Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Death by Spitwad

Dear Matt:

Is my paper-chewing habit killing me? For years I've been tearing off fingernail-sized bits from legal pads, computer paper, note cards, paper napkins, and an occasional Reader movie review, chewing them into paper wads (elapsed time: 30 seconds), and spitting them out. I gnaw from 5 to 50 wads per day, depending on stress levels. Although I try to avoid nibbling colored papers and inked areas, I suspect that the pure paper I choose is loaded with dioxins and other poisons. I'd like to give up the habit, so spare no lurid detail.

JS, San Diego

With encouragement like that, how can I resist? Unfortunately, paper is a lot less life-threatening than you imagine. Recent studies have shown that Reader movie reviews are packed with manganese and riboflavin. In therapeutic doses, they've been known to cure certain disorders of taste and judgment. But I'll do what I can to instill in you the fear of nibbling, all the while being grateful I don't sit at the desk next to you.

Here's a rundown of some of the chemicals used in the pulping and bleaching processes that turn wood chips into a pale slurry of wood fibers: sulfur dioxide gas, sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfide, and chlorine dioxide. In general, these are very caustic, and inhaling or ingesting any of them in pure form would be the quickest permanent solution to your paper-chewing habit. But these chemicals are washed out of the pulp before it is dried and made into sheets. Only tiny amounts, if any, would remain in the finished product.

But once the tree has been reduced to a mass of sopping shreds, papermakers do add things that help produce an acceptable body and bright finish, and these remain in the paper. What they add depends on the paper's end use. The list includes titanium dioxide and zinc sulfide (white pigments), barium sulfate (the stuff you drink when you have an upper GI x-ray), rosin (a turpentine byproduct), alum, clay, calcium carbonate (lime), and casein or other water-based adhesive. Toxinwise, a relatively wimpy collection.

If paper makes up a substantial part of your diet, you'd be better off gnawing on the cheapest grade you can find - lumpy, soft newsprint sold as inexpensive drawing paper, or cheap paper towels and toilet paper, matchbooks, undyed construction paper, and cheap cardboard. These might be considered the granola of papers, not heavily refined and containing a larger percentage of water-processed ground wood pulp. High fiber, low toxicity, and with a little milk and sugar, a real taste treat. Avoid that expensive, high-rag-content bond stationery, though. Eat that stuff and you'll be chewing on somebody's worn-out shirt or dress. Rag bonds are made from just that, shredded cotton salvaged from discarded clothes too funky to resell or from otherwise useless remnants sold by cotton mills.

That's about all the aversion therapy I can offer, J. Given the wide variety of 12-step programs, though, I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a convenient meeting of Spitwads Anonymous.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Between the Buried & Me Livestream Concert, S P A C E Artist Showcase, Outdoor Showing of Young Frankenstein

Events August 6-August 8, 2020
Next Article

If sci-fi glam really makes a comeback, UNI will rule them all

Big changes for little band may put them at the head of the class of 2020

Dear Matt:

Is my paper-chewing habit killing me? For years I've been tearing off fingernail-sized bits from legal pads, computer paper, note cards, paper napkins, and an occasional Reader movie review, chewing them into paper wads (elapsed time: 30 seconds), and spitting them out. I gnaw from 5 to 50 wads per day, depending on stress levels. Although I try to avoid nibbling colored papers and inked areas, I suspect that the pure paper I choose is loaded with dioxins and other poisons. I'd like to give up the habit, so spare no lurid detail.

JS, San Diego

With encouragement like that, how can I resist? Unfortunately, paper is a lot less life-threatening than you imagine. Recent studies have shown that Reader movie reviews are packed with manganese and riboflavin. In therapeutic doses, they've been known to cure certain disorders of taste and judgment. But I'll do what I can to instill in you the fear of nibbling, all the while being grateful I don't sit at the desk next to you.

Here's a rundown of some of the chemicals used in the pulping and bleaching processes that turn wood chips into a pale slurry of wood fibers: sulfur dioxide gas, sodium hydroxide, sodium sulfide, and chlorine dioxide. In general, these are very caustic, and inhaling or ingesting any of them in pure form would be the quickest permanent solution to your paper-chewing habit. But these chemicals are washed out of the pulp before it is dried and made into sheets. Only tiny amounts, if any, would remain in the finished product.

But once the tree has been reduced to a mass of sopping shreds, papermakers do add things that help produce an acceptable body and bright finish, and these remain in the paper. What they add depends on the paper's end use. The list includes titanium dioxide and zinc sulfide (white pigments), barium sulfate (the stuff you drink when you have an upper GI x-ray), rosin (a turpentine byproduct), alum, clay, calcium carbonate (lime), and casein or other water-based adhesive. Toxinwise, a relatively wimpy collection.

If paper makes up a substantial part of your diet, you'd be better off gnawing on the cheapest grade you can find - lumpy, soft newsprint sold as inexpensive drawing paper, or cheap paper towels and toilet paper, matchbooks, undyed construction paper, and cheap cardboard. These might be considered the granola of papers, not heavily refined and containing a larger percentage of water-processed ground wood pulp. High fiber, low toxicity, and with a little milk and sugar, a real taste treat. Avoid that expensive, high-rag-content bond stationery, though. Eat that stuff and you'll be chewing on somebody's worn-out shirt or dress. Rag bonds are made from just that, shredded cotton salvaged from discarded clothes too funky to resell or from otherwise useless remnants sold by cotton mills.

That's about all the aversion therapy I can offer, J. Given the wide variety of 12-step programs, though, I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a convenient meeting of Spitwads Anonymous.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Will San Diego survive a fall without classical music?

Just as symphony, Mainly Mozart, La Jolla Music Society were getting stronger
Next Article

More palm greasers’ help wanted

Tom Sudberry, Peter Cooper give to Barbara Bry
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close