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Does chloroform work in real life like it does in the Tintin books?

NikkiRoux
Member
#1 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 01:44
Tintin gets chloroformed many times during the series, sometimes even by accident. One could say it is his most formidable foe. Not only am I curious as to whether some of the scenes involving chloroform should be believable (such as the one in Black Island), but I'm also wondering how chloroform works in real life.

For example, how does chloroform make you faint? Could it knock a person out as easily as it does Tintin in many of the books, and does it do that by making you feel very sleepy? Does it really give off a sweet smell and could you build up a resistance to it? And how long does it take to recover from getting chloroformed and would it make you feel ill and give you uncomfortable after-effects like nausea once you've woken up?

I would prefer facts, but speculation and opinions would be interesting too.
rodney
Member
#2 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 02:31
Interesting question, I've also wondered this myself!
Without knowing the correct answer I would guess that there would be side effects upon waking up.
I'm guessing you would be slightly disorientated, possible headache and slightly nauseous..
I'm sure you would be quite tired and sleepy!..
skater95
Member
#3 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 02:52
Don't quote me on this, but I think I heard somewhere that too much exposure to it can lead to longterm damage overall. So Tintin better watch out!
mct16
Member
#4 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 13:11
Chloroform has been used as an anaesthetic. I read somewhere that Queen Victoria used chloroform while giving birth to one of her children since it eased the pain.

Here is an interesting article on its medical use - simple enough for laymen like me.

However, according to an article on the criminal use of chloroform, its use by robbers and kidnappers is more legend than fact. It requires a certain amount of expertise in order to get the right dose to knock out a victim without doing considerable damage to his health or even killing him. Also, even for an expert anaesthetist working in a hospital, it can take up to five minutes to actually render a patient unconscious using chloroform.

Thus, if you tried to use it in order to rob someone, chances are that the victim will be able to fight back long before the chloroform has had any effect.

There have been cases of doctors being accused of using the stuff in order to commit sexual assault, but apparently it was very difficult to prove in court that chloroform was actually used.

The scene in "Black Island" may be possible: without doing the research I'm assuming that a large amount of chloroform from a bottle combined with the heat of the burning house could have knocked Tintin out.

On the other hand, the scenes in "Unicorn" in which Sakharine and Tintin are put to sleep by chloroform are unlikely.
tintinsgf
Member
#5 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 15:17
mct16:
The scene in "Black Island" may be possible: without doing the research I'm assuming that a large amount of chloroform from a bottle combined with the heat of the burning house could have knocked Tintin out.

I think it is the concentration. I got what you mean by amount, but for better clarity I'd suggest you use this word. Amount could become a dubious word, especially when you talk about chemicals.

mct16:
On the other hand, the scenes in "Unicorn" in which Sakharine and Tintin are put to sleep by chloroform are unlikely.

I don't think it's that unlikely. It's just possible, though just little volume is used, when the concentration is high enough to put them into sleep. Say, were these thugs clumsy enough in dosage, the chloroform could be just enough to get them into the sleep. (but considering that high-concentration chloroform wasn't sold freely, I think this comment gets its point.)
mct16
Member
#6 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 16:14
tintinsgf:
I don't think it's that unlikely. It's just possible, though just little volume is used, when the concentration is high enough to put them into sleep.

I just get the impression from reading the articles mentioned above that a small dose would not be enough to knock a man out instantly - as in the case of Tintin in "Unicorn". It would take some time, almost five minutes.

When it comes to criminal usage, chloroform is just seen as not a very effective weapon compared to say a cosh, like the one used on Tintin on board ship in "Crab with the Golden Claws".
Star Child
Member
#7 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 16:39
*Gulp* I hope not! I did not really think it would work, but maybe if you got different types of chloroform, the strongest would probably be used on people.
tintinsgf
Member
#8 · Posted: 9 Mar 2012 17:07 · Edited by: tintinsgf
mct16
Well, we never know... until we try. But no, I am not serious with my last sentence. No matter how ineffective chloroform might be seem, you'd better stay away of it.

Anyway, this might interest you. It's more than a century old, but perhaps could give you some insight of the possibility of the usage. And anyway, when I read the article mct linked, chloroform is actually used and preferred for it gave quicker anesthetic effect compared to ether (though now other anesthesia is used for chloroform is anticipated as a human carcinogen - something that can give human cancer).

And I've checked wikipedia, and it shows that 10 mL (14.8 gram) is actually enough for you to have a death due to respiratory or cardiac arrest.

And speaking of knocking man out with any kind of poison (whatever it could be - arsenic, chloroform, anything), it might never give quicker results than knocking out the man physically (like, for instance, by cosh). Poison (yes, any poison) takes time to react in the body, and depending on the man's immune system, the time the poison takes to react might vary for each man. While 10 mL of chloroform can give you death, it still takes time for reacting in your body.

Star Child:
but maybe if you got different types of chloroform, the strongest would probably be used on people.

If you are a thug who works with Mueller (who happened to have an access to high-concentrated chloroform), you might think the same. But like other high-concentrated chemicals, if you are a lone thug you definitely won't have any access to it (remember that it is very expensive and only sold to some consumers with specific needs - scientific, laboratory and industrial use).

I hope this post is clear enough to understand, if not, I am so sorry. *face palm*
Star Child
Member
#9 · Posted: 10 Mar 2012 05:13
Good point.

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