Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts - Why You Should Never Have a Liquid Nitrogen Pool Party

September 02, 2016

This week we look at the fun that can be had at a pool party but also how quickly everything can go wrong. This fascinating fact is less fun than most of our blogs and is perhaps a little scary but if just a couple of event planners are more informed as a result, then hey, that’s got to be worth writing about.

Nitrogen gas can be a lot of fun, especially at events. Liquid nitrogen liquefies at anything below -195.79 °C and will ‘boil’ at anything above temperature. When it is used at corporate parties for making ice cream for example, the liquid nitrogen is released from its specialised container and will almost instantaneously turn into a gas, which is pretty damned cool.

As such, corporate events occasionally like to hire in some liquid nitrogen, generally using it to make ice cream. It can be expensive but when you’re spending thousands of pounds on your entire party, the cost to have it on hand is almost negligible. Unless you’re hosting a pool party, in which case we think we should go on record as saying this is a terrible idea.

Unfortunately, back in Leon, Mexico in 2013, nobody had told any of the organisers exactly what can happen. A pool party is great fun and the idea was that at this huge event sponsored by Jagermeister, revellers would be able to enjoy a party and a swim surrounded by liquid nitrogen. What could be cooler than swimming through the cloud of gas? An incredible sight and a hell of a photo opportunity…

…Until swimmers started passing out.

You might be thinking that the nitrogen interacted with the chemicals in the pool but this isn’t the case. It didn’t have to in order to cause a nightmarish series of events… When the liquid nitrogen was poured into the pool, it instantly warmed up (as planned) to create the customary cloud, which sat above the water. So far, so Instagram. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly dangerous if you happened to be swimming in the water at the time (and also, to be honest, is surely a safety hazard when it comes to walking around the pool, but that was the least of people’s worries.)

As the nitrogen spread across the pool, it pushed all the oxygen away that had been there previously. Swimmers were suffocating due to the fact that their bodies were only taking nitrogen into their bodies and to make matters worse, the swimmers may not have realised they were asphyxiating as quickly as you might expect. The feeling you get when you’re normally struggling for breath is due to struggling to release carbon dioxide, which in this case wasn’t a problem. As such, the swimmers were passing out, when previously, they appeared to be just fine. Oh and that layer of liquid nitrogen on the pool? Because it’s practically opaque, very few could see that the swimmers were in trouble and the few that did notice had trouble saving them because then they too would begin struggling for breath.

Amazingly, nobody died in the incident but nine people were hospitalised, with one falling into a coma. Thankfully, everybody recovered but it could have been much worse, which is why you should never mess with liquid nitrogen. Especially at a pool party.



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By Henry Fosdike