TikTok is a wonderful tool to learn interesting things about the world around us, but not all sources are made equal. If you’re on ‘healthtok’, you may have come across snippets of people cutting open fish oil gels in order to pour the liquid onto Styrofoam and record it “melting”.
Many of these creators then go on to question the safety of fish oil in the human body, suggesting that there is a correlation between the way fish oil reacts in the body and the way fish oil reacts with Styrofoam. While it may sound intriguing, this assertion carries potential risks. Let's dive into why this myth is misleading and why spreading false information about health products is hazardous.
The Fishy Tale
The idea that fish oil can melt Styrofoam likely stems from a misunderstanding of chemical interactions. Styrofoam, a type of expanded polystyrene, is a synthetic material that has a complex molecular structure. On the other hand, fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are natural compounds found in various foods, notably fatty fish.
The myth might have gained traction due to the misconception that since fish oil is a supplement, it must contain dangerous additives that have solvent properties. Others may see the video and believe that the fish oil is dangerously acidic and corrosive, which also is false.
In reality, it is important to make the distinction between how fish oil reacts in the human body versus a synthetic material. These processes are fundamentally different, and the chemical reactions required to melt Styrofoam are far more complex than what they appear to be.
So, what is really going on?
Not all that meets the eye is what it seems. As explained by experts at askthescientists.com, “Differences in polarity explain many chemical interactions. In general, similar compounds will mix together and opposites will separate. In the chemistry world, it is known as the “like dissolves like” rule.
It explains why oil (nonpolar) separates from water (polar), yet salt (polar) dissolves in water. Or how fingernail polish remover (nonpolar), removes fingernail polish (nonpolar) from nails. It is also why oil “dissolves” Styrofoam. Both are nonpolar compounds”.
To simplify things, due to their chemical properties, fish oil and Styrofoam interact with each other in a unique way. Unless your stomach lining and esophagus are made of Styrofoam, you have nothing to worry about.
The notion that fish oil can melt our internal organs like styrofoam is a classic example of how misinformation on the internet can take hold and spread. While it might seem harmless, the dangers of false information are real and can lead to wasteful practices, unsafe behaviors, and a general erosion of trust in important health products. If you have concerns about your fish oil supplement, be sure to pick a reliable brand and reach out to customer support for more information. As consumers of social media, let's remain vigilant, seek out credible sources, and do our part to combat the spread of misinformation, ensuring a brighter and more informed future for all.
Side note: The omega-3 fish oil used in Coromega’s products is of the highest quality: it is molecularly distilled to pharmaceutical grade, and then formulated through emulsification to be highly bioavailable. Coromega emulsion does not affect Styrofoam due to the emulsion format of our products.