Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Little, Invisible, Smelly Snowflakes

I am only posting this because you all made me. I removed it, but it is back by popular demand. Don’t say I never did anything for you. Happy Thanksgiving. You can be thankful for me and my love of the fart.

Promise me you will read the Q&A below. I did not do the Q’ing or the A’ing, but I KNOW, as my readers, you will love this as much as I did.  Although the title, What Makes a Fart?, might sound silly and childish, I DARE you to not be enlightened and humored by the content of this lovely article. You might get some trivia for your holiday party!

What Makes a Fart?

By Jonathan Smith

Did you know that no two farts are exactly alike? It’s true. Farts are sort of like snowflakes in that regard. Little, invisible, smelly snowflakes.

While everybody past the age of 10 is well-versed in the manifold variety of farts and their associated sounds and smells and sensations and sobriquets, precious few of us know anything at all about the sources of their great diversity. Can you, for instance, explain the lingering piquancy of the "hot fart" in any greater scientific detail than "that one was spicy"? I can't. And that's sad. In order to rectify this egregious oversight by the American public school system and get the straight poop on the basics of butt-gas, I had a little sit down with Dr. Lester Gottesman, a proctologist from St. Luke's Roosevelt who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jerry Springer.

What’s up with the wide variety of noises farts make? Why do some come out as squeakers and others like a diesel truck going up a mountain?

The kinds of flatulence are directly related to the amount of swallowed air and the ability of the intestine to degrade food stuff to gas. It also has to do with the shape of the sphincter when the gas is released. If the sphincter is tight, it will make a different noise than if it’s more relaxed.

Often times my farts feel physically hot. What causes that sensation?

The sensation of heat is when the internal sphincter opens a little to sample what’s in the rectum. That is a normal response. If there isn’t a great deal of gas, the body will expel it slower, allowing you to feel the fart’s heat. If there is a lot of gas, the gas comes out too quickly for the body to feel the heat.

Is the temperature of the slow, hot farts actually higher than the quick, cool ones?

The temperature should be the same. Again, it is a product of the amount and speed in which one expels gas.

What’s the reason behind the smell?

The smell has to do with the amount of absorbed products like methane, which is made by fermentation of what we eat, and that’s what causes the bad smell, basically. As a baby, when you’re born, passing through the vagina, you’re infected by the bacteria in your mother’s colon, and that’s the bacteria you’re dealt for your lifetime. Also, everybody is different in how they’ll digest wheat products, milk products, whatever. And if they are not digested properly there will be a lot of methane produced and a lot of acid, and that would tend to cause a stinkier bowl movement.

Wait, go back to that thing about the vagina.

A baby is born with a sterile intestinal track. During the delivery, there’s lots of fluid and stool and whatever, and it’s thought that at that exposure the baby’s colon is populated by the mother’s colon bacteria, thereby affecting the smell of the individual's farts for the rest of their lifetime. There’s also other theories claiming the colon is populated during the first few months of exposure to fecal material, but that probably doesn’t affect the smell as much as the initial intake of feces by the baby during delivery.

Wow. It's like original shit sin. Does what your mother ate prior to delivery effect the bacteria you get?

Yes. In fact, they now also think that the appendix keeps an arsenal of bacteria so that if, for whatever reason, the bacteria in your colon gets killed by antibiotics the appendix can repopulate your colon with the bacteria that you’ve had since birth. That’s the new thought as to why the appendix is around.

So the signature smell of your farts wholly depends on how much poop your mom had at the time…

It’s not the amount, just the type of bacteria.

OK, but that's really what determines your fart smell forever?

Well, there are also other components. Farts are made by two things. They are made by one, the amount of air you swallow--so people who drink a lot of soda, chew a lot of gum, suck on candies, they get a lot of air into their colon, and that air comes out in farts. The second component is gas production by the colon. The colon’s job is to break down the nutrients in food products, like proteins and fats and sugars, and in the process of breaking them down they produce either sulfur or methane, neither of which smell great. If, let’s say, the colon has stuff in it like grapes and beans, and if it’s just sitting there for a few days it’s just going to ferment more and more until it becomes very smelly, versus if what you eat goes through quickly--like if you had the same beans, but it came out eight hours later, you’ll tend not to have as much gas from those beans. So it has to do with what your intestinal transit is. For most people, it takes 32 hours from the time they eat something to the time they shit something. That’s the average, so that means there are people who move their bowels every three or four days, and they have more time for the beans to ferment in the colon, thereby producing larger amounts of gas and more frequent, smellier spasms of gas.

What’s the correlation between the increased level of farts and drinking beer or coffee?

Well, beer is carbonated, so that’s why it makes you fart. Coffee causes the sphincter muscles to relax just a little bit, so you tend to have more farts by accident if you’re drinking something with caffeine than if you aren't.

Where does the differentiation between burps and farts occur? Why does some gas come out of your mouth vs. your ass?

It has to do with the configuration and the tone of muscles in your stomach. If you drink a whole lot of liquid with bubbles quickly, if you take one of these [picks up a can of diet Pepsi] and down it quickly there will be so much gas produced that the gas will need to go someplace, and the best place to go is to come back up. If you’re drinking a small amount, then it has time to work its way through the small intestine and get to the large intestine, at which point the body starts fermenting it.

I’ve also had people who want me to operate on their anuses to make their fart sounds a little more appealing.

Get the f&$k  out of here, what kind of a fart sound are they going for?

Generally they have a higher pitched sound, and they want something with a lower pitch.

Like a baritone versus a squeaker?

Basically. So I had to configure their anus skin so their fart sound would be more to their pleasing.

Oh shit, you actually did it? Someone paid you to make their farts sound better.

Well they tried to put it through with their insurance.

Which insurance company is willing to pay for that?

None, so far all the companies have denied it. But the people try and then they end up having to pay for it.


There is actually a bit more to the article that is hilarious, but graphic. Go HERE to read.

So, what’d you learn? I was fascinated by the fact that a mom gives her child the gift of his/her fart smell for the rest of their lives. I say to my kids: you are welcome!

What do you think make someone want to go into the field of proctology? I don’t know. I might have to call up Dr. Jelly Finger to get that answer.



  1. How rude...I love it. Always a big chuckle around here when someone lets one go!!!!!

  2. I am SO glad to have this information. I am constantly asked why that happens and why it smells like it does. I love being well-informed :) My kids will LOVE this.

  3. Well Karen let one rip right in front of me today. Uncalled for to say the least but I had to do to her what she does to me and get mad. Though I was dying laughing on the inside.

  4. why would anyone want surgery?? Funny sounding farts are THE BEST!!

  5. I gleefully related all the info in this post to my husband. His response: "You read too much."

  6. I had a horrifying fascination with this post....what was worse was that I had an even MORE horrifying fascination with actual article/interview. It sure was graphic.

  7. This post is awesome! I just sent the article to several friends. We all know we wonder about this shit (pun intended) but are too embarrassed to ask.

  8. This is possibly the best blog post I've ever read. I shared it with my (similarly obsessed with bodily functions) friend and she said it made her month. LOVE it!

  9. I'm with LaLa Mama - I was truly interested in this post...Why?! and how scary is THAT?!
    What really makes my mouth drop is that someone could sit down with a Doctor and ask those questions. The Dr. answers with all the seriousness of fatal diseases! Amazing! I wouldn't be able to get the questions out for laughing so hard.

  10. Beth - Just to prove that farts are funny and interesting, Mark's Daily Apple provides more info: