Embalming is a process that helps conserve a dead body for a temporary period. It helps in displaying the body at a public funeral, without looking too disturbing to the people who come to pay their last respects. This fluid is used for sanitization, presentation, and preservation of the body. It contains many chemicals that help to achieve the above three processes. Although this subject sounds somewhat disturbing, the process is mandatory by law in many countries.
Embalming fluid is made up of different agents that help in disinfecting, sanitizing, and preservation of a body. This cocktail of chemicals help in preventing the decomposition of the body for a temporary period of time. It also helps in making the body appear natural after death. Mostly, it is used to preserve the body till the funeral ceremony is complete. In rare cases, it is also used for permanent preservation of the body.
It is generally made up of the following compounds:
- Formaldehyde (5 to 29%)
- Methanol (9 to 56%)
- Other solvents
Injecting it in the Body
A professional embalmer is called upon to carry out this process. After completing the required paper formalities, he takes the body to the funeral home for embalming. He places little cotton pieces beneath the eyelids for closing them. Eye caps are placed on each eyeball, and the mouth is closed with the help of a suture string. After completing all the processes that help to improve the overall look of the body, the embalmer begins with arterial embalming. The fluid is injected into an artery, and blood is drained from a vein. A syringe is used to inject the chemicals in different parts of the body. After the fluid is injected into the body, the tubes are removed, and the veins are tied.
Next, the embalmer begins cavity embalming. The fluids in the internal organs of the abdomen and thoracic cavity are suctioned out. This is done by making a puncture in the organs like stomach, bladder, lungs, and the large intestine. All the gases and fluids present in the organs are drained out. Then, a strong mixture of formaldehyde is injected into the body's torso. The body and hair are washed clean to remove any traces of residual fluid. Makeup is applied on the face, hands, and neck. The body is made to wear clothes given by the family, and laid into the casket.
How does it Work
The fluid begins to denature the cellular proteins. This prevents bacteria from using these proteins as their source of food. Also, the chemicals present kill most of the bacteria that cause decomposition of the body. The tissue cells are fixed with the help of formaldehyde that help in giving an appearance, as if blood is flowing under the skin.
Many times, the funeral homes need to preserve the body for several days, till the process of viewing is complete.