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madd1
12-21-2000, 08:11 PM
Why do they put lime on dead bodies, such as in mass graves? Does it accelerate or hinder decomposition? What exactly happens?

As a note; This question is out of curiosity, but don't have to come to my New Years party if you don't want to.

Kat
12-21-2000, 08:55 PM
According to this site (http://archlab.uindy.edu/Documents/BARFAA/B6.html):
A survey of case studies has shown that lime is sometimes placed in the grave by an assailant, presumably to hasten the decay of the victim...Preliminary results indicate that the presence of lime in the grave significantly slowed the decomposition of the soft tissues, most likely because the substance dehydrated the remains and reduced access by necrophilous insects.

dp
12-21-2000, 11:56 PM
lime masks odors

Gaspode
12-22-2000, 01:22 AM
The question probably stems fom a confusion between Garden or Hydrated Lime and Quicklime or Caustic Lime.
Quicklime is very caustic, and burns human skin on contact. It has been used in mass graves for hundreds of years to help prevent the spread of disease and mask odours. It does in part this by sterilising and dehyrdating the exposed body surfaces and making the grave unattractive to insects and scavengers. I imagine as a side effect it would help preserve the copses to some degree as well.
I suspect that criminals putting lime in graves have made two mistakes. First confusing quicklime with garden lime, which would do almost nothing to a corpse, and second assuming from historical records and documentaries that quicklime was meant to speed decomposition rather than simply preventing disease spread and keeping the air fresh.
I use garden lime in my compost bin to speed decay, but for reasons that probably wouldn't have any effect on a human corpse.

LonesomePolecat
12-22-2000, 07:39 AM
Okay, so what would you use to get rid of a corpse? It has to be something fairly cheap and easily available or I can't ... oops!

C K Dexter Haven
12-22-2000, 08:31 AM
Best way to get rid of a corpse: saw it up in little pieces, presumably in the bathroom, and then put them in a suitcase and dump them in the East River. Possibly bury a piece or two under the roses at the end of the flower garden.

Oh, and IMPORTANT: Be sure that no one in a cast with a telephoto lense is watching you from accross the courtyard.

LouisB
12-22-2000, 08:35 AM
Invite all your friends for Christmas dinner-----

manhattan
12-22-2000, 08:36 AM
Oh, jeez. I got GE on the west side with PCB's, and now I got Dex and Hitchcock on the east side with lord-knows who?

Can't an island get a break around here?

stuyguy
12-22-2000, 02:34 PM
Hey, Manny, I got it even if most of the others didn't.

Mr. Cynical
12-22-2000, 03:11 PM
Although many people have heard of the act sprinkling of lime over a corpse, few people ever remember the second, and ultimately more important act, the application of salt, and the dousing of tequila.

Doctor Jackson
12-22-2000, 04:30 PM
Heh.

Hey, barkeep! Give me a maguerita, and make it stiff!

Sofa King
12-22-2000, 04:36 PM
And if you're going to dovetail Faulkner and Hitchcock, it's best to sprinkle lime throughout the yard if you are intent on keeping the body of a loved one in the home.

FunkDaddy
12-22-2000, 07:20 PM
We've had skeletons recovered here (Newfoundland) that are estimated at well over 300 years old (could be over 1000 - I forget the exact number and my notes are elsewhere). The skeletons are kept in good shape by lime. It counteracts NF's naturally acidic soil profile; I guess the folks that used large limestone slabs as covers for graves knew of the effect.

Obviously, using limestone would be a great mistake if you want to conceal a murder. I unfortunately don't have any information on how using a lime product would speed decomposition. :)

FD.

Cartooniverse
12-22-2000, 08:10 PM
Originally posted by manhattan
Oh, jeez. I got GE on the west side with PCB's, and now I got Dex and Hitchcock on the east side with lord-knows who?
Can't an island get a break around here?


<-----reaching for flash gun and spare old-style flashbulbs.....wahoo, that insane bastard will NEVER fit me out of that windoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

:D
Cartooniverse

robby
11-03-2001, 12:37 PM
Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but it was recently referenced here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=96899).

Originally posted by Gaspode
The question probably stems fom a confusion between Garden or Hydrated Lime and Quicklime or Caustic Lime.

Actually, the "lime" sold to gardeners is usually mainly limestone, which is calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It usually contains magnesium carbonate as well.

"Quicklime" is produced by heating (calcining) limestone, and consists of calcium oxide (CaO) and magnesium oxide (MgO).

"Hydrated lime" is produced by adding sufficient water to convert the oxides in quicklime to hydroxides. Hydrated lime is thus primarily Ca(OH)2 and Mg(OH)2.

You can get more info here:
http://www.lime.org/faqs.html
http://www.sigmaminerals.com/aboutlime.htm

(I just did a project involving the use of lime.)

tomndebb
11-03-2001, 02:45 PM
How many bodies?

Gaspode
11-03-2001, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by robby
Actually, the "lime" sold to gardeners is usually mainly limestone, which is calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It usually contains magnesium carbonate as well......

Picky, picky picky.

Perhaps I should have said "a confusion between Garden or Hydrated Limes and Quicklime/Caustic Lime.

Happy now? :cool:

Wanders offf muttering under his breath.

Colibri
11-04-2001, 10:04 AM
Word trivia: "Sarcophagus" (a stone coffin), means "flesh-eating," (derived from Greek sark- "flesh" + phagein "to eat"), based on the early belief that a certain kind of limestone would consume flesh if a body was placed in a coffin made of it. I'm not certain that this was true, however.

Erasticity
11-04-2001, 10:25 AM
If you reeeealy want to get rid of a corpse, you run it through a limb shredder and mulch yer garden. Don't forget to roto-till afterwards. (And maybe sprinkle a litte lime...salt...NO! Won't do it!)

robby
11-04-2001, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by Gaspode
Picky, picky picky.

Perhaps I should have said "a confusion between Garden or Hydrated Limes and Quicklime/Caustic Lime.

Happy now? :cool:

Wanders offf muttering under his breath.

Hey now, don't get your undies in a twist. :) My nitpick mainly arose from the difficulty I had in getting the lime for my project.

I needed Ca(OH)2 for my grad school research project. So I head down to S-MartTM because I saw the big bags labeled "LIME." (I say to myself, surely these bags actually contain hydrated lime because there's no way they're selling caustic quicklime to Joe Gardener. Was pissed to find out that the bags did indeed say "LIME" in huge letters, with the note that the contents were actually crushed limestone. Crap.

Off to Home Depot. They must sell hydrated lime there. People use it for mortar. Find some. No indication as to the chemical composition. Write down the name of the manufacturer and the town they're in. No such company exists. But there is one other lime manufacturer in that town. Call them. It's the company I'm looking for. They changed their name. Very nice guy at the company faxes me an MSDS. Turns out his product is "dolomitic hydrated lime" which is 75% Ca(OH)2 and 25% Mg(OH)2. What I want is "high-calcium hydrated lime." Is this produced at his operation? No. Crap.

Consider just buying lab grade Ca(OH)2 from Fisher Chemical. For the 100 lb I need, this will cost over $1000. No go.

Hit the web. Nearest manufacturer of high-calcium hydrated lime is in Canada. Track down a distributer in Cambridge, Mass. Only 2 hours away! Call them. They actually ship to another distributer in Fall River, Mass. Only 30 min. away. Alright! Go there and buy it. Total price $8.50.

Only took me 3 weeks. Sheesh. Never realized "lime" was such a generic term, but now I know more about lime than I ever wanted to. And filled with a burning desire to share this with fellow dopers.

So does "lime" accelerate or hinder decomposition of dead bodies? Heck if I know... :D

Frank O. Pinion
11-04-2001, 05:48 PM
Anybody else find it just a little strange that there are currently <2> threads about disposing of dead bodies here?

robby
11-04-2001, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by Frank O. Pinion
Anybody else find it just a little strange that there are currently <2> threads about disposing of dead bodies here?

Well...the OP in this thread was specifically asking about the effect of "lime" on dead bodies.

While this newer thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=96899) did mention the effect of lime in the OP, the main question appears to be how to dispose of a body. Most of the answers in that thread seem to be addressing the issue of disposal, versus the effect of lime.

That being said, was it a breach of etiquette to bring this thread back to life? Or should it be killed? Should we then dump lime on the thread to speed up decomposition or will this merely preserve the evidence? :confused:

Eliahna
11-04-2001, 09:12 PM
Originally posted by Frank O. Pinion
Anybody else find it just a little strange that there are currently <2> threads about disposing of dead bodies here? As the festive season approaches, many find themselves pondering questions like how big a turkey, where to do last minute Christmas shopping, how to dispose of bodies, where to put all the folks coming to stay, that sort of thing.

jab1
11-15-2001, 07:30 PM
I think limes go very well with margaritas.

JillGat
11-15-2001, 08:15 PM
I just closed the other thread on this same topic. It was getting a little too specific and graphic, with advice about what could appear to be potential disposal of a particular body-to-be for my tastes. Ew, my tastes. I didn't mean it like that. Anyway, one can ask "How did this crook get rid of the body in this book I read?" or "How can I, myself get rid of a particular body?" Okay, there's grey matter... er grey area between these two, but I'm watching this thread now, too. (Man, I do this job for free)
Jill