Why Does My Poop Steam?

February 15, 2024

When it comes to pooping, most people don’t think twice about the color, consistency or smell of their feces. But those deviations from the norm can tell you a lot about what’s happening inside your squishy internal Rube Goldberg machine as it turns food into poop.

Stool can come in a variety of colors, but earth tones like brown and yellow are considered normal and healthy. “They’re a mix of digested food, broken down bits of dead red blood cells, and bile—an enzyme that helps break down fats,” gastroenterologist Justin Sewell tells me. “If your poop gets browner or greener, it could mean you’re eating more greens.”

And while a little poop smell is normal (your bathroom is practically covered in shit particles all the time), when the odor seems especially pungent, that’s usually cause for concern. Foul-smelling poop can indicate issues in your digestive tract, including inflammation, a bacterial infection or pancreatic issues like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

But it’s what you see when pooping that can be the most unsettling. Steaming poop is when you see faint fumes coming off your feces as they leave your body at about 98.6 degrees and enter the colder air of the toilet bowl. That abrupt temperature change creates the steam, making your pooping experience a little less hygienic. But even so, the fumes aren’t dangerous and you don’t need to worry about them unless they last for an extended period of time.


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