When TikTok trends turn dangerous: Most controversial trends that went viral on TikTok

Georgina Smith
Nyquil chicken trend next to a lighter and the TikTok logo

Even though most trends on TikTok are fun and entertaining, sometimes they cross the line to dangerous.

While most trends on TikTok include people choreographing viral dances and trying out bizarre new filters, sometimes certain trends can get a little out of hand, leading to terrifying consequences.

From eating weird things to playing with traffic, you never know what might come next.

TikTok has taken action to prevent these trends from spreading and removed hashtags that can help them grow. That being said, here are some of the most dangerous TikTok trends.

Note: We strongly advise against attempting any of the below challenges.

Eating laundry products

Perhaps the most known, dangerous trend from TikTok is people eating Tide pods. The trend, which began in 2017, saw people get hospitalized and eight people were reported having died from taking part in the trend.

In 2023, a new trend shocked health workers as people started eating Borax, a powder laundry detergent, as a way to ease the symptoms of arthritis, lupus, or other health issues.

Borax TikTok trend

Soon thereafter, a video featuring @chem.thug, a chemist working on his Ph.D. in organic chemistry, has gone viral with over 1.8 million viewers hearing him explain why eating Borax is a very bad idea.

“Don’t eat sh*t out of the f*cking laundry box, people,” he implored. “This is patently dangerous.”


In March 2023, a 13-year-old girl in Australia from chemical exposure while at a sleepover. She was taking part in a new TikTok trend called ‘chroming’ as she sniffed an aerosol deodorant.

Although Chroming isn’t a new thing, with the word referring to the act of inhaling the fumes from a toxic source, such as an aerosol can, a spray deodorant, or a paint container, TikTok made the act spread all across TikTok and introducing a new generation to it.

On TikTok, users engaging in ‘chroming’ post videos under the term ‘WhipTok’, a slang term for the recreational use of nitrous oxide. ‘Whiptok’ has over 546.3 million views on the platform.

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Chroming involves inhaling toxic substances to create a temporary high. It gives a temporary high, similar to the effects of alcohol.

Angel of Death Challenge

In June 2022, Insider reported that at least two people had died in Indonesia as a result of participating in the ‘Angel of Death’ challenge.

The trend involved teenagers jumping in front of moving trucks, with the hopes that the driver would stop before hitting the individual participating, or swerving the vehicle.

TikTok angel of death challenge
The Angel of Death challenge has proven to be deadly.

On the same day that an 18-year-old in Tangerang died as a result of attempting the challenge, local police reported that they detained as many as 14 minors who were suspected of trying to attempt similar dangerous acts.

Beauty and makeup is a focal point of thousands of videos across TikTok, and users have gone viral in the past for sharing their favorite tanning methods and techniques. However, skincare experts have warned users against trying a number of different TikTok tanning hacks.

In July 2023, people on TikTok were seen pouring beer all over their bodies as a “cheap way” to tan faster. Some have used both beer and sunscreen, while others don’t use any sunscreen at all.

However, experts were quick to call out this trend as dangerous, with one skin expert saying: “If you were to replace using sunscreen for a can of holiday beer, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to the sun’s exposure with no protection. Doing this can leave you at an increased risk of sunburn, heatstroke, or even sun poisoning in severe cases.”

Last summer, a viral tanning technique showed users mixing water and moisturizer in a bottle, and spraying it on their skin throughout the day to supposedly help improve their tan.

TikToker trying sunbathing hack
This tanning hack garnered millions of views on TikTok.

However, experts at JustMyLook explained: “We strongly advise against undertaking this hack. Not only is the process unsafe, but exposure to the sun in this way with no protection can severely increase the risk of sunburn which can lead to melanoma (skin cancer).

Blackout Challenge

There have been several recorded deaths of children including a 10-year-old girl in 2021 as a result of the viral Blackout Challenge, which encourages users to hold their breath or choke themselves to the point of losing consciousness.

The trend has been around for some time, before TikTok, but saw a noticeable resurgence in popularity on the app, much to the concern of parents.

The mother of the ten-year-old girl who died after attempting the challenge warned: “Make sure you check your kids’ phones. Just pay attention because you never know what you might find on their phones, or the things they’re trying that you think 10-year-olds wouldn’t try. They’re trying because they’re kids and they don’t know better.”

In 2008, the CDC shared warning signs that a child may be participating in the “choking game” that included, “bloodshot eyes,” “marks on the neck,” and “severe headaches.”

NyQuil Chicken

TikTok has had plenty of recipes go viral on the app over the years, but this one wasn’t like any other. In a ‘recipe’ that appeared to first originate on Twitter, TikTok users were braising chicken in nighttime cold medicine NyQuil to make so-called ‘Sleepy Chicken.’

Although several of the videos appeared to actually be satirical, doctors still warned against trying the peculiar dish, with Richmond-based physician Aaron Hartmon telling MIC: “When you cook cough medicine like NyQuil, you boil off the water and alcohol in it, leaving the chicken saturated with a super concentrated amount of drugs in the meat.”

Viral sleepy chicken or 'NyQuil Chicken' on TikTok
Experts warned against trying this bizarre ‘Sleepy Chicken’ recipe.

He added that, “inhaled, these medicines also enter your bloodstream really quickly and are not going past your liver for detoxification. The effects can be quite bad depending on how much you inhale.”

Fire Mirror Challenge

Back in 2021, a 13-year-old girl ended up in the ICU with third-degree burns after she attempted perhaps one of the most dangerous challenges the app has seen.

The Fire Mirror challenge involved participants spraying shapes on their mirror with a flammable liquid and then setting fire to it.

TikTok logo over some fire
TikTok has been the source of several dangerous trends involving fire.

Firefighter Rob Garrison from Portland Fire and Rescue said: “This is maybe one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen anybody do in my life,” adding, “you could be standing next to a lake if you want and light yourself on fire, and by the time you hit the water, you’re probably going to have burns on your body.”

Attempts to search ‘Fire Mirror Challenge’ on TikTok now result only in a link to an info page labeled “learn how to recognize harmful challenges and hoaxes.”

Milk Crate Challenge

In August 2021, TikTok began removing videos of people attempting the ‘Milk Crate Challenge’ after medical professionals warned against trying it.

The trend, which was also hugely popular on Twitter, involve stacking a mountain of milk crates, and attempting to ascend and descend the unstable structure without falling.

Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Shawn Anthony told the Today Show that wounds that could occur as a result of people attempting the challenge included: “Broken wrists, shoulder dislocations, ACL and meniscus tears, as well as life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries.”

TikTok also condemned the challenge, and told Newsweek: “TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off.”

In light of the criticism toward harmful trends on the site, TikTok has taken steps to prevent dangerous content in their new guidelines which they revealed in 2022, targeting “dangerous acts and challenges,” “eating disorders,” and “hateful ideologies.”

The above challenges are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dangerous trends on TikTok, and it’s only a matter of time before the next worrying challenge makes an appearance on the app.