Self-Combusting Pistachios

The German Transport Information Service warns about the possibility of pistachios self-combusting:

Fat decomposition in pistachio nuts leads to the risk of self-heating and, ultimately, to a cargo fire.

Fat decomposition may proceed as follows:

by hydrolytic/enzymatic fat cleavage or
by oxidative fat cleavage

Hydrolytic/enzymatic fat cleavage:

If the critical water content of the pistachio nuts is exceeded, this promotes hydrolytic/enzymatic fat cleavage. Fat-cleaving enzymes are activated by the elevated water content. The additional action of light and heat may accelerate this process. Free fatty acids sometimes have an unpleasant odor and taste. In the event of extended storage or improper cargo care, these cause the cargo to become rancid.

The free fatty acids formed are consumed by respiration processes in the pistachio nuts to form carbon dioxide and water, a process which is associated with considerable evolution of heat.

Self-heating of pistachio nuts is an extremely vigorous process, as the consumption of fatty acids by respiration processes is associated with a considerably greater evolution of heat than is the case with the respiration equation for carbohydrates. Here too, as with cereals, the spoilage process proceeds in a type of chain reaction, because heat and water are formed by the fatty acids consumed by respiration, which in turn contribute to an intensification of the process.

This shouldn't be a problem for any pistachios you've got at home, unless you're storing A LOT of them.

via Dave Barry
     Posted By: Alex - Tue Feb 13, 2024
     Category: Food | Firefighting, Arson, Wildfires, Infernos and Other Conflagrations


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