The latest teen challenge to take over YouTube may seem like harmless fun, but it can have serious consequences. The salt and ice challenge can leave participants with second- or third-degree burns and lasting scars.
New game has serious consequences
Keep reading to find out what this challenge is all about, and why the consequences are so serious.
The videos are all over YouTube — teens and even younger children challenging each other to a test of pain tolerance. It seems innocent enough, until you see the injuries many of them suffer.
What is the salt and ice challenge?
The challenge involves nothing more than a handful of salt and some ice cubes. Participants pour the salt into their hand and then add the ice cubes. Some simply close their fist and see how long they can hold it closed — others actually have friends press the salt/ice mixture onto their skin and hold it. The object is to see who has the higher pain tolerance and can withstand the burning pain the longest.
Part of the lure for teens is the possibility of becoming an internet superstar by posting a video on YouTube and sharing it with friends. The popularity of these videos makes it harder to stop teens from trying the challenge themselves, especially when they watch video footage of someone who isn’t badly injured.
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Why it burns
Tell your kids: The mixture of salt and ice cubes can cause third-degree burns because adding salt to ice or ice water makes it colder.
Think back to your basic chemistry class in high school, or the last time you made homemade ice cream. Adding salt to ice or ice water actually lowers the temperature and makes it colder than the regular freezing temperature for water, 32 degrees F. The mixture soaks up heat from the surrounding skin cells, causing a second- or third-degree burn similar to frostbite. Anyone who has ever had extended contact with ice or very cold water knows how uncomfortable it feels on your skin.
A 12-year-old Pittsburgh boy is recovering from second-degree burns after he participated in the challenge. Dr. Ariel Aballay, director at the West Penn Burn Center where the boy was treated, discussed the case and showed startling images of the boy’s burns. His parents, who chose to remain anonymous, released a statement: “We want teenagers and the general public to know that the ‘salt and ice challenge’ is extremely dangerous. Videos on YouTube, Facebook and other social media do not accurately show the terrible injuries that can result. We are grateful that our son is recovering and hope that sharing his story will stop other young people from attempting this stunt.”
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Take a few minutes to talk to your kids about this challenge, and share some of the horrible images of burns. What seems like a harmless game can leave scars for a lifetime.
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