Everything You Wanted to Know About Flatulence But Were Afraid to Ask

What makes flatulence stink?

The odour of flatulence comes from small amounts of hydrogen sulphide gas and mercaptans in the mixture. These compounds contain sulphur. Nitrogen-rich compounds such as skatole and indole also add to the stench of flatulence. The more sulphur-rich your diet, the more sulphides and mercaptans will be produced by the bacteria in your guts, and the more your flatulence will stink.

Foods such as cauliflower and eggs are notorious for producing smelly flatulence, whereas beans produce large amounts of not particularly stinky flatulence. ( Editor : what about turkey? ).

Why are stinky flatulence generally warmer and quieter than regular flatulence?

Most flatulence gas comes from swallowed air and consists largely of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, the oxygen having been absorbed by the time it reaches the anal opening. These gases are odourless, although they often pick up other (and more odiferous) components on the way through the bowel. They emerge from the anus in fairly large bubbles at body temperature. A person can often achieve a good sound with these voluminous flatulence, but they are commonly (but not always!) mundane with respect to odour, and don’t feel particularly warm.

Another major source of flatulence gas is bacterial action. Bacterial fermentation and digestion processes produce heat as a by-product as well as various pungent gases. The resulting bubbles of gas tend to be small, hot, and concentrated with stinky bacterial metabolic products. These emerge as the notorious, warm, SBD (Silent-But-Deadly), often in amounts too small to produce a good sound, but excelling in stench.

How much gas does a normal person pass per day?

On average, a person produces about half a litre of flatulence gas per day, distributed over an average of about fourteen daily flatulence. Whereas it may be difficult for you to determine your daily flatus volume, you can certainly keep track of your daily numerical flatulence count. You might try this as a science fair project: Keep a journal of everything you eat and a count of your flatulence. You might make a note of the potency of their odour as well. See if you can discover a relationship between what you eat, how much you flatulate, and how much they smell.

How long does it take flatulence gas to travel to someone else’s nose?

Flatulence travel time depends on atmospheric conditions such as humidity, temperature and wind speed and direction, the molecular weight of the flatulence particles, and the distance between the flatulence transmitter and the flatulence receiver.

Flatulences also disperse (spread out) as they leave the source, and their potency diminishes with dilution. Generally, if the flatulence is not detected within a few seconds, it will be too dilute for perception and will be lost into the atmosphere forever. Exceptional conditions exist when the flatulence is released into a small enclosed area such as an elevator, a small room, or a car. These conditions limit the amount of dilution possible, and the flatulence may remain in a smellable concentration for a long period of time, until it condenses on the walls.

Why is there a 13 to 20 second delay between flatulences and the time it starts to smell?

Actually, the flatulence stinks immediately upon emergence, but it takes several seconds for the odour to travel to the farter’s nostrils. If flatulence could travel at the speed of sound, we would smell them almost instantly, at the same time we hear them.

Is it true that some people never flatulate?

No, not if they’re alive. People even flatulate shortly after death.

Do even movie stars flatulate?

Yes most men take more pride in it than most women. There is a large variation among individuals in the amount of flatulence gas produced per day, but the variation does not correlate with gender. I have read that men flatulate more often than women. If this is true, then women must be saving it up and expelling more gas per flatulation than men do.

Do men’s flatulence smell worse than women’s flatulence?

Based on what I have experienced of women’s flatulence, all I can say is that I hope not..

At what time of day is a gentleman most likely to flatulate?

A gentleman is mostly likely to flatulate first thing in the morning, while in the bathroom. This is known as "morning thunder," and if the gentleman gets good resonance, it can be heard throughout the household.

Why are beans so notorious for making people flatulate?

Beans contain sugars that we humans cannot digest. When these sugars reach our intestines, the bacteria go wild, have a big feast, and make lots of gas! Other notorious flatulence-producing foods include corn, bell peppers, cabbage, milk, ( editor : TURKEY!!!! ) and raisins. A friend of mine had a dog who was exceptionally fond of apples and turnips. The dog would eat these things and then get prodigious gas. A dog’s digestive system is not equipped to handle such vegetable matter, so the dog’s bacteria worked overtime to produce remarkable flatulence.

What things other than diet can make a person flatulate more than usual?

People who swallow a lot of air flatulate more than people who don’t. This can be cured somewhat by chewing with your mouth closed. Nervous people with fast moving bowels will flatulate more because less air is absorbed out of the intestines. Some disease conditions can cause excess flatulence. And going up in an airplane or other low- pressure environment can cause the gas inside you to expand and emerge as flatulence.

Is a flatulation really just a burp that comes out the wrong end?

No, a burp emerges from the stomach and has a different chemical composition from a flatulation. Flatulations have less atmospheric gas content and more bacterial gas content than burps.

Is it harmful to hold in Flatulations?

There are differences in opinion on this one. Certainly, people have believed for centuries that retaining flatulence is bad for the health. Emperor Claudius even passed a law legalizing flatulating at banquets out of concern for people’s health. There was a widespread belief that a person could be poisoned or catch a disease by retaining flatulence. Doctors I have spoken to recently have told me that there is no particular harm in holding in flatulence. Flatulence will not poison you; they are a natural component of your intestinal contents. The worst thing that can happen is that you may get a stomach ache from the gas pressure. But one doctor suggested that pathological distension of the bowel could result if a person holds in flatulence too much.

How long would it be possible to not Flatulate?

As I understand it, a captive flatulence can escape as soon as the person relaxes. This means that a lot of people who assiduously refrain from flatulating during the day do so at great length as soon as they fall asleep. Having been on a great many overnight field trips, long bus trips, and trans-Pacific flights, I can personally vouch for the fact that lots of people do flatulate voluminously as they doze off. So the answer to the question would be, you can refrain from flatulence as long as you can stay awake!

Do all people flatulate in their sleep?

I have not made a scientific study of this, but I don’t think all people flatulate in their sleep. I think mainly those who refuse to flatulate when they’re awake do so when dozing off. For other people, toilet training takes such a strong hold that they let nothing pass their sphincters in sleep. For these people, the gas accumulates in the night and they vent it upon awakening.

Where do Flatulations go when you hold them in?

How often have you held in a flatulation, intending to release it at the first appropriate opportunity, only to find that the flatulence has disappeared when you are ready for it? I asked several doctors where the flatulence goes. Does it leak out slowly without the person knowing it? Is it absorbed into the bloodstream? What happens to it? The doctors agree that the flatulence is neither released nor absorbed. It simply migrates back upward into the intestine and comes out later. It is reassuring to know that such flatulence aren’t really lost, just delayed.

How can one cover up a flatulation?

There is a company called Fartypants that sells underwear designed to absorb the odour of flatulence. If you should be caught without your Fartypants, another ploy is to blame the dog or cat, if one should be present, or complain about how the wind must be blowing from the direction of the paper mill. As for the sound… if you are in a large group of people, act oblivious and innocent, or glance quickly at the person next to you, as if you think he/she did it. Other strategies include coughing or suddenly moving your chair so that people think that they misheard the flatulence. If you are with one other person, you can act as if nothing happened, and the other person may believe he was mistaken in thinking he heard a flatulence. CJT addresses the problem of flatulating loudly in a public restroom as follows: "My solution: use a handful of loose toilet paper, cover your rear and it will muffle the flatulence; my friends and I call it the ‘Buff Muff’!" Depending upon the company, another strategy is not to cover it up, but to proudly proclaim the flatulence as your own grand accomplishment and to issue a challenge to the others to outdo that one if they think they can.

Is it really possible to ignite flatulations?

The answer to that is yes! However, you should be aware that people get injured igniting flatulence. Not only can the flame back up into your colon, but your clothing or other surroundings may catch on fire. A survey done by Fartcloud (the site, alas! is no more) indicates that about a quarter of the people who ignited their flatulence got burned doing it. Ignition of flatulence is a hazardous practice. However, if you want to try it, and you don’t have a friend to light your flatulence for you. There have also been cases in which intestinal gases with a higher than normal oxygen content have exploded during surgery when electric cautery was used by the surgeon.

Why is possible to burn flatulence?

Flatulations burn because they contain methane (usually) and hydrogen, both of which are flammable gases. (Hydrogen was the same gas that was used in the ill fated Hindenburg dirigible.) Flatulations tend to burn with a blue or yellow flame.

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