Cigarette Butts – scientists find use for them.

Cigarette Butts – scientists find use for them.

Ever ride around town and see the billboards with the picture of the Cigarette Butt fairie?  The ad states, if you think there’s a cigarette butt fairie that goes around picking up cigarette butts, think again.

I’ve come to traffic lights and while waiting for the light to change, I’ve noticed the tons of cigarette butts lining the side of the road.  I’ve always thought, if I could come up with a use for them, I would be rich.

Well, as usual, I waited too long.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the scientists in China said they identified nine chemicals after immersing cigarette butts in water.

Chemical extracts from cigarette butts — so toxic they kill fish — can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting, the Chinese study has found.  According to the paper, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. Apart from being an eyesore, they contain toxins that can kill fish.

The scientist applied the extracts from the butts to N80, a type of steel used in oil pipes, and found that they protected the steel from rusting.

“The metal surface can be protected and the iron atom’s further dissolution can be prevented,” they wrote. The chemicals, including nicotine, appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect, they added.

China, which has 300 million smokers, is the world’s largest smoking nation and it consumes a third of the world’s cigarettes. Nearly 60 percent of men in China smoke, puffing an average of 15 cigarettes per day.