Experiments

Salsa Prison Escape

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Salsa Escape"
Foodpix/Getty Images

Finding: PLAUSIBLE

Explanation: Rumor has it that in 1996, Mexican prisoner Juan Lopez broke out of jail by dissolving his cell bars with salsa — a process that supposedly took six years. To find out whether the condiment really has the muscle to melt metal, MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman put themselves behind bars.

Testing pH levels of various salsas revealed that mild salsas contain higher acid, and ample salinity would provide an additional corrosive element. Armed with salty, mild salsa, the MythBusters jump-started (and sped up) their jailbreak with electrolysis. They passed an electric DC current through the chip dip (to serve as the electrolyte) to draw electrons from the negatively charged steel rod, through the salsa and to a copper wire. As a result, the electron-deficient iron began to rust.

Sure enough, after four months, the rod had rusted through almost completely. The salsa had long since soured, but the flowing electrons ate away at the iron and proved the jailhouse myth plausible.

Taco night just took on a whole new meaning in prison cafeterias everywhere.

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