Dangers of Dragons Breath and Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and Drinks

If you have been on social media in the last year, you have most likely seen a frozen treat called Dragons Breath. It gets its name from the mist that you exhale created by the liquid nitrogen the cereal is dipped it. While this treat looks cool, it can be dangerous and has led to children and even adults being hospitalized. Let’s take a closer look at Dragons Breath and other treats that are made by using liquid nitrogen.  

What is Dragons Breath Ice Cream?

Dragons Breath is not really ice cream at all. It is made with a cereal that looks like fruit loops, which is put in a cup and then liquid nitrogen is poured over the cereal. This puffs the cereal up and super chills each piece of the cereal. The ‘smoke’ that is released is just super chilled air. People who have tried this treat have claimed that it tastes like watered down fruit loops and the cereal is only fun because of the ‘smoke’ that they can blow out of their noses and mouths, which makes them look like a dragon.

There is also ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen super chills the ingredients in the ice cream, so most liquid nitrogen ice cream shops do not need to have a freezer at all. The ice cream is similar to other kinds of ice cream being made with cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, and other add-ins. When the liquid nitrogen is poured into the ice cream base, the ice cream is formed immediately. The liquid nitrogen starts boiling off and there is ‘smoke’, which is just super chilled air that is coming off of the ice cream. 

This Dragons Breath treat has to be eaten using the sticks and comes with a cup cover that you have to hold it by. The liquid nitrogen ice cream is often served in a cup that is placed inside a second cup. There is usually a warning sign on the packaging saying that the ‘Liquid nitrogen can be dangerous and one should not touch or ingest it’. Some liquid nitrogen ice cream shops recommend that people should actually wait until the smoke stops coming from the ice cream before they eat it. So, the main question most people should be asking is ‘Exactly how dangerous are these frozen treats if people actually eat them?’

What Is Liquid Nitrogen?

There are other frozen treats on the market and even cocktails that use liquid nitrogen in them. Most people know liquid nitrogen from science class. Liquid nitrogen has a very low boiling point (between -346F and -320F) and can freeze anything that it comes in contact with. It is often used to show what happens in extreme cold. A common science experiment is dipping a rose into the liquid nitrogen, and then smashing it against a table or crushing it with a gloved hand. Since the liquid nitrogen is so cold, it is always boiling when it becomes exposed to room temperature and super chilling the air creating a mist known as ‘smoke’. 

Is Liquid Nitrogen Safe to Eat?

Liquid Nitrogen is non-toxic; however, this does not mean that it is completely safe to eat. Since liquid nitrogen has a very low boiling point, it can freeze any item on contact. While cooking with liquid nitrogen is not new, when it is not used correctly it can do a huge amount of damage to your body. It is even illegal in some areas of the world to sell items that have been made with liquid nitrogen. 

When you use liquid nitrogen in food items, the nitrogen gas often evaporates before the item is consumed. So, this means that the food is not as cool as it was when the liquid nitrogen was first poured on it. The issue of the liquid nitrogen being hazardous to a person’s health occurs when the liquid nitrogen is left in the container with the food. The liquid nitrogen in the bottom of the cup of Dragons Breath and inside of the cereal treats is still super chilled and can cause instantaneous frostbite, especially if you come in contact with it. 

A sugary drink made with liquid nitrogen from a popular candy store

So, Exactly How Dangerous is Liquid Nitrogen? 

Across the globe, there have been dozens of cases of people being rushed to the hospital after eating and drinking items made with liquid nitrogen. The effects of ingesting the items that are made with liquid nitrogen range from asthma attacks to frostbite to severe damage to the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Some people have even gotten frostbite on their hands just from holding the cups with the liquid nitrogen in them. 

Along with freezing the body’s tissues on contact, the nitrogen gas released from the liquid nitrogen can exert pressure, leak into tissues, and even cause perforations. There are so many risks to drinking and eating liquid nitrogen that is hard to know what could happen when you try eating these frozen treats. 

Most people who were hospitalized from ingesting liquid nitrogen needed surgeries to remove the damaged tissues from their bodies. Since the packaging for many of the foods have warnings on them, there is nothing that the victims of liquid nitrogen can do against the companies who are selling these items. Many of the victims have been children and teens, but there are also adults who have been hospitalized because they have touched or ingested items made with liquid nitrogen.   

The bottom line is that liquid nitrogen is not safe to eat or drink in any form. Liquid nitrogen treats are not safe for adults, so they should definitely never be given to children of any age. It should be common sense to realize that when someone has to wear dry gloves to even handle the container to avoid getting frostbite or getting stuck to the metal container, you should really question just how safe the item is that you are eating. 

What Other Foods, Treats, and Drinks Use Liquid Nitrogen? 

Liquid nitrogen is mostly used to quickly make ice cream, freeze dry herbs and fruit, along with many more items you may have in your kitchen. It has been used in kitchens around the globe for the last decade to make some absolutely amazing dishes, such as deep-fried hamburgers and frozen truffles. The liquid nitrogen is usually used to quick freeze or chill items to keep the flavor in the specialty dish or food item. The small crystals that are formed during the process of using liquid nitrogen do not affect the food’s quality or nutritional value, so the food’s properties are kept intact. It is also said that using liquid nitrogen intensifies both the smell and flavor in the dishes it is used to create.

There are many safe ways of using liquid nitrogen, since the nitrogen is boiled off the food before it is eaten, like in the case of ice cream drops and some mousses. However, if the food item is left in the liquid nitrogen and served with the liquid nitrogen in the cup or container, there is the risk of tissue damage if it is touched or ingested. Luckily, you can see if there is liquid nitrogen in an item because you can see the ‘smoke’ or the item will be cold but be boiling at the same time.  The ‘smoke’ can even be floating and rolling on the top of the drink or food.  

Is There a Safe Way to Eat Liquid Nitrogen? 

There are many food items that are currently made using liquid nitrogen. Some freeze dried foods, like frozen strawberries, are made using liquid nitrogen. These foods are safe because the liquid nitrogen has been allowed to boil off them, so the items have reached a safe temperature. Liquid Nitrogen is also used to make beer and some sodas. It is even used in some medications and medical treatments.  When it is used correctly and by professionals, liquid nitrogen can save time and even create better versions of commonly made products.                          

If you think that you would like to try these super chilled desserts and drinks, you should allow the gas to boil off and avoid ingesting any of the liquid nitrogen. This can be challenging with items that have liquid nitrogen poured on them, like in the case of Dragons Breath and some liquid nitrogen ice creams. The best option is to not buy these super chilled items in the first place. 

If you are looking for a cool treat, there are many great options on the market that are safe like ice cream, popsicles, and other delicious frozen treats. While the videos of people eating this super chilled, liquid nitrogen treat are shocking and breathtaking, eating them yourself could really take your breath away or have an even worse outcome. The risk of taking a video of yourself eating Dragon’s Breath is simply not worth it. There are many safe treats that make great videos, like rolled ice cream.