Liquid nitrogen is a chemical used in industrial or medical purposes. The BBC explains that liquid nitrogen’s ability to “superfreeze” anything makes it useful as a coolant for computers and machinery (and in the medical field by freezing off warts). The chemical’s powerful properties make it dangerous if handled incorrectly.
According to The Guardian, more than 20 children have been injured after doing the “Dragon’s Breath Challenge,” in which participants eat a confectionary known as “chiki ngebul” that has been infused with liquid nitrogen. If someone were to eat the candies, they would be able to “breathe smoke,” thanks to the freezing vapor of the liquid nitrogen. Videos depict young people, ranging from teenagers to even toddlers, puffing the vapor after eating the candies. But upon ingesting the treats before the nitrogen evaporates, the extreme properties of the chemical could lead to severe chemical burns within the esophagus and stomach.
Liquid nitrogen has been used in the culinary world in cocktails, but in those cases, it’s handled by people with the proper knowledge on how to handle it safely. Even before the TikTok trend, the FDA issued warnings about eating liquid nitrogen in 2018, per USA Today.