No, Daily Mail, just no

He’s got metal! Man puts his BARE HAND straight through fiery molten ore and is left unscathed


Is this skill or madness? In this remarkable footage a foundry worker can be seen putting his hand straight through boiling hot molten metal.

That’s better. Metal, whether molten or not, and ore, are different things.

A useful analogy would be that the bloke eating a sandwich is eating flour. Well, yes,-ish. The bread is made from flour. Metal is made from ore. But it’s still not true that bread is flour, nor metal ore.

26 thoughts on “No, Daily Mail, just no”

  1. But it’s still not true that bread is flour, nor metal ore.

    True, but I think you meant that as well as bread not being flour, metal is not ore.

  2. Was it really boiling hot? I don’t know which metal it was but, for example, the boiling point of iron is 2,862 °C. (Source: the internet).

    I think they use “boiling” the way that The Young do, to mean really jolly hot, actually. Just as they use “freezing” to refer to any breezy day when the temperature falls below about 10 °C.

  3. Its the same thing with lookalikey lithuanians at Yarmouth market every saturday who can eat very hot chips from the chips stall and text at the same time whilst laughing at their mates choice of wheels trims bought from Halfords

  4. With journalists, like Humpty Dumpty, words mean what they want them to mean.
    But I think I know how this is done. Discovered it by accident.
    When you work with gold or silver you have to anneal the metal to make it workable. With gold you heat it to cherry red, allow it to cool to black, then dunk it in cold water. When you work metal, the crystals the metal’s composed of line up & make it brittle. Annealing disassociates the crystals & make it pliable.
    Did this one day with about 4 ounces of gold been melted out of scrap & cast as an ingot. Then put through the roller mill on it’s way to being drawn as wire. So that’s a piece of metal about 4 inches long, diameter of a finger. Annealed it, picked it up with the tongs & dipped it in the water bucket. Except I missed the water. When I took it out of the tongs it was still just under red hot. Slipped through my fingers like wet bar of soap. But no burn. Didn’t even feel hot. Just left a white mark across my palm.
    I think what happens is the moisture on the surface of the skin is instantly vaporised. The metal rides on a layer of steam & never actually touches the skin. But the layer of superheated steam is so thin, it’s actual heat content is trivial. Not enough to penetrate the skin.

  5. BiS,

    It’s called the Leidenfrost effect; Mythbusters (peace be upon them) did an episode testing whether you could dip your hands into molten metal safely (starting with sausages and working up to their own tender digits).

    Exactly as you say, if you’re quick, and especially if your hands are wet, surface moisture insulates for long enough that fleeting contact (grab, slip, drop) doesn’t burn you. But if it sticks, or if you apply pressure, or if it remains in contact… pain, lots of pain.

  6. @Jason
    I’m not sure about wet hands. One doesn’t sustain a burn because the quantity of water vapour is very low. It’s dry steam at high temperature & pressure. More water & you’re gong to get a lot of steam that’ll stick. Wet steam. Lower temperature & lower pressure.

  7. BiS

    And just exactly why were you melting down gold?

    Suspicious mind I have, but given the people you seem to know……


  8. @bilbaoboy
    I learned to be a pretty fair gold & silversmith. Did it for several years. One of a number of careers I’ve managed to accumulate over the years.
    Why be competent in only the one thing? How boring! Variety’s the spice of life. And there’s very few things a person can’t learn.
    Why should they be? Look at the idiots are doing them now!

  9. BiS,

    Mythbusters (filming in southern California, often looked a bit arid in the outdoor shots) were dipping their hands in water, then the molten metal (might have been lead, might only be solder) probably for extra protection – especially because they were probably filming multiple takes. You shouldn’t need the extra water, but it doesn’t hurt and makes the insurers happy.

    The key point is that there’s a film of dry steam between the metal and your hand – whether the surface the other side of that film is surface water, calloused skin or tender flesh won’t matter.

    One of the explorations of the effect was in boiler fire tubes – hotter tube temperatures suddenly started reducing steam generation, because of the insulating steam film: even if you had the tube full of cold water, and a raging fire outside, around the Leidenfrost point the water came out hardly warmer than it went in, and it took metallurgy and construction improvements to get past that up to flash boilers. (and there I’m already going beyond my knowledge of steam plant…)

  10. Off topic.

    Every Tuesday at City University. 13:00 to 13:50.

    Professor Taterhead.

    “IP2030 Economics of the Real World/Lecture 01/01

    Tait Building CLG55”

    It would be interesting to know WTF he blathers on about.

  11. Andrew C, would be worth opening a spread betting book on the length of time it takes for the attendees to nod off.

    I’ll bet there isn’t a Q&A session.

  12. I’ve never had the opportunity / nerve to do this, but I believe this Leidenfrost business works just as well in reverse: You can stick your hand in a bucket of liquid nitrogen for a little bit and no damage is done.

  13. RJB: I used to teach undergraduate physics and would demonstrate that at the beginning of the thermodynamics lab. It was partially to help students avoid the temptation of doing it themselves but in an incompetent way.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Yeah, when I was at Imperial we used to wander down to the cryostat, run off a half gallon or so into a Dewar (if you are wearing a lab coat no-one gives you a second glance) and take it up to the undergrad lab to muck about with it. Polystyrene cups are good beakers. You could put your finger in it for quite a few seconds without ill effect. You could even if you were stupid take a swig as long as you weren’t so stupid as to swallow it (bad things happen then). It’s one of the reasons why LN isn’t a particularly good coolant unless you make an effort. Much better is a slush of nitrogen ice and liquid. Also you can pre-cool with acetone or surgical alcohol and dry ice which greatly reduces the amount of LN you need. You have to be a bit careful as nitrogen displaces air and you can asphyxiate.

  15. Matthew

    You may not know that our polymath friend the Prof has also commented on the second law of thermodynamics, more than once

  16. Bloke in Costa Rica

    RJB: you have my sympathies. Bloomsbury’s not a patch on South Ken. I almost did a Master’s at King’s but for some godforsaken reason decided to do it at Bradford instead. What was I thinking?

  17. @BICR. Oh liquid nitrogen. I recall a mate studying for his PhD at university had a case of warts. Best way to remove is freeze with n2 which his doctor had taught him how to do it, as my mate was a curious type. Anyway. He fills a thermos with liquid n2 from the physics lab and drives it home, with lid ajar obviously. I was following on my motorbike. All good except he had to brake suddenly and the container spilled. On a hot summer day. In a mini. Cue frantic window winding and some driving with head out of said window. Would have been interesting to have had the world’s first car crash due to driver asphyxiation.

  18. “What caused the molten metal to come to life?”
    Its called a ‘cobble’, happens when the metal being rolled comes off the track through the rolling mill and basically stops. Unfortunately, the metal behind is still moving at up to 30 mph and so you get this pile up till the mill can shut down. Its actually more common in rolling mills than you might think, quite pretty from a considerable distance!.
    I think that steelworker is actually putting his hand through the slag from a furnace, I judge this by the colour and splash of the liquid, the fact that it seems to be going into a seperate container rather than a ladle, and the lack of sparking and fuming you usually get when you tap steel into a ladle.

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