It seems a waste of vodka

Somebody is angling for an Ig-Nobel, I think. Apparently, it’s a Danish myth that you can absorb alcohol through your feet, so soaking your feet in a tub of spirits is a way to get drunk (they also mention that soaking your feet in beet juice will make your urine red, but they didn’t test that one, unfortunately). So the hypothesis that one can get drunk through your feet was thoroughly tested.

The participants abstained from consuming alcohol 24 hours before the experiment. The evening before the experiment they rubbed their feet with a loofah to remove skin debris. On the day of the experiment, a baseline blood sample was taken through a venous line. The participants then submerged their feet in a washing-up bowl containing the contents of three 700 mL bottles of vodka (Karloff vodka; M R Štefánika, Cífer, Slovakia, 37.5% by volume). Before each blood sample was taken the venous catheter and cannula were flushed with saline by a trained study nurse. Plasma ethanol concentrations were determined every 30 minutes for three hours. Blood samples were taken to the laboratory for immediate analysis by the study nurse. Plasma ethanol concentrations, measured as soon as possible in case of rapid and potentially fatal increases, were determined using a photometric method, with a detection limit of 2.2 mmol/L (10 mg/100 mL, corresponding to 0.010% weight/volume). Participants simultaneously recorded intoxication related symptoms (self confidence, urge to speak, and number of spontaneous hugs) on an arbitrary scale from 0 to 10.

The results: it didn’t work. Blood alcohol levels didn’t even rise to testable levels, and no one felt an urge to start hugging.

I’m sure you’re all disappointed now. If you’re disappointed because we don’t know what happened to the 2100 mL of vodka after the experiment, you should be worried about your possible alcoholism.

The authors left several questions open.

Many questions are still to be answered in the research specialty of alcohol transport across non-gastrointestinal barriers. This study has shown that feet are impenetrable to the alcohol component of Karloff vodka. Other stronger beverages, beetroot juice, or combinations of juices and alcoholic beverages may, however, cross the epithelial barrier of the skin. Moreover, new pastimes, such as “eyeball drinking,” have emerged. The significance of this activity is unknown. Rumour has it that it makes you drunk fast . . . and may damage your eyes.

Wait. Eyeball…drinking? What’s up with those Danes?