Top 25 Deadliest Substances in the World You Should Never Touch

deadliest substances in the world

We have seen these things, perhaps in the movies, or somewhere around us. It might be triggering for some people as they might have already interacted with one of these substances to some effect. These top 25 deadliest substances in the world are a no joke. User discretion advised.

1- Manchineel Tree

Manchineel Tree - deadliest substances in the world

If you came to this list looking for poison ivy stats, well, you’ve got another thing coming. The Manchineel tree upon first glance looks pretty normal. In fact, it looks almost inviting and welcoming. The tropical tree grows the low hanging fruit and it can be found most commonly in the Caribbean, Central America and South Florida. So if you live there, um, don’t touch this tree. And for sure don’t eat the fruit also, if you’re hungry, just wait till lunch. In fact, don’t touch this tree at all. Don’t even breathe in the air around this tree for real. it’s that bad.

Manchineel tree fruit is referred to as the beach Apple or the ‘manzanilla de la muerte‘, which translates to Little Apple of Death. The plant is riddled with toxins even if you put this apple in your mouth and spat it out the inside your mouth would still be blistered and your throat as well. It’s not comfortable. The tree contains this chemical called phorbol. It is so poisonous that if you were to stand under the tree while it was raining to avoid frizz, the water rolling off the tree would burn your skin on contact. So if you’re a tree hugger, skip this one. This tops the list of deadliest substances in the world, at least the ones that don’t look deadly.

2- Hogweed – Deadliest substances in the World

Hogweed - Poisonous substance

No! Harry Potter does not smoke this, in fact, he doesn’t even touch it. Abundantly found in Europe and some parts of the US. . They grow up to 14 feet sometimes so they look pretty threatening before you get close. Its leaves can stretch out quite far with an umbrella pattern. It’s a poisoned disc with purple and white hairs. Now it’s sap contains these toxic chemicals called ‘furanocoumarins’.

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This plant can turn you into a vampire, basically, the if you come in contact with this chemical and then be exposed to sunlight, your skin will start burning. On top of that if the SAP gets in your eyes, well, you may become blind. There’s quite a few look alike to the toxic giant hogweed. But again, like I said, just avoid plants that you are not aware off.

3- Snake Toxin

snake venom

Fun fact, did you guys know there’s over 600 species of venomous snakes? So yeah, watch your step I guess. Now I’ll admit the ratio isn’t too bad. less than 10% of all snakes can really hurt us. But that small percentage, well, it’s enough to wipe out 100,000 people a year so still pretty bad. You might have heard of the Eastern brown snake, these are just you know horrible creatures. What is it about their venom that does so much damage in the first place? Well, snake venom is extremely complicated. The way we test its toxicity is by using the LD 50 test and the lower the rating the more dangerous the toxins are.

Alongside the Eastern brown snake the Tiger Snake and the Russell Viper come in pretty low on the LD 50 tests. Boomslang is another venomous snake. It avoids confrontation, looks pretty similar to non lethal snakes, but after one bite, you will eternally bleed until you’re dead. Snakes are surely one of the deadliest substances in the world.

4- Cyanide


This one can harm you both in gas form and in powder form. Cyanide of course can kill you in just minutes. Potassium Cyanide can take your life in minutes if it’s consumed, but it’s confusing what cyanide really does to your body especially when we weigh in James Bond villains like inspector in the the movie Spectre. This character pulls out these big teeth to show that his mouth was burned horribly after trying to swallow hydrogen cyanide. The gas actually starts to replace the Oxygen (O₂) in your bloodstream. Which makes it harmful to your brain and your heart

5- VX Nerve Agent

Amber like color nerve agent can kill you in minutes, in fact, it was used to take out Kim Jong Nam back in 2017. He was attacked in an airport where two people rubbed a cloth on his face covered in VX and he died on the way to the hospital. He had a horrible seizure because of this. Officials thought that Cyanide was used but in reality it was only 10 milligrams of VX. t

6- Ricin – One of the Deadliest substances in the World

ricin - deadliest substances in the world

It looks alarmingly similar to table salt and an extremely small amount of this can kill you. They also come from Castor beans but unlike toxic plants, you aren’t going to run into any ricin in the wild. There’s also more steps that need to be done before you accidentally poison yourself in mere minutes once consumed. Ricin enters your cells, and then it prevents them from making the proteins that they need. Subsequently, you die.

So depending on if you inhale it ingested or injected, the results may vary. And by results, I mean it depends how long it’ll take before you meet your; you know, Georgie Markoff, Want to know more? He got taken out by ricin attack. It was in 1978. He was waiting for a bus and a man and a black umbrella with either an air gun disguised as an umbrella. He shot his right thigh and it wasn’t until three days later that the police found him dead in his apartment.

7- Arsenic

the deadly poison that supposedly took out George the Third of England and Napoleon Bonaparte. what is arsenic and why have we heard this name so many times before? it’s incredibly toxic in it’s inorganic form, but arsenic is a natural component in the ground so it causes contaminated water, air, anything really just goes out of the ground, which leads to arsenic poisoning. So most of the time you develop skin cancer because of it.

That is its main attack, skin cancer, horrible! Arsenic has an LD 50 of around 13 milligrams. The agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has arsenic on its priority list of hazardous substances. It’s a top dog up there. Surely one of the deadliest substances in the world.

8- Poison Oak – Poison Ivy – Poison Sumac

Poison Oak - Poison Ivy - Poison Sumac

I remember in elementary school there’s a kid in my class who rubbed poison oak on his face because it was soft. This is why we’re doing a list on deadly substances for people like him. I have to mention Poison Oak, Ivy, Sumac because I think we should genuinely know that this is so much worse. There’s another one called poison sumac. Now, these plants produce a harmful oil called Uroshiol Oil and the rash that follows after you make contact is called contact dermatitis. See like Ricin it only takes a small amount to cause a huge rash. Poison Ivy is known for its leaves, each one has three tip leaves.

9- The Kissing Bug – Vampire Bug

The Kissing Bug

Now I know it sounds friendly, maybe a little to family. But this bug is not a lover at all. The small kissy boy carries with it a plethora of diseases, one of which is called the Chagas disease also known as Triatoma. These little guys are known to suck blood out of humans like vampires. They usually bite you near the mouth or the eyes. this area here it carries a Trypanosoma parasite and it passes to you after the bug poops on your face. That’s the main way of spreading the parasite they bite you then they fart in your eyes. How rude is that! They should call this one the stinkbug, because that stinks.

10- Super acid

Yes super acid of course! If you have been a fan of Sci Fi movies where a liquid burns through, basically, everything. That’s real. The Antimonic acid can actually melt a whole ship down. Antimonic is made by mixing hydrogen fluoride and antimony pentafluoride. Hot combo. This acid can only be mixed with hydrochloric acid because it’s too strong to be mixed with water. It would just go boom, burning through everything. It is 20 quintillion times stronger than sulfuric acid. Fait to be called one of the deadliest substances in the world.

This can not only dissolve your skin tissues and muscle, but it can dissolve bones too. The reason we have acids that strong in the first place is that so chemists can break down molecules. Now some of these molecules are tougher. They resist common acids. This is where the super acid comes in handy. Just make sure you never touch that thing, ever.

11-  Deadly Nightshade

Yes, another name that gets right to the punch right away. The Deadly Nightshade aka Atropa Belladonna is another poisonous plant that Macbeth’s soldier used to poison their enemies. The thing that makes Deadly Nightshade so commonly known is the sweetness of the berries. Have you ever been outside and you see a berry and like 90% of you just for some reason wants to eat that Berry. That’s normal. It’s called being a human. That’s a good thing to have but these berries? Well, they would kill you. The deadly nightshade can be found in Europe, Asia and Africa and it grows purple flowers and groups of three along with those inviting purple berries.

Just two to four of these berries can take a human life. Ingesting the flower can also poison you right away. Interesting fact is that animals such as horses, sheep and rabbits can eat these flowers without being poisoned.

12- Jimson Weed

Sounds like the name of a nice small town dude. This white or violet flower looks pretty harmless and it grows up to five feet tall so it too catches your eye. This plant can cause hallucinations, seizures, breathing problems, and your heart will speed up like crazy, instantly. It’s named after Jamestown Weed because back in 1676 British soldiers got too close and hallucinated for 11 days straight. It was reported that they grinned like monkeys and kissed each other. This grows in southern Ontario.

13 – Cinnabar

This natural mercuric sulfide has been used in Chinese mineral medicine for over 2000 years. Its bright red appearance cause people to use it as jewelry. It is a flashy but a toxic mineral. Cinnabar is one of these few minerals that were found independently and then processed and used in the ancient world. So long as you lived in a country with an active volcano you could find cinnabar. It would be ground up into fine powder sometimes and then mixed with liquids to create paint patterns. It was once used in ancient cosmetics, but of course that didn’t last long as the title hints towards it was quite toxic on the face.

14 – Hooded Pitohui

I bet you didn’t expect a bird to be on this list. The Hooded Pitohui sounds so mysterious. These little guys have an orange red chest with a dark black head. They’re beautiful birds that are found mainly on the islands of New Guinea. Its feathers are covered in a neurotoxin called homobatrachotoxin. If this bird landed on your shoulder and started to whistle tunes in your ear. Sure you’re going to feel like a Disney princess for a bit but eventually those toxins will start to cause numbness. While this isn’t too bad on humans. Other animals bite the bullet pretty quickly. These birds are taking bats and radioactive puddles. Their neurotoxins come from the beetles that they eat.

15- Asbestos – Deadliest substances in the World

A natural mineral made up of thin fibers. Its primary use was for fireproofing and its origins and use date back to the first century. It was used as an insulator and due to its fibers being so fine and heat resistant. It can be added to cement paper or cloth in order to make them more durable. It’s fibers are so fine that you can breathe it in and then after that you’re susceptible to lung cancer. It’s a rare type of lung cancer specifically due to asbestos inhalation. It’s called mesothelioma. More than 39,000 Americans lose their lives a year because of asbestos related diseases making it one of the deadliest substances in the world.

16- Torbernite – the mineral from hell

A green radioactive rock that contains uranium and naturally releases radon. So if you’re admiring the space rock, you better do so from the other side of an airtight transparent container. Breathing in this rock means you’re breathing and hydrated green copper phosphate and all things leading again to lung cancer. If you’re into gems, maybe leave the Time Stone at home. There’s a reason they call this the mineral from hell.

17- Rosary Pea

Want more berries?. Unlike the deadly nightshade berries, it looks like a ladybug. It is all red with a black spot on top and looks like something the devil would offer you. Eating just one of these peas can cause instant death. The rosary pea has been the culprit in many jewelry makers deaths. This pea was often used as a bead due to its mesmerizing natural colors. But what happened is while they were poking a hole through this tiny piece, sometimes the needle would slip and poke a finger or two. Normally this is just another day for somebody into arts and crafts but the poison went into their bloodstream and well, that’s a wrap.

So, if you are not sure about something, just don’t eat it. Just walk away. Don’t even touch it. Don’t sniff random bushes. Don’t look at any weird rocks. Don’t eat any strange berries, please!

18 – Comb Sea Stars

Ocean life is by far the scariest thing out there. We have no idea what’s in our oceans to this day. Explorers discover some crazy fish every year. Some deep sea fish with bioluminescence that are for sure aliens, while others are natural predators. Like the comb sea star for example, a starfish that contains taro toxin, this deadly neurotoxin that can cause you paralysis. The fish has enough toxin to take out 500 mice. We also do not have an antidote for that quite yet. This is what makes it one of the deadliest substances in the world. Swim in fear.

19- Polonium

This radioactive metalloid is extremely rare. So unless you’re Homer Simpson, I don’t think you’ll be seeing any glowing substance anytime soon. Which is great. polonium is used primarily as a heat source on an atomic level, it glows bright blue because it’s so strong that it excites the air molecules surrounding it. See, unlike acid the particles and polonium don’t have enough power to actually get through your skin. But it’s still radioactive, which is bad news. It bears one gram of polonium produces the same amount of radiation as five kilograms of radium. Polonium is 250,000 times more toxic than Cyanide. Only one gram can take out 10 million people. A real life use of this element was against the former spy Alexander Litvinenko, just a trace amount was slipped into his tea. He passed away after suffering for 23 days.

20 – Lake Acid

Lake Acid

The lake of acid is located in Ethiopia. It is also referred to as gateway to hell. The depression is made up of boiling hot ponds that release chlorine and sulfur gases into the air. So you don’t even have to take a dip. Just standing around this lake can instantly kill you. Remote but still one of the deadliest substances in the world.

21 – Cactus

These pointy plants are no laughing matter. Among all kinds, the most deadly is the saguaro cactus that grows up to an intimidating 50 feet tall. So unless you live in Arizona or California, you don’t have to worry about bumping into Spike Jones over here. These needles are of course massive, but what really sucks is the toxic sap that enters your bloodstream. So if you’re handling this cactus for some reason, you need to use gloves. There’s also a cactus that straight up jumps at you like it moves.

22 – Yew, Ground Hemlock

Despite how they look, these are not berries. They’re evil. They’re poison. They’re dangerous. Ground Hemlock contain a toxin named Taxol. It is commonly used in chemotherapy. Right now we’re at the point where we’re making these in a lab because their populations haven’t exactly sprung back in action. We kind of need them right now. If you ingest Taxol, you’re minutes away from having a bad night, either, Hypothermia, seizures, respiratory failure, you might actually go into a coma, it’s really not good at all in any sense. Stay away from it. It only takes half a gram of these flat pointy needles to kill you. Surely one of the deadliest substances in the world.

23- Holly

There’s nothing holly and jolly about these berries. The common red berry is the American Holly. It’s a tasty treat for birds, but like a lot of us probably don’t realize is our feathery friends can eat poison pellets all day long and never skip a whistle. If we ingest a holly berry, we’re welcoming in an alarming amount of toxins. You’re also ingesting ilosone which is a straight path to vomiting, nausea and all that nasty stuff.

25 – Golden Frogs

One of the world’s deadliest substances comes from the cutest amphibian frogs. Don’t let his little wet hands and tiny smile fool you. This guy is nothing but trouble, or rather the alkaloid on their skin is. So if you’re catching frogs on the weekend, in forests of Colombia, leave the golden frogs alone. The frog has toxins that interfere with your sodium ion levels and your nerves resulting in your heart failing. We mentioned that LD 50 scale before that’s the lethal dose table and it tells you which toxins are worse than others. On this scale, just 2 micrograms, which is literarily just 2 grains of salt, is enough to kill a human being.

So, this is it one the list of deadliest substances in the world.


Umer Atiq
IT Consultant and business analyst. Keeps an interest in the affair that impact business or society.