# Touch my cap but not my stem

Here goes the riddle:

I am fragile

and in many colors do I come,

You can touch my cap

But if you touch my stem

Unfriendly air will you meet.

What am I $$?$$

HINT 1

I am a non-living thing

HINT 2

I am an everyday object

• Is this a kind of flower or fungi? I ask because if so it could be all manner of deadly flower or fungi that releases spores, like deathcap etc. Mar 8, 2018 at 0:40
• @James Hmm I believe that if it was the name of a flower it would have the knowledge tag, but I'm not sure. Mar 8, 2018 at 5:15
• Any number of electronic components could fit this description. "Capacitor" comes to mind, since they're often referred to as "caps", and store a potentially dangerous charge. Mar 8, 2018 at 12:54
• Is it strange that you got more answers than votes? Mar 10, 2018 at 3:40
• @Chowzen yup,it is strange Mar 10, 2018 at 4:19

I think you are a(n):

incandescent bulb (common light bulb)

Clues + explanations:

I am fragile

Light bulbs are fragile.

and in many colors do I come,

Light bulbs can have many different colors!

You can touch my cap

You can touch a light bulb's "cap" (which is the glass housing around the bulb).

But if you touch my stem

The "stem" of the bulb is inside it. This is key for the next clue!

Unfriendly air will you meet.

Thanks to @Quentin, we know that this clue has to do with the inability of Noble Gases to form bonds. Argon (a Noble Gas) is a common gas found inside light bulbs, so if you're touching the stem, you're gonna meet a Noble Gas. Probably not for long, though, if the cap is off. :)

HINT 1

I am a non-living thing

Light bulbs are not alive.

HINT 2

I am an everyday object

You find them everywhere!

• very good explanations Mar 8, 2018 at 16:06
• @crayon, yeah, except for the last one. incandescent bulbs aren't everywhere anymore (at least in the US). However, note that mercury vapor in compact fluorescent bulbs is also unfriendly, but in a different way :)
– NH.
Mar 8, 2018 at 20:06
• Ok I enjoyed this but feel somewhat dissatisfied with the unfriendly air bit. Unfriendly gas would have been more entertaining and more accurate. As it stands the air aspect of the clue is slightly distracting and my gut says it doesn't quite sit. Am I being pedantic? Mar 8, 2018 at 22:26
• I agree that the “air” bit is a little far-fetched. To your point, I also think the “touch the stem” part is kinda out there, too. If I’m touching the stem, it must mean that the cap is off and the gas has already escaped. But that’s my interpretation—it would appear that OP is from India and English may not be their first language. I believe the key to solving (and, might I add, enjoying) any puzzle is to understand the intent of the author. Some grace may be required. :) Mar 8, 2018 at 23:29
• Re the air bit, if you want to debate fully, by the time the gas has been dispersed and reached you ("you will meet") it has mixed with air and the mixture is possibly a higher percentage air than the gas released. Had the clue instead specified (e.g.) "bad air will be released" then it would have been misleading. As "you will meet" is open to vast interpretation I think it's fine in the specific context. I even at one point analysed the potential specifics of "meet". Great puzzle though and well worked out! Mar 10, 2018 at 13:04

Are you a

It's fragile, iridescent, practically bulletproof in the thick end (cap), but if you twist the long end (stem) even a little,

the whole drop will spectacularly explode into a cloud of high speed glass fragments,

which probably qualifies as "unfriendly air" by any standards.

(If you haven't seen the super-slo-mo videos of this phenomenon on Youtube, you'll probably want to.)

• nopes, but thanks for teaching me about a new thing, i will check out the video:) Mar 7, 2018 at 16:58
• What a fascinating thing! Clever answer to the riddle... now I'm off to read more about these :) Mar 7, 2018 at 17:40
• Strictly speaking, the head isn't bulletproof. It'll break if you hit it with a bullet. However, it's very difficult to hit it head-on, and it's great at making bullets ricochet off the sides, and you're much more likely to break it by accidentally twisting the tail.
– anon
Mar 8, 2018 at 6:53
• Strictly speaking, your qualification does not invalidate 'practically bulletproof. Mar 8, 2018 at 8:24
• Whoa thats amazing! First the illusion in the mirror and now this! Mar 8, 2018 at 15:16

Are you a

Candle?

I am fragile

Soft wax, thin wick, drop it and it'll break.

and in many colors do I come,

Wax can be any color the maker decides.

You can touch my cap

Candle caps are used to extinguish a candle. You are able to touch these without harm.

But if you touch my stem

The wick..

Unfriendly air will you meet.

Fire -- very unfriendly.

• Nice try,check out the new hint Mar 8, 2018 at 7:24
• Edited my answer-- wasn't sure what the best way to go about editing is, so I will strike out the previous attempted
– Milk
Mar 8, 2018 at 16:03
• (Previous versions are always retained as part of the edit history - there's no need to retain the original, unless the original version is for some reason important to or referenced by the update. Feel free to clean up your answer to remove the original attempt.)
– Rubio
Mar 8, 2018 at 17:21
• @Rubio Ah, thank you so much! I'm still very new around here :)
– Milk
Mar 8, 2018 at 18:36
• Everyone was new here once :)
– Rubio
Mar 8, 2018 at 18:58

My guess is

Mushrooms, or maybe specifically puffball mushrooms. They have caps and stems, are pretty fragile, come in many colors, and puffball mushrooms release spores and dust on contact with things such as raindrops.

• Beat me by 58 seconds! :) Mar 7, 2018 at 16:36
• Nice try, but not the correct answer. Mar 7, 2018 at 16:37

Are you:

A Touch-Me-Not flower (Impatiens capensis)?

I am fragile

If you touch the Touch-Me-Not, it can explode.

and in many colors do I come,

The flower can come in a variety of colors.

You can touch my cap

You can touch the cap of the flower, but not the seed pod.

But if you touch my stem

I believe the seed pod is an extension of the stem.

Unfriendly air will you meet.

It will explode on you and you do not want to breathe in the seeds.

• Incorrect, but a good attempt. Mar 7, 2018 at 16:46

Are you an

Umbrella?

I am fragile

Umbrellas are not known as the sturdiest of materials

You can touch my cap

As long as you're gentle, it will still do the job

But if you touch my stem, unfriendly air you will meet

If you press the button and retract it while it's raining, you'll meet rain

• And it definitely comes in many colors! I like this answer :) Mar 7, 2018 at 18:18

You are

A halogen lamp!

I am fragile

and in many colors do I come,

There are coloured halogen lamps

You can touch my cap

You can handle a halogen lamp by its cup-shaped reflector

But if you touch my stem

But if you grab it by its cylindrical bulb...

Unfriendly air will you meet.

Once lit the grease from your fingers will cause it to explode and release the halogen gas inside.
"Unfriendly" might be a play on words with Bromine as in "bro" (a friend) and "mine" (the explosive device).
Much more likely is that "unfriendly" refers to the inability of Noble gasses to form bonds. However, noble gasses are not halogens, and noble gas lamps (such as neon tubes) do not have any special handling AFAIK.

• so close,unfriendly air might not only mean it is harmful to us.it is UNFRIENDLY Mar 8, 2018 at 14:12
• @crayon Okay, I'm pretty sure I nailed your hint this time, but the pieces don't fit for me -- maybe I'm just not versed enough in that domain. Mar 8, 2018 at 14:26
• spot on about unfriendly air, but it is not a halogen lamp-the object is of the same family(lighting device), more common than a halogen lamp Mar 8, 2018 at 14:32

Are you:

A teapot?

Because:

Porcelain is fragile and teapots come in many colors. You can touch the cap=lid but steam comes out the stem=spout.

Are you perhaps a

mushroom?

I am fragile
and in many colors do I come,

mushrooms fit both these - many varieties are fragile, and they can be a wide range of colors

You can touch my cap

generally, touching the top of a mushroom won't do you any harm

But if you touch my stem
Unfriendly air will you meet.

by touching the stem you can release spores (from the little frills underneath the cap - I've forgotten the exact terms). This can be "unfriendly air" because a) spores can be unpleasant/harmful to ingest and b) they create more mushrooms - not great if the mushrooms were unwanted/toxic!

Are you a

I am fragile and in many colors do I come,

cigarette lighters are fragile and come in different colors.

You can touch my cap

The metal part at the top of the lighter.

But if you touch my stem Unfriendly air will you meet.

If you press it pretty hard on the body, it will explode and liquid petroleum would be released and it's definitely unfriendly.

Rose flowers?

Fragile? True, as any other of their kind.

Colorful? True.

Touchable cap? True.

Questionable risk of touching stem? True.

Unfriendly air? It may sound cruel, but

filled with a scent of blood?

Are you a

Presta valve

You can touch my cap

Valves have a cap

But if you touch my stem Unfriendly air will you meet

Bike and car tyre valves have a stem, and the Presta valve will release air easily if you touch the stem without the cap on

Fragile / colours

The Presta valve is the most fragile of the tyre valves, and comes in different colours

Based on the answer by Quentin, I think you are a

Neon tube

Explanation: I am fragile

Neon tubes break easily

and in many colors do I come,

Neon signs famously come in many colors

You can touch my cap

If you ever change a neon tube, you touch it at the "caps" (contacts)

But if you touch my stem

Unfriendly air will you meet.

Don't touch the glass part with the neon gas inside! The grease from your fingers can cause it to break and release the "unfriendly" (inert) gas.

• I'm still scratching my head, but pretty sure these don't mind being handled with bare hands. They just don't get hot enough. Mar 8, 2018 at 14:45
• it is not a tube Mar 8, 2018 at 14:48

I'm thinking that

works.

You can touch its cap all day long without incident, but if you activate the stem........ (－‸ლ)

.

It's fragile, comes in many colors, and it also fits the hint

• very very good guess, but my next hint will rule this one out.wait for it Mar 8, 2018 at 12:39

the question guide me towards believing that it might be a

mercury-containing light bulb

it is fragile, the glass can be coloured,

you can touch the bulb itself but if you break the stem the mercury will release and mecury is generally not too good for you

EDIT

Compact fluorescents, like their tubular fluorescent precursors, contain a small amount of mercury—typically around five milligrams. Mercury is essential to a fluorescent bulb's ability to emit light; no other element has proved as efficient.

As effective as it is at enabling white light, however, mercury—sometimes called quicksilver—is also highly toxic. It is especially harmful to the brains of both fetuses and children.

as of the unfriendly phrase

it is very unfriendly for the enviroment since it needs to be processed as chemical waste at a special facility

• close,very close;focus on the 'unfriendly air' part Mar 8, 2018 at 13:48
• @Crayon Edited it maybe it makes more sense now? Mar 8, 2018 at 14:00
• unfriendly air might not only mean it is harmful to us.it is "UNFRIENDLY" Mar 8, 2018 at 14:13
• i edited it somemore but i dont think that anyhting else is withing reach until maybe the next hint Mar 8, 2018 at 14:30

Are you a

stinkbom/Fart bomb

I am fragile

can be easily perforated

and in many colors do I come,

different kind of packages:

You can touch my cap

you can touch the sides without activating it.

But if you touch my stem

if you touch the main body, you will activate it

Unfriendly air will you meet.

The worst smell!

just making a guess that is the answer a

bubble

fragile

as they can break or burst with slightest touch.

colorful

as when we see them in light they are seemingly colorful.

You can touch my cap :

we can touch them when they are on a surface of where they are formed for example the bubble maker tool.

But if you touch my stem ,Unfriendly air will you meet :

if we touch them when they are released they will burst releasing the air inside them which can be unfriendly sometimes if they are formed by unpleasant substances with strong odor.

• c'mon man, bubble has no cap or stem Mar 8, 2018 at 12:34
• haha.. was just a guess although.. :) Mar 8, 2018 at 12:37

I think You are a some kind of

soap Bubble

I am fragile-

It is extremely thing can fragile.

and in many colors do I come,-

A bubble it appears to change color. it shows rainbow colors.

• A very similar answer was already posted a couple of hours ago. Mar 8, 2018 at 12:08
• oh.. but i tried.
– user46034
Mar 8, 2018 at 12:10

Guess:

A balloon. pops easily Comes in every color we can think of.
Has a nice round top "cap".
The stem when opened can be made to make a most rude and unfriendly noise with the air inside.

hints:

Is a common object, not living.

• Welcome to Puzzling.SE! Could you edit your answer to include spoiler tags, so as not to spoil your solution for anyone who wants to have a go at the puzzle themselves? Thanks! Mar 9, 2018 at 15:53
• Sorry, didn't see how to do that the first go. This should help. Mar 9, 2018 at 17:33