Experimental Observations on Adipocere Formation

    Volume 38, Issue 1 (January 1993)

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    CODEN: JFSOAD

    Page Count: 3


    Lowry, MA
    National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC

    Micozzi, MS
    National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC

    Mellen, PFM

    (Received 14 April 1992; accepted 11 June 1992)

    Abstract

    Adipocere, “grave wax,” is a waxy or greasy decomposition product formed by hydrolysis and hydrogenation of tissue fats. Once formed, it appears stable for extended periods. Adipocere has generally been considered to result from bacterial action, commonly in warm, damp, anaerobic environments. However, its frequency, rate of formation, factors affecting its formation and physical characteristics are not well defined. To study the frequency, time course, and effects of temperature and clothing on adipocere formation, we submerged human adipose tissue samples in aquaria under controlled conditions and conducted serial observations.

    Adipocere formed with high frequency, within a few months, in tissues submerged in warm tap water; similar changes took longer, 12 to 18 months in cold water submersion. Presence of clothing over the tissue appeared to accelerate adipocere formation.


    Paper ID: JFS13379J

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS13379J

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    Author
    Title Experimental Observations on Adipocere Formation
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30