The blue liquid you see floating around inside the magic 8 Ball looks enticing, inviting, almost tempting. Sometimes, it may also look inviting for a quick sip – like a frizzy blue soda can. But, is the liquid inside a Magic 8 Ball toxic or safe to drink?
While some Magic 8 Ball packaging claim it to be safe- just colored water and oil, most of them, all the way back to the oldest original one, have a clear Caution Section on their packaging, “The liquid contains Isopropyl Alcohol and aniline Colorant Dye”. This liquid is toxic and isn’t meant to be drunk! This could have direr consequences as vomiting blue vomit or worse.
We definitely wouldn’t recommend drinking it, let alone handling the liquid without safety gloves on.
The exact percentage of alcohol to dye has not yet been revealed but the entire reservoir of liquid is usually about 100ml (3½ fl. oz.) inside the Plastic container.
What is the Liquid inside the Ball?
While it may seem like the Magic 8 Ball itself is filled with the blue liquid, it is actually inside a tightly sealed cylinder that is fixed inside the Ball. This is for obvious reasons – the liquid is not safe and since the ball is also child friendly, its designed in a way to avoid any spilling outside the shell – It can potentially be dangerous, toxic and stainable – especially with your clothes, sinks etc. Plus, any liquid with such a strong, murky smell cannot possible be edible.
The liquid inside the Magic 8 Ball is mostly Aniline Colorant Dye (Blue dye) with an alcohol (Isoporyl Alcohol) or water base. The exact percentage of alcohol to dye has not yet been revealed but the entire reservoir of liquid is usually about 100ml (3½ fl. oz.) inside the Plastic container.
By definition, Isopropyl alcohol is a colourless, flammable chemical compound with a strong odor. As an isopropyl group linked to a hydroxyl group, it is the simplest example of a secondary alcohol, where the alcohol carbon atom is attached to two other carbon atoms. Isoporyl Alcohol is often mixed with water for use as a rubbing-alcohol antiseptic and as a solvent in aftershave lotions, hand lotions, other topical ointments to help prevent bacterial infections from minor cuts or scrapes, and in healthcare settings to prevent infection that may be caused by needle punctures.
Isopropyl alcohol is also used as a topical rub to help relieve minor muscle pain.
However, when we studied the packaging of some of the ointments containing the chemical compound, it warned against taking by mouth, or using on open wounds, sunburnt, windburned, dry, chapped, or irritated skin and also to rinse with water if the product got into the eyes, nose, mouth, rectum, or vagina. They mostly also noted that Isopropyl alcohol was not to be considered a substitute for other types of alcohol and hence should not be drunk. As per medical journals, Isopropyl Alcohol can also cause allergic reactions in some people, such as hives, difficulty in breathing, swelling and a burning feeling on the face, lips, tongue, throat or internal organs if ingested.
Moreover, when used as a solvent, especially for oral application, it is mixed in a very specific chemical percentage, in a laboratory setting, to avoid any immediate reactions. The liquid in the Magic 8 Ball its majorly Isoporyl Alcohol with the aniline Colorant Dye – in an unknown chemical percentage, which makes it highly dangerous and risky. Moreover, Isoporyl Alcohol is also a flammable compound which makes it decidedly hazardous if released from its original container. Some studies also suggest the presence of Methanol which, if ingested, can make a person go blind.
We also did a research experiment to identify if the liquid in our Magic 8 Ball was really toxic. We poured it on some apple slices to see how it reacted with the fruit and observed them for 72 hours. All the slices turned brown since Apple oxidises when left open in air. But the slices with the blue dye were seen decaying more than the ones just left in open air. They turned a darker black and almost dehydrated to a decaying crumple.
While the experiment wasn’t in an enclosed scientific laboratory (or tested on humans), the results and all research safely suggest that the liquid is definitely toxic at some level. In any case, whether oil, water, alcohol or dye, our findings reveal that the liquid is more dangerous than we know, definitely toxic to drink and only safe within its sealed plastic container.
Reference 1 – Teacher Vision “Is the Magic 8-Ball Really Magic?”
Reference 2 – Britannica “Where Did the Idea for the Magic 8 Ball Come From?”
Reference 3 – The Attention Economy and How Media Works (pp.139-147) by Karen Nelson-Field
Reference 4 – So, Whats Inside of Magic 8 Ball?
Reference 5 – Drugs “Isopropyl alcohol (topical)”
Reference 6 – Britannica “Isopropyl Alcohol”
Figure 1 – Packaging for a Vintage Magic 8 Ball