What We Learned From The MythBusters’ “Breaking Bad” Episode

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman got together with Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul to test a few things. Here’s what we now know.

1. We learned that this is what happens when you leave common bathroom materials in hydroflouric acid.

Not a whole lot. Of the ceramic, steel, wood, cast iron, drywall, and meat (of pig) left to soak for eight hours, only the last three showed sign of serious damage.

2. So the likelihood that Jesse’s bathtub full of acid could have dissolved the organic matter, tub, floor, and ceiling is very small.

3. Fiberglass, however, reacts like this.

So if you have a fiberglass bathtub, as opposed to one made of cast iron, the acid could (theoretically) eat through it.

4. But to recreate the scene in the show, the team had to use sulfuric acid (not hydroflouric) AND a “special sauce” accelerant.

In the interest of seeing results, Adam and Jamie used a mix of chemicals better suited to the task of dissolving flesh. They poured 24 gallons of nearly pure sulfuric acid, which is used to make hydroflouric acid, on top of the pig, and then 12 gallons of “special sauce.” The sauce remains a secret because, in Jamie’s words, the MythBusters are “not exactly in the business of disposing bodies.”

Oh, and pigs make good human substitutes for these kinds of things.

5. In the end, though, this is all that happened. Which is still pretty gross.

See that black sludge? That used to be a pig. But even in a fiberglass tub, the pig sludge did not come crashing through the floor.

6. Sorry, Vince.

7. But this could really happen, right?!

In Season 1, Walt throws crystalized mercury fulminate on the floor of meth dealer Tuco’s hideout, which blows out the windows but leaves Walt able to walk away.

8. Well, to start… mercury fulminate looks less like crystal meth and more like this.

That is, according to a chemical expert consulted on the show named Jesse, who works in a trailer and is really good at making illicit chemical compounds.

(“Would you say that’s life imitating art?” Vince Gilligan mused.)

9. But it can still do this to a pumpkin.

Why a pumpkin? Why not a pumpkin?

10. So the team built a replica of Tuco’s hideaway, complete with “Tuco.”

And some henchmen dummies, not pictured. For the show to be accurate, the mercury fulminate would need to blow out the windows without yielding lethal force for the people inside. The team used blast sensors to determine the strength of explosion.

11. But the amount of mercury fulminate needed to break the windows had this effect on the building.

An explosion with just 5 grams of the compound (Walt used 50) was strong enough to prove fatal — but the windows were left untouched. 250 grams produced the explosion seen here.

12. The 250 grams of compound used was even so dangerous that it had to be set in an explosion-proof box and driven carefully to the site.

No one jokes around with mercury.

13. *Sigh.* You win, MythBusters.

14. Until next time.

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