Viral 'ice and salt challenge' sends teenagers to hospital

TAMPA, Fla. — Internet videos depict a disturbing new challenge that is landing some teenagers in the hospital.

The "ice and salt challenge" involves sprinkling salt on one's arm and then resting an ice cube atop of the salt to see how long a person can keep it there.

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The challenge causes a chemical reaction that sends temperatures plunging to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, WFTS reported.

"At first, it will burn," Hillsborough County Fire Marshal Tammy Zurla said. "But then it gets so cold it mimics the same thing as frost bite."

Zurla said it can lead to large welts and permanent damage.

"Second- and third-degree burns," she said. "That's bad news. Again, [it causes] lasting damage -- nerve damage."

University of South Florida chemistry professor Jhon Figueroa said the fast temperature change is no game.

"This change in temperature can go very quickly," he said. "[In] less than 30 seconds, you can go from 0 Celsius to minus 14."

The temperature of the ice cubes used for the challenge is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the salt is added, the temperature drops more than 25 degrees, WFTS reported.

"This is not a game," Figueroa said. "You will get burned."

WFTS contributed to this report.