Sunday, June 21, 2009

A troublesome crystal


A while ago we were talking about kidney stones. One of the variety of things that kidney stones can be comprised of is Struvite. To the chemically inclined, it is ammonium magnesium phosphate.

But today I want to mention one of struvite's other incarnations.

Tinned fish.

Struvite crystals will grow in tinned fish, especially salmon. Looking for all the world like pieces of windscreen glass after a crash, the crystals will come in for testing as "glass found in a tin of fish".

But it is not glass. And it is not harmful.

Should you swallow some it will dissolve in your gastric juices.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flavoured e-Cigars

Chairman Bill said "Instead of smoking, I vape in my e-cigar propylene-glycol with nicotine that has flavourings added - banana, vanilla, etc.

Of late I have been 'cutting' the e-liquid with BP glycerine to make it go further, which does tend to dry out the mucous membranes a tad. However, my question is about added flavourings.

Given the e-liquid is vaporised prior to inhalation, what chemicals that commonly appear in food flavourings should I keep well clear of. I believe caramel bungs up the works of the e-cigar due to the sugars, but I'm led to believe that food flavourings can also have some added chemicals that can undergo a transition when vapourised and could be dangerous.

Blowed if I know, Bill.

It's not that a particular flavouring is dangerous. I am assuming that they are not burnt in the normal cigar/cigarette sense. If that is the case, they are all dangerous.

If the vaporisation is not at a particularly high temperature, they should all be OK.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kidney Stones

Kidney stone crystals.

Kris Loves Chocolate asks: "Could there be any truth to drinking pickle juice to dissolve a kidney stone? "

First let me say that I am a food chemist, not a pharmacist. By rights, I have no right to answer medical questions and any answer is based more on logic than medical knowledge.

Now, having said that, let me say this:

Kidney stones are things that have deposited, crystallised, from your urine. There are several types of kidney stones, so no one thing will cure them all.

For something like pickle juice, basically vinegar, to dissolve them it would need to get past your stomach and intestinal system and have an influence on the composition of your urine. Not impossible, by all accounts something in cranberries makes the passage and has a remedial effect with regard to urinary tract infections. But I am not convinced that acetic acid, the acid in pickle juice, will do that. Most body fluids are pretty tightly controlled for their pH.

More plausible is that drinking more fluids may lower the concentration of the salts in the urine that lead to the stones and then they may redissolve.


I see no reason why pickle juice cannot be this fluid but water would be more palatable.

For more informed information, visit the Mayo Clinic site.