Sorry, folks. It turns out you can't get drunk by submerging your feet in alcohol. The belief is widespread in Denmark, where, apparently, there's not much to do during those long winter nights but experiment with different, and frankly bizarre, ways of inviting alcohol into your pores. But according to research in the December issue of the British Medical Journal, there's really no point to stomping around in vats of alcohol — unless you're making wine, of course.
The study was led by Dr. Peter Lommer Kristensen from Denmark's Hillerød Hospital, who recruited three adult volunteers to participate. They were screened to make sure they didn't have any alcohol-related diseases or addictions and had not been involved in any "serious accidents" or "socially embarrassing events" related to drinking in the week — yes, a full seven days — prior to the study. They call that "good behavior" in a land of Viking descendants.
The volunteers abstained from alcohol for 24 hours and provided a blood sample to prove they weren't intoxicated heading into the experiment. Then it was time to get down to business. Large bowls were filled with three bottles of Karloff vodka apiece and the volunteers sunk their feet in. For three hours, they remained standing in the vodka, getting their blood sampled every half an hour.
Afterward, the study participants assessed themselves on a 10-point scale for signs of drunkenness, from self-confidence to the urge to talk and on to whether they desired to give and receive "spontaneous hugs." (We've waited a long time for hugs to make it into an academic study — thank you, Danes.) There was, however, no increase of alcohol in the volunteers' bloodstreams.
According to the researchers, there are real implications arising from the study. For instance, their work proves brewery workers can't become intoxicated by plunging into a vat of beer (damn). The paper ends with perhaps the most pertinent observation: "Importantly, students experimenting with transcutaneous alcohol absorption should move on to more relevant activities."