The Most Expensive Liquid In The World Is Scorpion Venom. Here’s Why. » TwistedSifter

The Most Expensive Liquid In The World Is Scorpion Venom. Here’s Why. » TwistedSifter

No, the most expensive liquid in the world is not some expensive alcohol.

It’s scorpion venom.

All scorpion venom is worth some money, and if you’ve got the right size and the right kind, the value could actually stretch into the multimillions of dollars. It’s needed for scientific research, for medical research, for educational purposes, and also for treating people who have been stung.


Scorpion venom comes from a gland at the end of the tail, and research indicates that, the smaller the scorpion, the more likely it is to have seriously painful and/or deadly venom.

For example, the Israeli gold scorpion is much larger than the South African thick-tailed scorpion, but the latter has venom that’s 10x stronger.

According to evolutionary biologist Dr. Arie van der Meijden, making and storing venom takes up a lot of energy.

“Scorpions have to raise their metabolism enormously to produce venom. For them, it’s like running a marathon. It takes a lot of effort to make it, but then they never use quite so much.”

His research indicates that like most poisonous animals, scorpions would rather keep their venom to themselves.


“We did a study a few years ago where we jut poked the scorpion and made it angry so it would inject venom into a vial. They tend to use maybe 3 to 5 percent of their venom per sting, which means they can sting many times. But that was in a scenario where you’re just annoying it from above. So, for instance, I’ve been stung by a scorpion several times and I’m never worried about it being dangerous because if the scorpion is free to move it’s just telling me to go away by using a very small amount of venom.”

That said, if you’re crushing one by say, rolling onto of it, they will use everything they have in an attempt to save itself.

In 2021, der Meijden and his team established a non-lethal method for studying scorpion venom. This also allowed them to look at the genes involved in creating the venom, and lets them fully empty the gland in the process.

Aside from not being needlessly cruel, keeping the scorpion alive enables scientists to study it, perhaps one day identifying the roles played by diet, season, and other factors as far as venom production.

Scorpion venom is rich in proteins, peptides, and molecular compounds that can manipulate ion channels in the body. This ability is thought to be useful in things like epilepsy drugs, treating autoimmune diseases, and many more.


According to der Meijden, though, don’t expect collecting it to make you rich.

“I am always puzzled by this big story about scorpion venom being so expensive. I have lots of it. I should be a millionaire, but I am not. And that’s because yes, it’s very expensive to buy…but scorpion venom itself has to be really high quality, and you have to be able to refine it to get the particular components out in quite a pure way, which is even more expensive. And then there is a tiny market.”

Researchers might buy a few hundred micrograms of venom for a hefty $200, but they only need to purchase that amount once a year.

Also, there are plenty of well-meaning folks out there willing to donate venom for scientific research purposes.

The idea that you can make a profit off milking scorpions is harming the species, which have existed in relative peace for more than 430 million years. They’re now threatened by people capturing them for profit or to keep them as pets, says doctoral candidate Alireza Zamani.


“Interest towards scorpion venom has unfortunately led to the situation where enormous amounts of scorpions are collected from nature. For example, a claim was spread in social media in Iran that scorpion venom costs 10 million dollars per litre. As the situation escalated, illegal scorpion farms were established in the country and tens of thousands of scorpions were collected into these farms. Simultaneously, businesses devoted to training people in captive husbandry and rearing, marketing, and bulk distribution of live scorpions began to flourish. As a result, many species are quickly becoming endangered.”

In the end, while scorpion venom is probably the most costly items by weight that money can buy, there’s not much of a market for it, so go ahead and leave the creepy crawlers to their business.

Live and let live wins again.

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