Viral experiment says flammable instant coffee contains gunpowder, food monitoring agency calls hoax

Photo: Flickr

Does instant coffee powder burn when you set it on fire? Indeed it does, but an experiment involving setting the caffeinated convenience product aflame has been trending on social media over the past few days in Indonesia due to its not-so-scientific conclusion that the reason it’s flammable is because it contains trace amounts of gunpowder.

Much like your ordinary social media challenge (though without a catchy hashtag, it seems), several Indonesian netizens recently posted videos of themselves pouring a particular brand of Indonesian instant coffee over a small fire, causing a brief combustion. To them, there’s no other reason why that would happen other than the aforementioned gunpowder theory, since they say gunpowder burns the same way.

Others, including mainstream media, conducted their own experiments and found that pretty much all instant coffee brands are flammable.

But Indonesia’s Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) says the gunpowder theory is just hot air. Through a post on their official Instagram page, BPOM says that instant coffee is flammable because, well, it consists of small, dry granules.

BPOM says many other fine ingredients around the home are also flammable, including flour, pepper, chili powder and even powdered milk. They assured the public that these ingredients, as well as instant coffee, are perfectly safe for consumption as long as they have been certified by the agency.

So, there you have it. There is no harm in consuming instant coffee other than it being an affront to good taste and real coffee.

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