A viral video showing a McDonald's Big Mac winning against copper melted to around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit went viral after it was posted by YouTube user Tito4re on March 10. Many people were quick to associate the Big Mac's win with proof that it should not be consumed but, unfortunately for them, hard science says that is exactly what people should expect to happen to the burger.
Many people, as well as news outlets, were quick to point out that the video is proof of the unhealthiness and inedibility of Big Macs and other fast food menu items but this is not the case. What people witnessed is the Leidenfrost effect in action.
Watch the viral video below but do not get too shocked.
So let's get down to the science side of things before causing mass panic over inaccurate assumptions, shall we?
What Is The Leidenfrost Effect?
"The Leidenfrost effect is a phenomenon in which a liquid, in near contact with a mass significantly hotter than the liquid's boiling point, produces an insulating vapor layer keeping that liquid from boiling rapidly," Engineers Edge defines.
In simple terms, it is exactly what happened in the video posted by Tito4re and it would not matter if he did the experiment on the most expensive burger with the most organic patty or on a tofu patty posing as the juiciest meat you have ever seen. As long as the food item - just like the steak the YouTuber also experimented on - or any other object has moisture, the Leidenfrost effect will occur.
The Big Mac Is Not Liquid!
Hang on, the definition above says that it happens with liquid but the steak and burger are both solid.
Actually it still make senses because both the steak and the burger (patty, meat and everything else) have moisture in them. In short, the reason why the molten copper "rolled off" the surface of the burger is that the moment it made contact with the bun and patty, the moisture locked in them began to evaporate, forming a protective layer of vapor around the burger.
Yes, that would mean it would do the same to a human being but we extremely caution anyone from trying it. Just watch Jaime Hyneman and Adam Savage test it for you in the "MythBusters" video below - which is confirmed, by the way.
"While the video footage is real, it doesn't demonstrate any 'indestructible' aspects of a Big Mac. In fact, the results showcased in this video (just like experiments with seemingly non-rotting hamburgers) could likely be replicated with any burger (or similar food item), regardless of brand," Dan Evon from Snopes writes.
What Does This Prove?
The only thing the experiment does is to show the Leidenfrost effect in action but it cannot prove how indigestible something is. For a person to do that, they will have to use actual stomach acids from humans and replicate how the human body breaks down anything it ingests.
Steaks, Burgers And What's Next?
Now that you are aware of the Leidenfrost effect, we are pretty sure that it is also what you will witness when Tito4re does his next molten copper experiment which, according to him, will involve fries.
"Next video coming up is going to be molten copper vs McDonald's french fries," he wrote.
The video may become viral too and you may even watch it and see similar appalled reactions, but at least now you know better.