Drinking Drano

or Liquid Plumber, or generic Stop & Shop brand drain unclogger… the stuff has always fascinated me in this weird way. I have an awful drain in my apartment’s shower so I’m buying the stuff by the gallon, and I’m constantly getting dared by my roommates to drink a shot of it. Now, first of all, I’m not dumb enough to do that (even for $5), but scientifically, what would happen if a person were to attempt to unclog their own system with Drano?

and I’m already aware that the short answer is “they’d die”

I’ve actually seen this before in the last E.R. I worked in. A teenage girl attempted suicide by drinking Drano. I heard that she’ll never be able to pass food oraly again.

Here’s one case I found using Google.

You (chemically) burn the lining of your mouth, esophagus, and stomach. How bad of a burn would depend on how much Drano had contacted your skin and for how long, but you could quite easily die.

The main ingredient is sodium hydroxide (aka caustic soda or lye), and it is highly corrosive. Remember in “Fight Club” when Brad Pitt pours some on Ed Norton’s hand and makes him sit there while it burns? Think that in your mouth and guts only you can’t wash it off.

And that’s not even mentioning its toxic effects.

You can learn quite a bit by using Google

Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002777.htm

FWIW, it sounds to me like your roommates are potential Dawrin Award nominees. Don’t play their games.

Drinking Drain-O is a lot like being in love. At least, that’s what Leslie Nielson says.

BTW: I find that the foaming stuff works a heck of a lot better.

Why not ‘permanent’ type automobile anti-freeze?

It really has a much better taste.

The most common type of drain cleaner (Drano™) is based on a strong alkaline compound, also know as a caustic. As soon as the liquid or crystals touched the mucus membranes of your mouth, you’d note excruciating pain, from massive tissue damage, equivalent to third degree burns. You would also have massive bleeding and swelling in the damaged areas. If you actually swallowed, your esophagus and stomach would also be burned. The acid in your stomach would then begin to neutralize the the base. If untreated you very likely would die a slow and painful death. If you were especially lucky, the swelling would occlude your airway and you’d asphyxiate .
Treatment, initially, would be supportive. You would have a breathing tube inserted into your nose or through your throat because the swelling would stop your breathing. You’d have several IV lines inserted to give you fluids and blood products
You likely would have several years of reconstructive surgery. Your mouth and esophagus would be destroyed and require rebuilding
You would have a tube placed through your abdominal wall into your small intestine for feeding. The chances of ever being able to eat normally again, would be very slim. Your sense of taste would be gone as well as your teeth.
You would possibly disfigure your face as well, requiring cosmetic surgery to make you look human, once again.

I would strongly suggest seeking a new facination.

On the positive side, someone who would be dumb enough to drink the stuff would possibly remove themselves from the gene pool, thus sparing us all from having to deal with their progeny.

Additionally, it would take care of those nasty hair clogs in your system.

Somebody tangentially connected to my family (I think she was the daughter of a close friend of my grandma) did this when I was a kid. She wasn’t very old (maybe 3 or 4) and somebody had left lye in a Pepsi bottle on the table where she found it. (Don’t ask me why–this was in the early 70s and my grandma and her friend weren’t idiots–it might have had something to do with an art project, but I wasn’t very old at the time either so I don’t remember the whole story).

The kid survived, though I think it was pretty touch-and-go for quite some time. My mom said she suffered some lasting effects that she’s probably still dealing with to this day. I don’t know how much she drank, though.

Did you mean Bezoars? :slight_smile:

After you get the clog out, there is a MUCH better product for keeping the drains clean, and unblocking slow drains. It works by bacteria & enzymes, and is a LOT safer. It is usually available at Hardware stores and a few larger grocery stores.

Drinking that would just make you sick, I suspect. Don’t try it, but definately if you splash it on your hands, all you have to do is wash your hands, it wouldn’t burn.

Saw an interesting picture of someone who’d died drinking caustic in a textbook on forensic science.

Not a nice way to go.

Other details can be found in the tale of the Ogden Utah Hi-fi killings where 2 assailants robbed a shop, forced the hostages to drink drain-o and then shot them.

The book of the ordeal is here

There are also numerous websites (easiet to find if you search on Pierre Dale Selby, one of the killers).

At trial they said they got the idea from watching Magum Force, a Clint Eastwood movie where a pimp makes a hooker drink drain-o

OFF Topic.

If you live in apartment, then your manager should take care of the slow drain for free. No sense in wasting cash on draino.


I never realized just how powerful that stuff was…I can’t believe they actually sell it on store shelves and make the bottles so easy to open! My fascination will only increase now. And no, I still won’t take a shot of it for $5.

so DrDeth , what is the name of this alternative product you are recommending?

Remember that wonderful movie Heathers?

[spoiler]It’s how J.D. and Veronica offed the first Heather, by handing her a hangover cure of liquid drano. Actually, Veronica was the unwitting accomplice since she thought the cup contained milk and orange juice.

Heather actually dies quite quickly, clutching her throat and falling dramatically through a glass coffee table, so I guess the film didn’t portray the results accurately. Her last words before she swan-dives through the glass:[/spoiler]

CORNUTS!!! :smiley:

Oh my f***ing god. :smack: Absolutely **DO NOT ** run drano through your own pipes bro.
Considering how the stuff works…it DISOLVES the ick that builds up in the drain pipes. It will do that and so much more to your esophogus and stomach.
Jesus H Christ. A few years ago I saw a story on one of those health shows about a man who thought suicide by Drano was the way to go. Ooops, he survived. His espohogus was shot as was his stomach and a portion of his intestines. The docs ran part of his large intestine up to his throat OVER his sternum so he had a nice long lump on his chest. After he swallowed food he had to manually push it down his makeshift gullet. Gah!
Ok so I give you credit for checking out the Straight Dope before partaking in these frat boy shenanigans but really dude…I can only shake my head.
Maybe you need new friends.

Chemical drain openers are extremely toxic, extremely corrosive, extremely dangerous, environmentally dangerous, and they do not work. I work in property management, and any plumber will tell you they hate those chemicals. Every plumber has burns from training to open drains after people put in Drano and it doesn’t work. They charge more–a $50 unclogging becomes a $150 job.

Drano will eat through PVC pipes, so that’s another thing to think about. And your body tissues are weaker than pipes.

Go buy a plumger and a plumber’s snake. They will last your lifetime, and are not dangerous. And they work.

never could figure out why people keep by Draino and other similar products. They usually only marginally help, and are merely a band-aid.

Go buy a sewer snake and fix the problem for good. Most likely cause of slow draining (especially in bathrooms) is hair. A good snaking will have things flowing like new, and will avoid all that toxic crap from going into our sewers (remember, sewer water is often treated to be drinking water). The less unnecessary toxic stuff, the better - and sewer snakes are much cheaper and will last forever in the ling run.

Very wise!

There are quite a few varients- I think even Liquid Plumbr makes one. It’s not the brand that’s important, it’s the ingredients. Ask at your local Hardware store.

Oh, and for everone’s shower drain- there is a little 2’ long plastic thingee, with “backwards” “barbs” on it- shove it down, and then when you pull it out, the hair comes with it. Great for preventing clogs.