The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 136: Mini Myth Mayhem

Premier Date: December 28, 2009

A person can wet his hand and briefly dip it into molten lead without injury.


Adam and Jamie did some research on the Leidenfrost effect, in which cool water vaporizing on a very hot surface generates a layer of vapor that temporarily insulates against high temperature. They melted some lead in a crucible and heated it to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, then dipped a raw, wet sausage; it emerged partially cooked and with some particles of lead adhering to it. After they raised the temperature to 850 degrees Fahrenheit, the sausage could be dipped and removed unscathed, since the lead was now hot enough not to solidify on contact. Finally, Adam and Jamie dipped their own fingers into the liquid – a pinky and an index for Jamie, four fingers at once for Adam – and brought them out unscathed.

It is possible to make a usable candle out of earwax.


The Build Team collected wax from Tory’s ears and ignited it alongside paraffin and beeswax, two common materials used for candles. The earwax burned with some sparking and sputtering, whereupon the entire MythBusters crew and other volunteers were called in to provide more wax. When the team made this into a candle and lit it alongside a paraffin candle, the earwax candle burned very poorly and soon went out. They attributed this result to the fact that the material did not melt smoothly as did the paraffin, which could then easily travel up the wick to burn in the flame.

(This myth is based on a scene in the movie Shrek.)

Dipping a sleeping person’s hand in a bowl of warm water will cause him to “wet the bed” (urinate involuntarily).


At the California Center for Sleep Disorders, Adam and Jamie set up a bed with a moisture-sensitive alarm. Each took a turn as a test subject, with the other ready to place the sleeper’s hand in the water once he had achieved a deep enough sleep. Jamie never reached that point, while Adam kept waking up due to his sleep apnea and ended up with his hands in an awkward position. Jamie was only able to pour the water over Adam’s hand, which soon woke him up without triggering the alarm. Crew member Matt Cordova was brought in for a third trial; five minutes after his hand was placed in the water, the alarm went off, but this was due only to water spilling out of the bowl.

It is possible to create impromptu gunpowder and use it to effectively fire a cannon made from a bamboo stalk.


Grant and Tory collected the ingredients for gunpowder and began to mix them by hand in various ratios, testing them against industrial powder to find the best formulation. Meanwhile, Jessi bored out a thick bamboo stalk to use as a cannon barrel, which the Build Team wrapped with ropes to duplicate the episode more closely. They set up the cannon, with a Gorn target in front and Buster at the breech, and loaded it with ammunition and homemade powder. When they set the cannon off, the powder only burned without exploding; they achieved the same result with an actual cannon and the same powder. When they loaded the bamboo cannon with industrial powder and set it off, the resulting explosion destroyed the barrel and wrecked Buster, but the Gorn was undamaged. Finally, they built a second barrel out of bamboo, reinforced it, and fired it with the same charge, injuring Buster far worse than the Gorn and leading the team to declare the myth busted.

(This myth is based on the Star Trek episode Arena.)

A whole coconut can be sent by mail (USPS) without any packaging and arrive at its destination intact.


Adam and Jamie addressed a coconut to themselves, stamped it, and put it in the mail. It later came back to the M5 workshop with no visible damage.

A strike-anywhere match can be lit by a bullet fired from a gun.


Adam and Jamie set up a .45 caliber pistol and aimed it at a match head. After several shots that either missed the match or destroyed the head entirely, they were able to make the bullet lightly graze the match head and ignite it. They commented on the high degree of accuracy needed to make this shot.