Banana Welding

As I prepared my breakfast this morning, I noticed that my bananas were ripening and gaining the traditional dark freckles. This process is quite interesting (apologies to Stephen Fry) and a banana can be used to ripen other fruit, tomatoes being the classic example. Ripeness is transmitted from fruit-to-fruit (OK, strictly speaking, from herb to fruit) through the emission of the gas ethyne (which may be known to older readers as acetylene).

Acetylene (in conjunction with oxygen) is famously used for welding and cutting – and I found myself wondering how many bananas I would need to perform a basic weld.

Thinking further, and recognising the rather explosive nature of ethyne, I began to worry about the safety of my fruit bowl. On a larger scale, if a banana boat were delayed in transit such that its contents began to ripen would there be a risk of it being blown to kingdom come? Are banana warehouse workers required to avoid sparks or naked flames?

The explosion risk from custard powder is well known. I’m now starting to think that banana custard could be the world’s most dangerous dessert. I can’t understand why this hasn’t been front page news in the Daily Mail – middle England has the right to be terrified.


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