The salt and ice challenge meme that’s sweeping YouTube, like the cinnamon challenge before it, is enticing tweens and teens to engage in the Jackass-style shenanigans — but the the clips that have the most views don’t depict the lingering pain and potential scarring that can result.
The salt and ice challenge is more of a long-term effect thing than the cinnamon challenge trend, in which YouTube dopes try to consume an “impossible” amount of cinnamon, usually spluttering it all back at the camera to the delight of giggling internet viewers. Similar challenges to consume a gallon of milk result in subject failure to complete the task, but neither of those “challenges” are associated with direct injury.
The salt and ice challenge, however, is notably more risky due to the fact that worst effects of the dare come after filming, and one boy in Pittsburgh was injured when a friend and his twin brother used him as a guinea pig for the stunt.
It goes like this — the salt and ice challenge subject applies salt and then ice to their skin, to create a burn of sorts on their flesh. In the case of the boy in Pittsburgh, the ice numbed the child sufficiently so that the resultant effect was not as painful as it should have been and a severe burn resulted.
Dr. Ariel Aballay, director of the West Penn Hospital Burn Center, said at a Friday conference about the salt and ice challenge trend:
“The injury is similar to frostbite that can result in mild cold injury but it also could increase in severity based on the time the ice is applied … This patient went for a few minutes, but there have been cases that went for six or seven minutes that resulted in third-degree injuries.”
In a statement, the boy’s family said of the salt and ice challenge:
“Videos on YouTube, Facebook and other social media do not accurately show the terrible injuries that can result … We are grateful that our son is recovering and hope that sharing his story will stop other young people from attempting this stunt.”
Below is a clip of the salt and ice challenge, one of many kids can find on YouTube.