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Birthday cake explodes thanks to sneaky volatile ingredient (VIDEO)


SheKnows Editorial

I’ve been surprised by a lot of things at my birthday parties, but this really takes the cake.

Unbeknownst to his family, George’s biggest birthday surprise wasn’t wrapped up in a box.

It was on a cake platter. As his family sang “Happy Birthday,” George went to blow out the candles on his cake, when BOOM! His head was practically engulfed in a fireball. Thank God he wasn’t wearing hair spray!


More: 9 Kids’ birthday cake FAILS that will probably traumatize them for life

So what the heck happened?

I turns out the cake was topped with powdered sugar instead of icing (note to self…). Powdered sugar is flammable, but there’s nothing about it chemically that makes it more likely than any other organic material to explode. The real danger comes from the fact that it’s a dust.

When George went to blow out his candles, he blew a bunch of powdered sugar into the air, creating a cloud of flammable organic matter. And once it’s airborne, this dust cloud interacts more easily with the oxygen around it, which makes it pretty volatile.

More: Every school needs to adopt the birthday cake ban

As the candle flame came into contact with the first particle of sugar, it was then fed by the surrounding oxygen, and it started a chain reaction that ignited all the sugar particles in the cloud.

Of course, to the naked eye, this chain reaction happens super quickly, causing the fireball seen in the video.

So next time you’re making a birthday cake, it might be wise to use traditional frosting. And if you absolutely have your heart set on a powdered sugar topping, definitely forgo the candles.

Thankfully no one got hurt, but I can bet that this is one birthday George and his family will never forget.

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