When I was a little kid (read: inexperienced), a friend of mine claimed (as his mother warned him) that putting metallic things into an electrical outlet is dangerous. Kids are curious. In order to believe in the claim, I had to insert knitting needles into a typical USSR electrical outlet with two holes and without ground (Type C – CEE 7/16 Europlug).
I think we had the following mains electricity:
- Residential voltage 220V
- Three-Phase voltage 400V
- Frequency 50 Hz
The knitting needles looked like the image below: two metallic needles connected with a plastic tube. The length of the tube was about 0.5 meters (1.5 feet).
I felt how the current flowed through my arms and chest and I quickly removed the needles from the outlet. I felt "energized" (I assume it was just an adrenaline rush). During this dangerous experiment, the plastic tube burned right in the middle of its length.
Up to this day, I don't know the answer to the following question:
Why the plastic tube connecting the metallic needles burned right in the middle? I assume the plastic tube had zero conductivity.
Additionally, how come the little kid survived? Did the current split between two paths: hand-chest-hand and needle-tube-needle?
Please be an adult and respect others when answering.