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Explosive Hog-Shit Foam

Not only is whipped hog excrement a nauseating notion, it's potentially explosive.
May 15, 2013, 8:35pm
Yup. That's the frothy shit that rose to the top. Image via

You know that awful moment you need to use a bathroom at a city park? You walk into that shady anti-oasis, turn its Fisher-Price-style-lock and try to avoid a few things: a) Breathing through your nose b) touching anything, or c) peering through that ring into the "bucket" of magenta soup and other people's darkest moments shit. Of course, it's not going to kill you, but it seems like it might.

According to a presentation by agricultural researchers at the University of Minnesota, there's quicker, tangible ways for shit to kill us. Layers of noxious foam–up to four feet thick–collect atop vats of manure at hog farms. Working as an airseal, the foam can capture large amounts of flammable methane beneath its bubbly surface. A stray spark from a welder, a mechanical heat element, or a worker's cigarette can create flash-fires and incredible blasts, capable of mass destruction.

While reports in the past have labeled farm explosions as "mysterious," awaiting evidence to link them to the shit bubbles, U of M's research offers some best practices for dealing with the fast-growing foam. Ventilation is key, and agitation of the stew is helpful. There is also talk of using monesin, an antibiotic generally given to cattle to help them grow faster, to treat the pits of dispair. Twenty-five pounds of monesin is effective in preventing half million-gallon tanks from foaming.

As research from schools in the Midwest continue to explore other treatment and management procedures, a worry lingers, like stink above a hog farm in July: That the explosive manure foam could become just another widely-acknowledged-yet-dismissed hazard of negligence and cost cutting, hissing in the background of the American food industry. But perhaps mass-scale loss of the Other White Meat will have farms and regulating agencies adopting a way to cut the shit, and remove these sudden-death suds.