The Thunder Down Under: 40 Fabulously Funny Facts About Farts

Flickr Steven Depolo
Flickr Steven Depolo

1. The average human being farts 14 times a day.

How many times they do it in front of others will determine exactly how “human”—actually, “inhumane”—they are. (source)

2. You fart enough every day to fill a balloon.

The average human toots about 700ml of flatus daily—enough to blow up a birthday balloon! (source)

3. What exactly is a fart?

Flatulence—which occurs in nearly all living organisms—is a mixture of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and in some cases, methane. These gases are produced as the byproduct of the trillions of bacteria that break down food during the digestive process. (source)

4. Can farts be measured?

Yes, indeed, they can—using a “rectal catheter,” researchers are able to shove a tube up a patient’s poop chute to determine the volume of gas that is produced during the sacred act of farting. (source)

5. The speed of farts.

Farts exit the anus and enter the world at a speed of 10 feet per second, or slightly less than seven miles per hour. (source)

6. What the hell is that smell?

Truth be told, only 1% or less of the gas in your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill fart has any odor whatsoever. The main culprit is hydrogen sulfide, which generates those rancid “rotten egg” notes that make farts the bane of the world’s nostrils. (source)

7. Women’s farts smell worse than men’s.

Sure, there’s a certain breed of male idiot who thinks it’s funny to fart in front of others, and to be fair, women don’t tend to be afflicted with that special strain of sadism. But before they start getting all high and mighty, they should realize that female farts have a higher hydrogen sulfide concentration than male ones and thus, fart-for-fart, they’re smellier than dude farts. (source)

8. A fart by any other name would smell as stinky.

The word “fart” is considered a “vulgarism” and—just like farting itself—is not recommended for use in polite company. The polite noun is “flatus,” even though almost no one uses it. The word “fart” is said to have been coined in 1632 and defined as “to send forth wind from the anus.” I’m not sure where “wind” comes into this because I’ve never smelled wind that makes me want to vomit. But “fart” is derived from the Old English word “feortan,” which means “to break wind.” (source)

9. Farting among the ancients.

Roman Emperor Claudius declared that “all Roman citizens should be allowed to pass gas whenever necessary,” which is an ancient variant of the modern maxim, “Wherever you be, let the wind blow free.” The ancient Japanese were said to have held “farting contests” to see who could break wind the loudest and longest. The Greek physician Hippocrates decreed that “Passing gas is necessary to well-being.” (source1) (source2)

10. The oldest one-liner in recorded history is a fart joke.

Professor Paul McDonald of the University of Wolverhampton tags a Sumerian joke from 1900 BC as the world’s oldest recorded one-liner. The joke:

Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.

11. Farts are sprinkled throughout literary history.

Despite our modern revulsion for human flatulence—it is a topic so unspeakable, it may qualify as a form of pornography—literary masters of antiquity suffered no such hangups. Literary luminaries who mentioned farting include William Shakespeare (flatulence is mentioned five times in his plays), Jonathan Swift (who penned a 1722 essay titled “The Benefit of Farting Explain’d”), Geoffrey Chaucer (whose Canterbury Tales include a line about a man who “let fly a fart as loud as it had been a thunder-clap”), Dante Alighieri (whose Inferno mentions a demon who used “his ass as a trumpet”), and Founding Father Ben Franklin, who wrote a whole essay titled “Fart Proudly.” (source1) (source2)

12. Hitler had terrible gas.

Adolf Hitler, chronic farter. (Wikimedia Commons)
Adolf Hitler, chronic farter. (Wikimedia Commons)

Not only was the infamous Nazi dictator a speed freak, he also suffered from hepatitis and gastrointestinal cramps, which led to a condition of chronic flatulence for which he took 28 different medications. It is almost certain that no one complained to Hitler about the smell. (source)

13. May I interest you in a “reduced-flatulence, legume-based snack food”?

A food engineer named Massoud Kazemzadeh obtained a patent in 2001 for “reduced-flatulence, legume-based snack foods” which purportedly contained a bean’s nutrition without any of the unpleasant bloating. (source)

14. OK, then how about some fart-suppressing underwear?

A manufacturer known as Shreddies produces underwear featuring “charcoal-lined pads” designed to lessen the offensiveness of your wanton wind-breaking. (source)

15. There are pills that can make your farts smell like chocolate or roses—take your pick.

A Frenchman named Christian Poincheval became disgusted at a dinner party with friends: “Our farts were so smelly we were nearly suffocated. Something had to be done.” Rather than whine, the proactive, fart-fighting inventor developed a pill that renders human flatulence as sweet as roses or as seductive as chocolate. And he now sells them online! (source)

16. All right, if you won’t eat the reduced-flatulence snack food, wear the fart-suppressing underwear, and take the scented fart pills, how about natural herbal remedies?

If you’d prefer to go all “hippie” to confront your gas problem, natural, earth-borne substances that diminish the brunt force of flatulence include peppermint, ginger, yogurt, pumpkin, cardamom, and fennel. (source)

17. It’s uncomfortably easy to fart on airplanes.

Due to cabin pressure, more intestinal gas builds up while on an airplane than when one’s feet are firmly planted on terra firma. What’s worse, the fact that 50% of cabin air is recirculated means that those stinkers will linger longer than normal. (source)

18. On the other hand, it’s impossible to fart in the deep blue sea.

Underwater pressure at depths of 33 or more feet below sea level digestive gas ceases to form bubbles and instead festers inside the scuba diver’s colon. (source)

19. Members of a South American tribe greet one another by farting.

The Yanomami tribe who inhabit the Amazonian rain forest traditionally greet one another with a loud, friendly blast of anal gas. (source)

20. There are people who fart for a living. They’re known as “flatulists.”

Le Pétomane. (Wikimedia Commons)
Le Pétomane. (Wikimedia Commons)

A legendary French performer known as “Le Pétomane”—which roughly translates as “Fartomaniac”—dazzled audiences at Le Moulin Rouge by using his anus to emulate “sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms” as well as playing songs on “an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus.” (source)

More recently a masked British gent who goes by the handle “Mr. Methane” has wowed audiences with his ability to break wind at will:

21. Yes, you disgusting idiot, you can light them on fire.

Is there a more annoying breed of “party dude” than that one moron who gets shitfaced and then proceeds to light his farts on fire? Of course not! Both methane and hydrogen are flammable—so flammable, in fact, that a shed crammed with 90 farting cows caught fire on a German dairy farm in 2014. But lighting your farts on fire during a party is so cute and funny, one prays that the prankster doesn’t, you know, accidentally light themselves on fire—not! (source1) (source2)

22. Inhaling farts can be healthy.

According to researchers at Exeter University, sniffing tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide—the precise gas that makes farts stink—can reverse mitochondrial damage and help avert strokes, dementia, cancer, and heart attacks. (source)

23. The reason why your own farts don’t smell as bad to you as everyone else’s.

It’s the same reason that you don’t realize your house stinks of your own dog or that you can’t smell the rotting hamburger meat that’s been stuck behind your refrigerator for two months—because you’ve become used to it. One becomes “habituated” to the stinks and odors and aromas that one’s own body generates and is thus not as immediately offended as one would be by the stench of others. (source)

24. Farting among the dead.

For up to three hours after death and before rigor mortis sets in, dead human bodies have been known to continue burping and farting. (source)

25. Tighter anus = louder farts.

If you tend to emit farts that are as loud as a Metallica concert, this only means that you don’t have a wide-open, sloppy anus that would let you rip ’em much more silently. So go ahead and be embarrassed that you fart so loudly, but also take some pride in the fact that your anus is tight. (source)

26. “Professional Fart Smeller” is a job in China.

These smart fellers make up to $50,000 a year by diagnosing digestive illnesses merely through the scent of the patient’s flatulence. (source)

27. Dogs love the smell of farts.

Although you probably blame Man’s Best Friend when you fart in front of company, your dog will never blame you for farting—that’s because they adore the aroma of flatulence and will even poke their snout in your ass to get a better whiff. (source)

28. Termites are the biggest farters on Earth.

Those disgusting little wood-chewing insects are said to be responsible for a whopping 11 percent of all methane emissions on the planet—more than even cows or humans—even vegetarians! According to the EPA:

Global emissions of methane due to termites are estimated to be between 2 and 22 Tg per year, making them the second largest natural source of methane emissions. Methane is produced in termites as part of their normal digestive process, and the amount generated varies among different species.

Termite “soldiers” are also able to explode themselves like suicide bombers with a combination of farts and feces in a process called “autothysis.” Scientists have even discovered prehistoric fossilized termite farts trapped in amber. (source1) (source2) (source3)

29. Some beetles fart to attract mates.

No, I’m not talking about John, Paul, George, and Ringo—I refer instead to the female Southern Pine Beetle, who rips pheromone-laden farts to attract male suitors. (source)

30. Herring communicate by farting.

The gentle and tasty marine creature known as the humble herring communicates with other herring through the noises generated by underwater farting. (source)

31. There’s a marine creature that farts into its own mouth.

Pity the poor Crinoid, AKA “Sea Lily.” Its intestinal tract is U-shaped, which means that its flatulence is released right near its own mouth. (source)

32. How many farts would it take to make an atomic bomb?

Apparently there are people with so much time on their hands, they sit around estimating such potentialities. One estimate is that a person would have to fart nonstop for six years and nine months to generate the energy of one atomic bomb. Or everyone on Earth would have to rip nine farts simultaneously to make a hydrogen bomb. (source1) (source2)

33. Some people have a “fart fetish.”

Even though most people recoil at the very mention of the word “fart,” there’s a small subset of humans who are supremely sexually aroused by flatulence. The fetish is called “eproctophilia.” (source)

34. The worst foods for farting.

Actually, these are the “best” fart foods if your goal is to fart more: cruciferous vegetables, eggs, red meat, foods containing sorbitol, high-fiber foods, dairy products, garlic, and foods high in yeast. Beans are notorious for producing flatulence, but they don’t tend to generate that sulfurous stink that repels discriminating nostrils. (source)

35. Nearly half of all women have farted during sex.

According to a study at the University of California San Francisco-East Bay, 43% of women surveyed reported that they’d experienced “flatal incontinence” within the previous three months, although this did not deter them from having sex. (source)

36. The fabulous rubber farting toy.

Flickr Steven Depolo
Flickr Steven Depolo

In one form or another, gag toys designed to emulate farting sounds have been around since the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t until 1920 that the whoopee cushion was invented to engender mirth and laughter amid those who always think farts are hysterical rather than repulsive. (source)

37. The disturbing proliferation of farting apps.

Because humans continue to regress even as technology progresses, there are at least 60 apps for the iPhone which recreate the sound of human flatulence.

38. Flatulence as a defense mechanism.

A psychoanalyst published a case study in 1996 about a boy who’d been abandoned by his parents and learned to “envelop himself in a protective cloud of familiarity” by fending off would-be intruders with the smell of his intestinal gas. The researcher referred to this as “defensive flatulence.” (source)

39. Explosions during intestinal surgery.

The annals (anals?) of science include a few cases in which the build-up of intestinal gases during surgery actually led to explosions in the operating room. (source)

40. There are hundreds of other terms for “fart.”

Such euphemisms include “thunder down under,” “trouser cough,” “rectal honk,” and “colonic calliope.” A full list of fart euphemisms can be found here. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Lorenzo Jensen III

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