What exactly is it that kills you when you're boiled alive?

I was boiling some water for my mom and this question just kinda popped into my head. Also, will you die quicker/slower/more painfully if you’re boiled in oil as opposed to water?

If the Perfect Master answers this one, it’d probably be one of the most painful-to-read SD reports ever.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. At least that’s what they keep saying.

Depends on the boiling point of the oil. Higher boiling point, quicker death. Lower boiling point, slower death (and much more excruciating).

Man, that’d have to be a pretty big pot and fire to put a whole person in.

What if the water is only knee high or maybe comes up to mid thigh? And they took means to keep the rest of you cold?

Reminds me of the stereotypical story where the stereotypical white explorer in central Africa is captured by the stereotypical man-eating black tribe so they put him in the stereotypical, huge, pot and start dancing around the pot while it cooks. As the go around dancing with big spoons in their hands, one of them, every time he goes around he hits the explorer on the head with the spoon. Finally, another tribesman says to him: “What are you doing that for? leave him alone!” to which the first one replies: “Didn’t you see him? He’s eating the potatoes!”.

Check out “Death in Yellowstone” - lots of lovely descriptions of people who for whatever reason ended up in some of the thermal pools in Yellowstone. Ick.

It would kill me to know that I was being boiled alive!

Thanks for that Death in Yellowstone reference… anybody else got any answers/educated guesses/WAGs (as opposed to quips)?

I’d have to vote for shock. Sitting here THINKING about being boiled in ANYTHING I can feel the symptoms of shock coming on! Oil vs. water: don’t think it’d be much different.

Ok my physiology and biochemistry is limited but I will take a shot.

How about drowning?

Also your body does not work outside of a relatively narrow temperature range. 106-108 deg F are about the top end. Immersed in high temperature fluid your body would have no way to cool itself and your body temperature would skyrocket.

Otherwise heat denatures protiens, including those in our blood. Your body would respond to the initial burn by attempting to pump more fluid into the burned areas, the heat would cook/congeal the blood and you would end up with a congestive failure of your circulatory system.

As far as oil vs water. Immersion would probably be no different at the same temp but oils do have higher boiling points than water. The combination of higher boiling point and higher viscosity made oil a much better weapon in medieval times since it would stick to the target a bit and deliver more injury whereas water runs off and or cools itself by evaporaation much more quickly.