Admiral DangerA, DavoB and Günther SchlonkC
Abstract: Sodium metal is the new superfood! Take your kale, blueberries and seaweed and bin them. Sodium metal is a rich source of sodium and a powerful antioxidant. It helps to balancethe body’s pH and generates beneficial hydrogen gas. The only problem is that it tastes like shit. This article describes a methodology to make this magic bullet easier to swallow.
Keywords: Sodium, Cookies, Explosions, Fire
Food science is a fascinating field: hefty slabs of chemistry, biochemistry and materials science, sautéed in equal parts tradition and innovation, with lashings of microbiology, a pinch of physics and a sprinkle of dietetics, all served on a hearty bed of engineering and topped with MSG. Delicious. The dedicated work of food scientists has not just made our meals better; they’ve made them weirder too. What better demonstration of this trend can there be than the creations of the eccentric Heston Blumenthal: snail porridge, ice-cream curry and meat fruit (Figure 1).
Unconventional foods have existed for millennia. For example, the people of Iceland have been fermenting sharks into a foul-smelling delicacy for centuries. This ammoniacal concoction is called “hákarl” which translates as “gullible tourist” in Icelandic.0 One can only imagine what the Vikings would have concocted if they’d had access to dry ice and ghost peppers. Now that the world can buy these things online, the number of ridiculous dishes has shot up.
This esteemed journal has hosted several forays into food science. In March, we reported a procedure for the preparation of an Amorphous Starch-Sucrose Organic Framework (ASS-OF) with ice-cream and strawberries.1 More recently, Don G. Boop and co-workers developed a protocol for the debutterification of overwhipped cream.2 Most notably, C. Goodenough has conducted the first total synthesis of a chocolate cookie with >99.99% purity.3 This purity comes at a cost of $30,031.70 in reagents.
Sodium: The new superfood
Numerous scientific reports have extolled the virtues of a diet containing metallic sodium. Na is an essential nutrient, and the FDA recommends consuming 2300 mg of Na per day.4 Metallic sodium is unsurprisingly rich in sodium, and as little as 2.3 g of this super-food will fill one’s daily requirement (Figure 2).
Sodium has more to offer than routine nutritional sustenance. Studies by the Oz group have noted a surge in the popularity of antioxidants, and the foodstuffs containing them, and it’s harder to find a stronger antioxidant than Na metal.5 With a standard reduction potential of E0 = -2.7 V, sodium can obliterate harmful Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) like HO•, O2– and H2O with a storm of electrons. Most other toxins and pollutants will also be reduced by metallic sodium: BPA, pesticide residues, PFAS, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and formaldehyde to name just a few. Experts have even called sodium a “detox in a jar”.6
The wonders of sodium metal don’t stop there. When sodium reaches the stomach, it reacts to generate two more physiologically useful species: alkali and H2. Alkaline diets have obtained widespread popularity as an efficient and accessible way to balance the pH of the body.7 Devotees of the alkaline diet recommend the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the exclusion of meat, dairy and grains. This is believed to raise the pH of the body, which is good for some as-yet-unspecified reason. In an article earlier this year, Professor V. Beckham of the Marie Claire Institute for Holistic Medicine defended the alkaline diet by explaining that homeopathy and homeostasis are two sides of the same coin.8 If raising the pH of the body is a desirable outcome, sodium metal is likely to be significantly faster-acting than kale and quinoa in this regard. This was demonstrated by A/Prof Krankspiegel’s landmark treatment of acid reflux with NaK in 2018.9
The health benefits of H2 gas have also received widespread attention, everywhere from health blogs to journals more prestigious than this one.10,11While hard scientific evidence to support these claims is rare, that hasn’t stopped retailers rushing out “hydrogen water” in multiple forms. One can even buy electrolytic water bottle which generate the bubbly good stuff on demand.12 Scientists can at least agree that consuming H2 only has the potential to be harmful if done in conjunction with smoking.13
Elemental hydrogen has a low solubility in water at STP, (0.16 mg per 100 mL) and H2-water retailers are prevented from pressurising their products beyond certain limits—lest they create splashy-hand-grenades. Thus, the practical administration of H2 gas to the average punter is challenging. We believe a sodium-chip cookie may offer a resolution to this issue, by generating H2 gas in-vivo. A single cookie could rapidly generate just over one litre of H2 gas, equivalent to 180 bottles of H2 infused water.
The astute reader may be wondering at this point: “if sodium metal is so great, why can’t I buy it at the supermarket?” This new superfood is handicapped by the same shortcoming as most of its predecessors (kale, for instance): it is completely unpalatable. Jamie Oliver has described it as “bitter, almost caustic, and with a weird, chewy texture”, while Julia Child recommended serving it with sugar and lemon, to counteract the taste. Gordon Ramsey simply said “it’s fucking awful”. Sodium metal can cause minor indigestion if consumed to excess, and can in some cases provoke a violent reaction.
The goal of this research is to design a strategy to make the administration of sodium metal palatable, so that its miraculous properties can be shared with the world.
The Compact Organic-Oligomer Karbohydrate Ingestion Enhancer (COOKIE) is a well-established nutritional vector for the administration of various dietary additives. A traditional formulation consists of a fused lipid-carbohydrate matrix cemented with a denatured-albumen binder, which is then doped with a course-grained “aggregate”. A one-pot Maillard reaction is used to cure the matrix. The nature of the aggregate is variable, with nuts, chocolate or other confectionaries being the most common (Figure 3). To the best of our knowledge, there have been no reports of COOKIEs with an alkali metal filling.14
We began our methodology development by adapting a literature procedure, in this case, the NIST’s “metric chocolate cookies recipe”.15 Mindful of C. Goodenough’s findings, we used only the finest and most pure ingredients.3 This quality does come at a considerable cost, but by a careful selection of suppliers and some subtle graft, we were able to reduce the cost of starting materials from $30,031.70 to $16,013.00. Some compromises had to be made, such as the use of technical-grade sucrose and home-laid eggs, but the resultant COOKIEs have retained a >98% standard of purity as measured by combustion analysis (vide infra).
Altering the standard procedure to incorporate elemental sodium proved to be relatively straightforward. We simply substituted sodium for the chopped pecans that were inexplicably included in the original method. This still constitutes a paradigm-shift in the world of COOKIEs, and not an incremental example of “methyl ethyl butyl futyl” (thanks for that, Reviewer 2. How about you increment yourself a better personality, fuckface?).16 Anyway, we conducted a kilogram-scale preparation of a COOKIE batter with ca 10% sodium metal content (see the experimental section for the full procedure). The most challenging aspect of this methodology was finding suitable conditions to anneal the COOKIEs without inducing a thermal runaway and causing over-reaction and decomposition. Our initial attempts with a direct heat-source suffered from such side-reactions (Figure 4).
As can be seen, a considerable degree of pyrolysis had occurred on the exterior of the spheroid, while significant unreacted starting material remained within the interior. Clearly, a gentle and more even heat source was required. Safety concerns precluded the use of a conventional oven or kiln, as the annealing process does release H2 gas. To heat such a reaction in a sealed metal container is an absurd notion and poses a severe risk to life and property. Only the intoxicated, the foolish or the stupid would propose such a reckless course of action.
Instead, we coated a cookie and thermite and blowtorched it (Figure 5).
We had hoped that the thermite might confer a delectably crunchy exterior, while providing sufficient thermal mass (in the form of molten iron) to thoroughly bake the biscuits. However, the fragments of cookie we recovered post-reaction suggested that this was not the case.
Slightly disheartened, we returned to the lab and commenced a search for cookie recipes on SciFinder. Halfway through this process, we observed steam rising from our reaction mixture. It transpired that the exothermic oxidation of sodium by air and adventitious moisture was sufficient for the cookies to bake themselves. This reaction can be accelerated by placing the cookies in a water bath, though care must be taken to avoid an uncontrolled exotherm/runaway (Figure 6).
At the conclusion of the reaction, the product can be collected by filtration. Drying the cookies under reduced pressure is essential to preserve their crunchy texture. We characterised the annealed cookies by Scattering X-Ray Diffraction Induction – Non-Gaussian (SEXDING). Strong Braggard-type diffraction bands were observed at 5870000 Å and 13900000 Å, which correspond to chunks of sodium and chocolate respectively. The narrower band at 978000 Å is an artefact derived from residual fragments of eggshell (Figure 7).
We have developed a procedure for the preparation of chocolate- and sodium-chip cookies. While not perfect, they do partially address the challenge of making sodium metal more palatable.
The experimental procedure for the preparation for the cookies is appended to this document. Further experimental details will be made available in video format via our YouTube channel in due course.
Notes and references
0 Monty Python’s Hungarian-Icelandic Phrasebook, ISSN 00742069.
1 “Preparation of an Amorphous Starch-Sucrose Organic Framework (ASS-OF) with Ice Cream and Strawberries”A. Seuss, G. Schlonk. 2022, J. Immat. Sci. 2, 26–27.
2 “Debuttering: Not With That Attitude” D. G. Boop, N. P. Stilles, C. S. Habor, 2022, J. Immat. Sci. 2, 58.
3 “Immaterials and Methods: Reagents for the Total Laboratory Synthesis of the Chocolate Cookie” 2022, J. Immat. Sci. 2, 61.
4 Actually, the FDA says “absolutely no more than 2300mg per day.
5 “The Insane Power of Blueberries” M. Oz et al, 2018, New Finland J. Med. 3, 7.
6 “Na is a detox in a jar” E. X. Burt, 2021, J. Fizzyology, 7, 23–40.
8 “Homeopathy and Homeostasis: what’s the difference really?” V. Beckham, 2020, J. Bull. Dust. 5638, 847683-847689.
9 “Unglaublichantisäurestoff” G. Krankspiegel, 2018, AICE, 6, 25.
11 “Hydrogen-rich water reduces inflammatory responses and prevents apoptosis of peripheral blood cells in healthy adults: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial” M. Sim et al. 2020, Sci. Rep. 10, 12130.
13 “Man blows off face: smoking and H2 water don’t mix.” Penury Bridge Times, 21/6/2022.
16 “Methyl Ethyl Butyl Futyl” G. Schlonk, 2021, J. Immat. Sci. 1, 7.