Melting Bone

  • Nov. 23rd, 2007 at 8:54 PM
theemdash: (SG-1 Sam)
A few years back I wound up writing a research paper on forensic investigation for arson. (Actually the research paper was on something else and this was a loosely related topic and infinitely more interesting, so, um. . . .) Since then I've taken to critiquing tv shows saying things like, "There's no way that fire would have turned that bone to ash" and then explaining to everyone within hearing distance why that fire wouldn't have turned that bone to ash.

Recently I saw a show in which a fire melted bone. And just, no, no way can a fire melt bone. Bone doesn't melt. Right?

Well, while trying to decide what to NaBloPoMo today, I thought I'd google a little information on whether or not bone can melt. And apparently, bone can melt. Color me stunned.

Bone begins to melt around 1600 °C (2912 °F). To put that into perspective, a crematorium generates 870-980 °C (1600-1800 °F). Cremated ashes will have some bone fragments because all of the bone doesn't turn to ash (though most funeral homes will powder the remaining bone fragments).

Despite evidence that bone can melt, I still think that particular show was wrong, wrong, wrong because keeping an open fire hot enough to completely incinerate a body is difficult enough, but adding an additional 600+ °C would be impossible. To burn a fire that hot you need an accelerant and a closed area. Open fires need not apply, Mr. Mustang.

In case you are wondering, the two episodes that make me go into my bone-ash-melt rage are SG-1's "The First Commandment" (yeah, total ash? I don't think so) and FMA's "Laws and Promises" (melting bone, possible, but not in this case).

This post in no way advocates playing with fire.


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