William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Monday, 26, September, 2011

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 14:26

It doesn’t exist. Really, truly, Mr. Dickens, it does not happen. At all. Ever. No matter what this Coroner in Galway says.

Sheesh. What happens in “Spontaneous Human Combustion”–three things are necessary. 1. the human needs to be drunk or drugged. 2. the person was probably smoking, or had a candle or some form of open flame. 3. The person was fattish, with clothing that can act as a wick. When fat gets hot, it melts. When human fat gets hot and runs onto absorbent fabric, what you have is a wick. Put the wick on a stuporous individual, and let it smoulder, eventually the person will go away and then go out.

I wouldn’t make a cunning plan on it happening, but remember that very fat people have set crematoria on fire (grease fires). It’s not so good a story as spontaneous combustion, but since the human body is 70% water, it’s much more likely.

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6 Comments »

  1. You are no fun at all, William.

    Comment by Angry Professor — Monday, 26, September, 2011 @ 18:29 | Reply

  2. 4) Congress makes me burst into flames.

    Comment by North - Gun Blog Black List — Monday, 26, September, 2011 @ 18:37 | Reply

  3. I assume that suicide is ruled out.

    (Though under these conditions, showing whether the death was by smoke/CO inhalation, or overdose of alcohol/opiate before the ‘spontaneous combustion’ was triggered would be hard…)

    I rarely say this, but I’m not sure I want to remember this little tidbit of information! I’ve always known that the human body can burn, but I never thought it could happen unintentionally.

    Comment by karrde — Tuesday, 27, September, 2011 @ 11:17 | Reply

  4. I believe this picture explains the real cause of human combustion. http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/upload/2009/03/indonesia_the_stupid_it_burns/thestupiditburns.jpg

    Comment by Solomon — Tuesday, 27, September, 2011 @ 11:20 | Reply

  5. I once dated a guy that seriously thought “Spinal Tap” was a documentary. I asked him if he didn’t get suspicious when the drummers kept bursting into flame.

    “It could happen!!”

    Yeah. *sigh*

    Comment by Nancy R. — Wednesday, 28, September, 2011 @ 19:59 | Reply

  6. It was interesting to learn from the Prohibition documentary that SHC was one of the [many] evils supposedly caused by excessive drinking of alcohol.

    Comment by rethoryke — Monday, 3, October, 2011 @ 21:35 | Reply


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