Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC)

titch2k6

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I have written this post after a recent discussion on the matter at our latest group's meeting. I just wanted to put forward my theory and get other people's take on the subject. I will say now that I do not think that SHC is a paranormal phenomenon. However, this does not mean that I do not believe in the possibility of SHC from a scientific point of view.

Over the past 300 years, there have been 200 documented cases of human deaths through unexplained burning, wherein 94% of all cases, the torso, arms and head have been reduced to ash along with the bone structures. However, strangely enough, lower limbs have not been touched and show no sign of heat damage. The same can be said for materials around the corpses, including clothing articles, carpets and furniture apart from the immediate area where the corpse has settled.

To understand what might be going on with SHC, we need to go back to basics and look at what we need to start a fire - let us look at the Fire Triangle. This states that we require three elements for a fire to exist - A heat source for ignition, a fuel Source and an oxidizing agent. With these three elements in place, there exists the potential for fire (which is only a chemical reaction) to be generated.

So, firstly, let’s look at the obvious factor: The oxidizing agent.

Unless you spend your entire life inside a sealed bubble with gasses other than Oxygen, Nitrogen and some other elemental gases, you are surrounded by air. We even breathe it into our bodies and the gasses are even absorbed into our bloodstream - particularly Oxygen, which we require to survive at 21% by volume to maintain optimum stability, although the body can tolerate deviations in this. However, breathing in Oxygen at 17% by volume, we start to show the first symptoms of hypoxia and as the levels grow less, the symptoms get worse and more deadly until at less than 6% we enter unconsciousness and face death within minutes.

So, not enough Oxygen is very bad. What about too much?

Again, not very good for you. There is such a condition as Oxygen Poisoning and it can affect the brain. But more to the point, and bears significance to this discussion, our blood can absorb 200cc of Oxygen per litre, which is higher than the absorption rate of water. Too much Oxygen, such as the use of Oxygen masks, a byproduct of certain health supplements and medications, or hyperventilation can expand the limits of one's flammability.

Secondly, we need fuel to burn.

Unfortunately for us, that is our physical bodies. Now, despite the average adult human body being made up of about 60% water, the human body, under the correct conditions, burns very well. One of the main reasons for this is the supply of fat and oils we store within our bodies, which are predominantly stored in our torso, arms, buttocks and neck, (which many of us know only too well......). It is also a revealing fact that some oils have the tendency of self-ignition under the correct conditions. This includes certain monounsaturated oils (vegetable-based) that some of us consume on a regular basis. For example, Linseed Oil, particularly raw Linseed which is used as a health supplement, is a Class I hazardous oil in the realms of Oxidation reactions. How dangerous is raw Linseed Oil (more so to be used as a health supplement we take into our bodies)? Watch the video below:



Lastly, we need heat.

We need something to induce the ignition. Our bodies are always producing heat, mainly from the burning of fat stores. Most of the time, this heat level is maintained by our bodily mechanics, but sometimes, this mechanism fails us (potentially because we have become ill, or due to a thermoregulatory disorder) and our temperatures can rise well above normal levels. It is worth noting, as it bears relevance and taking our Linseed oil example from above, that in tests, the spontaneous heating effect of raw Linseed oil is favoured at temperatures from 24 °C to 44 °C. The normal core temperature of an adult is about 37°C.

So, scientifically, we possess within our bodies all the elements of the fire triangle that can react and result in fire production. Not only do we hold all the elements, but all of them can be found within the main areas of the body that tends to be the main affected area within reported SHC cases – the torso, arms, buttocks and neck. Is this a coincidence? I do not believe it is.

I believe SHC bodies burn with internal, flameless combustion (technically known as a 'combustion reaction') as opposed to a “bursting into flames” burning effect. If this was the case, then reported cases of SHC would see much more damage on surrounding areas from flames and heat dissipation. The heat generated from chemical reactive combustions can typically reach anywhere from 1000°C up to 2600°C depending on the medium. When considering that human bone has to burn at around 1600°C for approximately 2 hours to turn to ash (as proven through cremation studies), this would further support this theory. The heat generated at the core of the body would be retained within by surrounding organs, muscle and skin until it burned through the outer layers and would explain the limited damage seen at documented SHC sites.
 

Paulm

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i never thought of this phenomena being paranormal (just un-normal or un-common..lol) i always figured there would be an explanation such as a possible electrical discharge or some sort of static electricity of sorts... lightning strike etc...have the weather conditions been studied related to the occurrences that have happened?. temp, humidity, any similarities in climate regions etc...?...
 
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Lynne

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Titch you have given the most logical explanation I’ve ever read. This is one of my favorite topics and I will stop and read anything that comes up on it. I really don’t think we have the answer on why this occurs but you make a compelling theory on the how. The video was a good warning and something I was unaware of.