrate cannot be immediately converted to nitrite and finally to ammonia. This causes both nitrate and nitrite to accumulate in the rumen. Nitrate is continually released from the feed being digested in the rumen. The addition of new nitrate into the rumen intensifies the problem.

Nitrate poisoning occurs when the nitrite level in the rumen exceeds the capacity of the microbes to convert it to ammonia. When this happens, nitrate and nitrite are absorbed through the rumen wall into the bloodstream. It is the nitrite that causes toxicity. Nitrite combines with hemoglobin to form methemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to body tissues while methemoglobin is unable to do so. When enough hemoglobin is converted to methemoglobin the animal begins to suffer from oxygen starvation. The change in the hemoglobin (red blood cells) is influenced by:
◾rate of nitrate intake (amount of feed and how quickly it is consumed)
◾rate of conversion of nitrite to ammonia in the rumen
◾rate of digestion of feeds and the subsequent release of nitrates
◾movement of nitrite (feed passage rate) out of the rumen.



So it seems that if they can break down the nitrocellulose, they can end up with oxygen starvation through nitrite poisoning.


http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex851



And if they can't break it down, you've got highly flammable stools.



There are lots of articles on high nitrates in livestock feed:

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/newsdetail.cfm?NewsID=27802


It seems to be a Bad Thing when it happens naturally, so I suspect it's not a good thing to do deliberately.

Exapno Mapcase
11-22-2014, 08:56 PM
Tartare Flambé would be a creative dish, once you got past the oxymoron.

astro
11-23-2014, 12:09 AM
From the files

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/3115/if-a-goat-ate-dynamite-could-it-explode

CalMeacham
11-23-2014, 02:00 PM
The Exploding Dynamite Goat story is interesting, but not exactly relevant, since we're not talking about instantaneous demise here, and we're dealing with nitrocellulose, not nitroglycerine (the active boom in dynamite). As I note above, I suspect in most animals the stuff would pass through, undigested. It's what happens afterwards that might give you cause for caution. I remember when dog poop, after it had weathered a bit, ended up white. Apparently that was because they used to add bone meal to dry dog food, and it would mostly pass through undigested. Now imagine that, instead of bone meal, the stuff was nitrocellulose. You get highly flammable asnd potentially explosive dog poop when it dries. Have fun cleaning THAT out of your lawn.

On the other hand, if your animal is a ruminant, it might start to break down the nitrocellulose, in which case your cow gets lotys of nitrates in its system which, as the sites I link to point out, is manifestly not a good thing for cows, and could lead to their demised. (Or your sheep, or goats, or rabbits, or gorillas).

So your options are dead cows (if not as instantaneous or spectacular deaths) or explosive cowflops. Some choice.

Hypno-Toad
11-24-2014, 08:21 AM
I hear you can eat it, but that it causes killer burps.

And explosive diarhea.

Ranger Jeff
11-24-2014, 10:40 AM
I'd guess you'd want to wear protective gear if your idea of a fun time is to take your date out to a feed lot to light cow farts. I know, but it's probably more exciting than cow-tipping.

Note: adding another entry to my list of things that are justified after the fact with the phrase "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.