Hydrofluoric acid has an even more detrimental effect that can affect many internal structures. Dangers of Hydrofluoric Acid to Human Health. Another option would have been the potassium form of lye, potassium hydroxide. A man is turned into water vapour. However, the measure of an acid's strength is its ability to donate protons. 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. His cells are in a billionth of a second, hotter than the surface of the Sun. Hydrogen fluoride readily dissolves in water to form colorless hydrofluoric acid solutions; dilute solutions are visibly indistinguishable from water. If the lye mixture is heated to boiling, tissue can be dissolved in a matter of hours. It is present in a variety of over-the-counter products at concentrations of 6% to 12%. Can Corpses Really be Dissolved in Hydrofluoric Acid? 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. After writing an answer on worldbuilding.SE, I came here to ask a question. Certain plastics, like in the show, resist its corrosion, as well as the noble metals (gold, platinum, etc.). Fatalities have been reported from a skin exposure to as little as 2.5% of body surface area. In production of fluorides. 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. An aqueous solution of gaseous hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid with a p Ka value of 3.19. evaporating fumes will dissolve any living organism in vapor. 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). Noble metals can be dissolved with aqua regia (nitro-muriatic acid). An alternative could certainly be the use of strong hydroxide baths or similar. Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. [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. Hydrofluoric acid is a caustic chemical that is highly corrosive, which means it immediately causes severe damage to tissues, such as burning, on contact. Can hydrofluoric acid really dissolve a body? Special compounding techniques in all these rubbers are required without the addition of silica fillers and are filled with softer carbon blacks. 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. Please note that to comment on an article you must be registered and logged in. Additional resources. Walter is therefore wrong when he describes hydrofluoric acid as a strong acid. People who dissolve bodies in their homes this way would likely become dead bodies themselves. However, Jesse disregards Walter's instructions about using a plastic container, instead choosing to pour the acid onto the body placed in a bathtub. This is significant since hydrofluoric acid will not only dissolve human flesh, but will also dissolve porcelain. Sulfuric hydrofluoric acid. The carborane superacids are over a million times stronger than concentrated sulfuric acid, yet they don't attack human or animal tissue. So citric acid, the acid in lemon juice is actually a stronger acid than HF. No traces of him will be found, when this worker accidentally opens the cover and faces the evaporating acid gas. Not only will this acid dissolve your body, but it will also release toxic gasses such as volatile … In addition to being a highly corrosive liquid, hydrofluoric acid is also a powerful contact poison. Hydrogen fluoride can be released when other fluoride-containing compounds such as … It is usually in liquid form. If you would like to reuse any content, in print or online, from ChemistryViews.org, please contact us first for permission. Hydrofluoric acid is a chemical that is a very strong acid. 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...\"). When hydrogen fluoride is dissolved in water, it may be called hydrofluoric 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) It can exist as a colorless gas or as a fuming liquid, or it can be dissolved in water. 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. Is it going out on a limb to suspect that most chemistry teachers don't keep big jugs of hydrofluoric acid in their labs? The separation process for ascertaining the metals contained in biological materials employs nitrous acid (HNO3) [14]. It is an extremely corrosive liquid and vapor that can cause severe injury via skin and eye contact, inhalation, or ingestion. Registration is for free, you may already be registered to receive, e.g., the newsletter. 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. Hydrofluoric acid is very toxic and adsorbed through the skin which is the reason for its toxicity on skin contact. 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. Is HF (Hydrofluoric Acid) a Strong Acid or a Weak Acid? 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. As an acid it is relatively weak with a pKa = 3.17. He told his partner-in-crime, Jesse, to use a plastic bin for dissolving the body, but didn't tell him why. Flexible ebonite (semiebonite) can withstand up to 50% and butyl can withstand up to 60% hydrofluoric acid. Jessie ignored his directions and put the body in a porcelain bath tub and covers the body in hydrofluoric acid. 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. Firstly, an oxidizing acid seems more suitable for destroying organic tissue. Incidents involving hydrogen fluoride, or hydrofluoric acid, are not common, but the consequences of exposure to this compound by any means can be devastating. Walt apparently keeps plenty on hand, and use some to aid in disposing of a body. 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… 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. Even so, it is not a "strong" acid because it does not completely dissociate in water. Soft natural rubber can resist hydrofluoric acid up to 10% at ambient temperature. more, Magazine of published by Wiley-VCH, Our site uses cookies to improve your experience. An aqueous solution of gaseous hydrofluoric acid only forms a weak acid with a pKa value of 3.19. The addition of hydrochloric acid or hydrofluoric acid is recommended to deal with especially resistant matrices. a mix of nitric and hydrochloric acid, but even this has limits. https://www.thoughtco.com/most-dangerous-acids-in-the-world-603644 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 weak disassociation allows it to be absorbed through the skin as the intact molecule. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing, breathing in, or touching hydrofluoric acid. When you register on this website, please ensure you view our terms and conditions. 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 … 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. It is correct, however, that it has the ability to attack silicon-based compounds, such as glass and ceramics. 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. British murderer John … This acid is so corrosive because its fluorine ion is highly reactive. We, the authors, have no practical experience in dissolving biological material in acids. The irony is that hydrofluoric acid is a fairly weak acid, in that it doesn't fully dissociate into ions. All comments are subject to moderation. Fluorocarbons such as Teflon (TFE and FEP), chlorosulfonated polyethylene, natural rubber, and neoprene all are resistant to hydrofluoric acid. The very strongest acids in the world do this without being corrosive. Hydrofluoric acid attacks the silicon oxide in most types of glass. The carcass is reduced to a brownish sludge, leaving only brittle bones. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. You may be thinking the best way to rid yourself of a corpse is to use the strongest acid you can find. Hydrogen fluoride is a colorless, fuming liquid or gas with a strong, irritating odor. The fumes from reacting large quantities of either hydrofluoric acid or a hydroxide would have been overwhelming to our buddies from "Breaking Bad." ... 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. When the researchers added water, … How long would it take to dissolve a human body using fluoroantimonic acid? It also dissolves many metals (not nickel or its alloys, gold, platinum, or silver), and most plastics. It is usually shipped in steel cylinders as a compressed gas. Even when dilute it will etch glass and ceramics, but it won't dissolve or burn flesh. 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. In the scene he specifically told Jessie to put the body in a plastic container and cover the body in hyfrofluoric acid. 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 … She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. We would welcome contributions to the discussion of this topic. Hydrofluoric acid is very nasty stuff, but it isn't a strong acid. Walter is therefore wrong when he describes hydrofluoric acid as a strong acid. This is because we generally equate "strong" with "corrosive." Citric acid has a pKa = 3.13. You can find out more about our use of cookies in our, Bridge Science and the Public – Interview with Donna Nelson, Destroying Crystals as a Possible Gout Treatment. However, the method described in Breaking Bad would seem to require some improvement. Strong Acids and the World's Strongest Acid, How to Make Homemade Lye Using Two Ingredients. 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). It is correct, however, that it has the ability to attack silicon-based compounds, such as glass and ceramics. Hydrofluoric acid has not been reported to be a human carcinogen. They immersed the carcasses in an acid bath and discovered it took days for bodies to dissolve in sulfuric acid. Hydrofluoric acid, in vapor, can cause terrible damage to the lungs. ... and diffuse through the membranes of human cells. Acids can dissolve a body more completely than lye—liquefying even the bones and teeth—but it takes longer and can be hazardous. Hydrofluoric acid is corrosive stuff. Hydrofluoric acid is a clear, colorless liquid, miscible with water, with an acrid, irritating odor. Arrhenius, Brønsted-Lowry, Lewis… chemists have many ways to define and distinguish acids from bases. Seamens CM, Seger DL, Meredith T. 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