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Spend any amount of time online and you’ll eventually come across mention of a fart pad. Not to be confused with a fart cushion or whoopee cushion, fart pads are soft inserts made of charcoal that are intended to be slipped into one’s underwear. When the wearer emits a noxious toot, the charcoal in the pad is supposed to absorb the smell and presumably keep your marriage or social function intact. But do they work? Science actually has an answer. A 2005 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology examined products that “purported to minimize problems with odoriferous rectal gas.” Researchers “objectively evaluated the ability of these devices to adsorb two malodorous, sulfide gases (hydrogen sulfide and methylmercaptan) instilled at the anus.” In other words: they tested fart pads. The method was pretty clever. Six brave volunteers had the two sulfide gases delivered into their anuses and then wore “gas impermeable Mylar pantaloons,” or special fart science pants, over their normal clothes to keep it all in place. Scientists also placed hydrogen in the anus because it can’t be adsorbed by charcoal.

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