How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?

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Tristan Lenzo

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Tristan Lenzo  asked the Naked Scientists:

How long would it take a body to completely decompose if it were in a concrete container?

Tristan,
From New Mexico

What do you think?

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Offline Chemistry4me

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #1 on: 22/11/2008 22:55:58 »
Would the amount of time be any different than if the body was in the ground/soil?

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Offline Bored chemist

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #2 on: 23/11/2008 10:15:43 »
Would the amount of time be any different than if the body was in the ground/soil?
Fewer worms.
Also fewer bacteria- concrete is very alkaline and will inhibit a lot of bugs.
In any event, the bones will be there for a long time so it's not a good way to get rid of a murder victim if that's what you had in mind ;-)
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Offline yor_on

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #3 on: 29/11/2008 20:53:20 »
Try to dip your hand in wet/fresh concrete.
It will eat it up.
So I do believe it differs.
But then again after it has 'burned' through enough that you can walk on it it wont 'expand very much, but it will suck the water out of the body.
So my guess is some kind of 'hole room' like in Popeji with a badly 'corroded' mummy inside.
But it will come back to haunt you:)
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Offline Don_1

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #4 on: 03/12/2008 10:35:18 »
In any event, the bones will be there for a long time so it's not a good way to get rid of a murder victim if that's what you had in mind ;-)

And so to plan 'B'.

Curses, all that time and effort wasted digging up the patio!
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Offline dentstudent

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #5 on: 03/12/2008 10:53:21 »
Try to dip your hand in wet/fresh concrete.
It will eat it up.
So I do believe it differs.
But then again after it has 'burned' through enough that you can walk on it it wont 'expand very much, but it will suck the water out of the body.
So my guess is some kind of 'hole room' like in Popeji with a badly 'corroded' mummy inside.
But it will come back to haunt you:)

Isn't there a lot of lime in cement, which is corrosive?

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Offline yor_on

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #6 on: 04/12/2008 13:21:16 »
limestone is a major ingredient in cement.
http://www.es.ucl.ac.uk/schools/UCL/cement.htm
And getting cement (burns) in your eye can make you blind if you don't immediately rinse it off.
« Last Edit: 04/12/2008 13:23:55 by yor_on »
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Offline dentstudent

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2008 13:28:24 »
IIRC, lime was thrown into graves to accelerate decomposition? At least, that is what happened in "Amadeus", and because it's a film, it MUST be right.....

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Offline Bored chemist

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How long does a body take to decompose in concrete?
« Reply #8 on: 04/12/2008 19:19:33 »
A few murderers have been caught because they believed that quicklime would destroy a body. Actually it draws the moisture out and mumifies it. Ordinary (slaked) lime as used in mortar is corrosive but it's not very soluble and I don't know how good a job it would do of destroying a body.
I believe that enzyme based detergents of the sort used in dish washing machines do a good job of destroying the flesh, but you still have to get rid of the bones.
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