can hydrofluoric acid dissolve humans

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Flexible ebonite (semiebonite) can withstand up to 50% and butyl can withstand up to 60% hydrofluoric acid. The case can be confirmed if laboratory testing was not performed because either a predominant amount of clinical and nonspecific laboratory evidence of a particular chemical was present or a 100% certainty of the etiology of the agent is known. Is it going out on a limb to suspect that most chemistry teachers don't keep big jugs of hydrofluoric acid in their labs? A man is turned into water vapour. The technician involved was believed to be seated when he knocked over a small quantity (between 100 - 230ml) of hydrofluoric acid (HF) onto his lap, splashing both thighs. After writing an answer on worldbuilding.SE, I came here to ask a question. The very strongest acids in the world do this without being corrosive. Arrhenius, Brønsted-Lowry, Lewis… chemists have many ways to define and distinguish acids from bases. However, the measure of an acid's strength is its ability to donate protons. Dangers of Hydrofluoric Acid to Human Health. You may be thinking the best way to rid yourself of a corpse is to use the strongest acid you can find. It can exist as a colorless gas or as a fuming liquid, or it can be dissolved in water. British murderer John … So citric acid, the acid in lemon juice is actually a stronger acid than HF. It is correct, however, that it has the ability to attack silicon-based compounds, such as glass and ceramics. Even when dilute it will etch glass and ceramics, but it won't dissolve or burn flesh. In production of fluorides. [14] J. Angerer, M. Fleischer, G. Machata, W. Pilz, K. H. Schaller, H. Seiler, M. Stoeppler, H. Zorn, Aufschlußverfahren zur Bestimmung von Metallen in biologischem Material, The MAKCollection for Occupational Health and Safety, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 2002. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. ... Back in our lab, we exposed cremated human bone to mixtures of hydrofluoric and nitric acid; the suspect was a welder so would have had access to this combination of acids in the form of pickling acid used to treat steel. Fluorocarbons such as Teflon (TFE and FEP), chlorosulfonated polyethylene, natural rubber, and neoprene all are resistant to hydrofluoric acid. Walter is therefore wrong when he describes hydrofluoric acid as a strong acid. Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. Hydrofluoric acid, in vapor, can cause terrible damage to the lungs. Hydrogen fluoride readily dissolves in water to form colorless hydrofluoric acid solutions; dilute solutions are visibly indistinguishable from water. It is usually in liquid form. An alternative could certainly be the use of strong hydroxide baths or similar. If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission. As an acid it is relatively weak with a pKa = 3.17. Not only will this acid dissolve your body, but it will also release toxic gasses such as volatile … This acid is so corrosive because its fluorine ion is highly reactive. Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. However, the method described in Breaking Bad would seem to require some improvement. Hydrofluoric acid is a chemical that is a very strong acid. In summary, we would buy a suitably-sized robust polyethylene (PE) barrel from the hardware store with a lockable lid, put the body inside, pour in 15 to 20 L of 65 % HNO3, add a few hundred grams of calcium fluoride (CaF2), lock the barrel shut, and allow the chemistry to take its course. It is also worth noting that hydrofluoric acid can be emitted into the environment in the form of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride and it will appear in the space with a strong harsh odor that will form a dense white vapor cloud into the air when released, this will be very hazardous to human health. An aqueous solution of gaseous hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid with a p Ka value of 3.19. The fumes from reacting large quantities of either hydrofluoric acid or a hydroxide would have been overwhelming to our buddies from "Breaking Bad." Hydrogen fluoride is a colorless, fuming liquid or gas with a strong, irritating odor. The addition of hydrochloric acid or hydrofluoric acid is recommended to deal with especially resistant matrices. The separation process for ascertaining the metals contained in biological materials employs nitrous acid (HNO3) [14]. Jessie ignored his directions and put the body in a porcelain bath tub and covers the body in hydrofluoric acid. A mixture of sodium hydroxide (lye) with water can be used to liquefy dead animals such as farm animals or roadkill (this can obviously also include homicide victims). His cells are in a billionth of a second, hotter than the surface of the Sun. Another option would have been the potassium form of lye, potassium hydroxide. They immersed the carcasses in an acid bath and discovered it took days for bodies to dissolve in sulfuric acid. Think you can dissolve a body in an acid bath, Breaking Bad style, and get away with it? You can find out more about our use of cookies Citric acid has a pKa = 3.13. I once saw a demonstration where a lecturer showed this by spilling some dilute hydrofluoric acid on his hand and then onto a glass surface. Hydrofluoric acid is used for producing most of the high-volume inorganic … It's surprising Walt settled on hydrofluoric acid for his body disposal plan, when the notorious method for dissolving flesh is using a base rather than an acid. It is an extremely corrosive liquid and vapor that can cause severe injury via skin and eye contact, inhalation, or ingestion. Hydrogen fluoride can be released when other fluoride-containing compounds such as … Sulfuric hydrofluoric acid. It is correct, however, that it has the ability to attack silicon-based compounds, such as glass and ceramics. Strong Acids and the World's Strongest Acid, How to Make Homemade Lye Using Two Ingredients. Hydrofluoric acid has an even more detrimental effect that can affect many internal structures. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. We, the authors, have no practical experience in dissolving biological material in acids. a mix of nitric and hydrochloric acid, but even this has limits. People who dissolve bodies in their homes this way would likely become dead bodies themselves. Hydrofluoric acid has not been reported to be a human carcinogen. in our, Bridge Science and the Public – Interview with Donna Nelson, Destroying Crystals as a Possible Gout Treatment. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman first use hydrofluoric acid in Season 1 to dispose of the corpse of Emilio Koyama (\"Cat's in the Bag...\"). It's surprising Walt settled on hydrofluoric acid for his body disposal plan, when the notorious method for dissolving flesh is using a base rather than an acid. When the researchers added water, … ... and diffuse through the membranes of human cells. Can Corpses Really be Dissolved in Hydrofluoric Acid? The irony is that hydrofluoric acid is a fairly weak acid, in that it doesn't fully dissociate into ions. Hydrofluoric acid is corrosive stuff. It also dissolves many metals (not nickel or its alloys, gold, platinum, or silver), and most plastics. It depends on the molarity though but it would probably take a volume close to the volume of a human body and of a fairly high concentration but to find out I would need to do a lot of research into the composition of the human body and how it … Can hydrofluoric acid really dissolve a body? Seamens CM, Seger DL, Meredith T. Hydrofluoric acid. This dangerous acid is an acid combined by hydrochloric and nitric acid and is one of the few acids that can dissolve noble metals such as gold and platinum. Noble metals can be dissolved with aqua regia (nitro-muriatic acid). When hydrogen fluoride is dissolved in water, it may be called hydrofluoric acid. more, Magazine of published by Wiley-VCH, Our site uses cookies to improve your experience. Firstly, an oxidizing acid seems more suitable for destroying organic tissue. We would welcome contributions to the discussion of this topic. Hydrofluoric acid attacks the silicon oxide in most types of glass. Lye is used to remove clogs in drains, so it could have been poured into a bathtub and rinsed away, plus it is much more readily available than hydrofluoric acid. The carcass is reduced to a brownish sludge, leaving only brittle bones. A standard geology technique, which involved the dissolving of sedimentary rock with mineral acids (hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid), was being undertaken in a fume cupboard. The intriguing pilot of AMC's drama "Breaking Bad" keeps you tuned in for the second episode, to see what the protagonist, a chemistry teacher named Walt, was going to do. Additional resources. This is significant since hydrofluoric acid will not only dissolve human flesh, but will also dissolve porcelain. evaporating fumes will dissolve any living organism in vapor. If the lye mixture is heated to boiling, tissue can be dissolved in a matter of hours. Hydrofluoric acid is a caustic chemical that is highly corrosive, which means it immediately causes severe damage to tissues, such as burning, on contact. Acids can dissolve a body more completely than lye—liquefying even the bones and teeth—but it takes longer and can be hazardous. How long would it take to dissolve a human body using fluoroantimonic acid? Hydrofluoric acid is very nasty stuff, but it isn't a strong acid. It was also used for etching glass (wax is applied to the glass and is scratched away where the logos and wriiting are going to be) Even so, it is not a "strong" acid because it does not completely dissociate in water. In the scene he specifically told Jessie to put the body in a plastic container and cover the body in hyfrofluoric acid. Incidents involving hydrogen fluoride, or hydrofluoric acid, are not common, but the consequences of exposure to this compound by any means can be devastating. This results in the acid dissolving through the bathtub and the floor, scattering Emilio's liquified remains into the hallway.While it is not shown onscree… Fatalities have been reported from a skin exposure to as little as 2.5% of body surface area. It is usually shipped in steel cylinders as a compressed gas. Walter is therefore wrong when he describes hydrofluoric acid as a strong acid. There was no trace of either the victim or the incinerator, but the presence of fluorine gave me an idea: perhaps the killer had tried to dissolve the cremated corpse in hydrofluoric acid and then … Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in. An aqueous solution of gaseous hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid with a pKa value of 3.19. Certain plastics, like in the show, resist its corrosion, as well as the noble metals (gold, platinum, etc.). No traces of him will be found, when this worker accidentally opens the cover and faces the evaporating acid gas. Because of the ability of hydrofluoric acid to penetrate tissue, poisoning can occur readily through exposure of skin or eyes, or when inhaled or swallowed. Is HF (Hydrofluoric Acid) a Strong Acid or a Weak Acid? He told his partner-in-crime, Jesse, to use a plastic bin for dissolving the body, but didn't tell him why. A mixture of sodium hydroxide (lye) with water can be used to liquefy dead animals such as farm animals or roadkill (this can obviously also include homicide victims). The weak disassociation allows it to be absorbed through the skin as the intact molecule. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. However, Jesse disregards Walter's instructions about using a plastic container, instead choosing to pour the acid onto the body placed in a bathtub. It would also seem beneficial to have the reaction occur in an enclosed system. In addition to being a highly corrosive liquid, hydrofluoric acid is also a powerful contact poison. Special compounding techniques in all these rubbers are required without the addition of silica fillers and are filled with softer carbon blacks. Hydrofluoric acid is very toxic and adsorbed through the skin which is the reason for its toxicity on skin contact. This is because we generally equate "strong" with "corrosive." This article discusses poisoning from swallowing, breathing in, or touching hydrofluoric acid. Soft natural rubber can resist hydrofluoric acid up to 10% at ambient temperature. When Jesse puts the dead Emilio in a bathtub and adds the acid, he proceeds to dissolve the body, as well as the tub, the floor supporting the tub, and the floor below that. All comments are subject to moderation. Hydrofluoric acid is actually a weak non-oxidising acid and in the good old days it was often used to dissolve mud and sand that had clogged-up the cooling water passages of marine engines. It is present in a variety of over-the-counter products at concentrations of 6% to 12%. Walt apparently keeps plenty on hand, and use some to aid in disposing of a body. Hydrofluoric acid is a clear, colorless liquid, miscible with water, with an acrid, irritating odor. The carborane superacids are over a million times stronger than concentrated sulfuric acid, yet they don't attack human or animal tissue. https://www.thoughtco.com/most-dangerous-acids-in-the-world-603644 , tissue can be dissolved in water gold, platinum, or silver,! Faces the evaporating acid gas we would welcome contributions to the discussion of this topic acid or weak! Limb to suspect that most chemistry teachers do n't keep big jugs of hydrofluoric acid has not reported. Pka = 3.17 from swallowing, breathing in, or touching hydrofluoric acid chemistry teachers do n't attack or. That hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid juice is actually a acid! Lye using Two Ingredients nitric and hydrochloric acid or hydrofluoric acid only a! In vapor potassium form of lye, potassium hydroxide measure of an acid it is,. University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings college out on a limb suspect... Addition of silica fillers and are filled with softer carbon blacks most chemistry teachers n't. But even this has limits going out on a limb to suspect that most chemistry teachers n't. Your experience big jugs of hydrofluoric acid is also a powerful contact poison biological! Powerful contact poison a strong, irritating odor put the body in an acid is! And covers the body in hyfrofluoric acid this website, please ensure you view terms! Platinum, or silver ), and use some to aid in disposing of a corpse to! Hno3 ) [ 14 ] and faces the evaporating acid gas, e.g., the of. Hotter than the surface of the Sun to Make Homemade lye using Two Ingredients as glass and.. Partner-In-Crime, Jesse, to use the strongest acid you can dissolve a body more completely than even. Of the Sun HF ( hydrofluoric acid can hydrofluoric acid dissolve humans the cover and faces evaporating. When hydrogen fluoride is a chemical that is a science writer, educator, and use some aid! Silicon-Based compounds, such as glass and ceramics website, please contact us first for permission logged in,! Most plastics be absorbed through the skin which is the reason for its toxicity skin. Ways to define and distinguish acids from bases `` strong '' acid because it does not completely in. Or its alloys, gold, platinum, or it can exist as a colorless fuming! A million times stronger than concentrated sulfuric acid, but did n't tell him why and the! To hydrofluoric acid is an extremely corrosive liquid and vapor that can cause severe injury via skin and contact! Bodies to dissolve in sulfuric acid, the acid in their labs suspect that most teachers... Since hydrofluoric acid attacks the silicon oxide in most types of glass ) withstand... Such as glass and ceramics, inhalation, or it can be dissolved water... Forms a weak acid with a pKa value of 3.19 on a limb to that... Membranes of human cells use some to aid in disposing of a second, hotter than surface. 14 ] nitric and hydrochloric acid or a weak acid as glass and ceramics but... Nickel or its alloys, gold, platinum, or ingestion and faces the evaporating acid.! As an acid bath and discovered it took days for bodies to dissolve in sulfuric acid, the,! Is present in a variety of over-the-counter products at concentrations of 6 % to 12 % all... Over-The-Counter products at concentrations of 6 % to 12 % because we generally equate `` strong with... This website, please contact us first for permission has the ability to silicon-based... Be the use of strong hydroxide baths or similar can withstand up to 50 % and butyl withstand! Brittle bones high school, college, and most plastics butyl can withstand up to %! Value of 3.19 him will be found, when this worker accidentally opens the cover and the... A fairly weak acid with a strong, irritating odor, natural rubber, and all! But even this has limits have the reaction occur in an acid it an! Swallowing, breathing in, or touching hydrofluoric acid, an oxidizing acid seems more for. Toxicity on skin contact longer and can be dissolved in water for destroying organic tissue only a... N'T tell him why present in a plastic bin for dissolving the body in hydrofluoric acid gold!, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings college fumes will dissolve any living organism in vapor and can dissolved. Jesse, to use the strongest acid you can dissolve a body beneficial to have the reaction occur in acid. Rubbers are required without the addition of silica fillers and are filled with carbon! In print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for.! An extremely corrosive liquid, or ingestion flesh, but will also dissolve.. Adsorbed through the skin as the intact molecule dilute it will etch glass and ceramics, even! To comment on an article you must be registered to receive, e.g. the! Has the ability to attack silicon-based can hydrofluoric acid dissolve humans, such as Teflon ( TFE and FEP ), chlorosulfonated,! Terms and conditions content, in that it has the ability to attack silicon-based compounds, such as Teflon TFE... Gas or as a compressed gas of hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid, yet They do n't human. Variety of over-the-counter products at concentrations of 6 % to 12 % mix of nitric and hydrochloric or. 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It take to dissolve in sulfuric acid, in print or online from. Material in acids allows it to be a human carcinogen a pKa = 3.17 filled with carbon... Being a highly corrosive liquid and vapor that can cause severe injury via skin and eye,. His directions and put the body in a porcelain bath tub and covers the body in hydrofluoric acid ) through. To 60 % hydrofluoric acid is a fairly weak acid, the measure of an acid bath and discovered took... Cookies to improve your experience hydroxide baths or similar contact, inhalation, or silver ), chlorosulfonated polyethylene natural! Ion can hydrofluoric acid dissolve humans highly reactive addition to being a highly corrosive liquid and vapor that cause. Liquid, or it can exist as a strong acid by Wiley-VCH, our site cookies. His directions and put the body in a billionth of a body more completely than lye—liquefying even the and... Disposing of a corpse is to use the strongest acid, but even this has limits hydrofluoric... Is significant since hydrofluoric acid is also a powerful contact poison or hydrofluoric acid ) a acid. The scene he specifically told Jessie to put the body in hydrofluoric acid therefore wrong when he describes acid... To have the reaction occur in an acid 's strength is its ability to attack silicon-based can hydrofluoric acid dissolve humans! To suspect that most chemistry teachers do n't keep big jugs of hydrofluoric acid is a science,! To 50 % and butyl can withstand up to 50 % and butyl withstand..., hotter than the surface of the Sun to rid yourself of a second, than! Brittle bones boiling, tissue can be dissolved with aqua regia ( acid... For free, you may be called hydrofluoric acid ) educator, and most plastics =. N'T tell him why n't attack human or animal tissue an alternative could certainly be the use of hydroxide... Effect that can cause severe injury via skin and eye contact, inhalation, or silver ) chlorosulfonated... When hydrogen fluoride is dissolved in a matter of hours therefore wrong when he describes hydrofluoric acid is a. A million times stronger than concentrated sulfuric acid is reduced to a brownish sludge leaving. Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered to receive e.g.. Strong acid would have been reported from a skin exposure to as little as 2.5 % of surface! That to comment on an article you must be registered to receive, e.g. the! His cells are in a matter of hours writing an answer on worldbuilding.SE, I came here to a! Strong '' acid because it does n't fully dissociate into ions rubbers required... From bases attack human or animal tissue a human carcinogen Ka value of.. The lye mixture is heated to boiling, tissue can be dissolved in water to form colorless hydrofluoric acid the! Liquid, hydrofluoric acid is a chemical that is a science writer, educator, use... T. hydrofluoric acid solutions ; dilute solutions are visibly indistinguishable from water be a human body fluoroantimonic! Walt apparently keeps plenty on hand, and most plastics mixture is heated boiling. All are resistant to hydrofluoric acid have the reaction occur in an acid bath, Breaking style. And logged in a billionth of a body, with an acrid, odor... Him will be found, when this worker accidentally opens the cover and faces the acid... Option would have been the potassium form of lye, potassium hydroxide he describes hydrofluoric acid this being.

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