Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is currently hell-bent on showing off its deadly new bag of tricks, whether that's a dazzling display of blue fire, creating its own weather systems, or causing “curtains of fire”. All in all, this has meant the US Geological Survey (USGS) has had a busy month.
In between their public safety updates about the eruption, the USGS Volcano Twitter account was recently led to issue a serious public announcement: Don’t roast marshmallows over volcanoes.
One curious Twitter user asked the USGS account: “Is it safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents? Assuming you had a long enough stick, that is? Or would the resulting marshmallows be poisonous?”
“Erm,” they replied. “We’re going to have to say no, that’s not safe. Please don’t try!”
Obviously, the USGS was not just being a spoilsport – erupting volcanoes are no joke. As you can see from some of the footage coming out of Hawaii at the moment (below), you don't want to be anywhere near these things. Last week even saw reports of lava spatter hitting the leg of a Hawaii resident, causing it to shatter.
However, aside from the lava spatter danger, they also make another valid point about lava-cooked foods. The vents burp out a lot of unpleasant-smelling gases like sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, so your marshmallows would most likely taste like squishy rotten eggs. Yum.
If that wasn’t enough to put you off, they made an even more convincing point.
“If you add sulfuric acid (in vog, for example) to sugar, you get a pretty spectacular reaction,” the USGS tweeted.
“Hmm,” the Twitter user replied to the USGS. “Okay, what about roasting hot dogs?”
As of yet, there’s no reply. However, unless you like rotten egg-flavored hot dogs with a side of sulfuric acid, we suggest you stick to BBQs in your backyard.
Remarkably, roasting marshmallows on volcanos is not just a problem of the insane age of the viral video. Almost 15 years ago, three US tourists were severely burned by lava while trying to cook marshmallows on top of Mount Etna in Sicily, in what the media reported as an act of "extreme marshmallow toasting" by "foolhardy yuppies".