A preliminary investigation of the stages of adipocere formation

S.L. Forbes, B.H. Stuart, Ian Dadour, B.B. Dent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Adipocere is a postmortem decomposition product which forms from a body's adipose tissue. This study aimed to chemically demonstrate the process of conversion from adipose tissue to adipocere. Samples of adipocere were collected from pig cadavers that were allowed to decompose for varying intervals. Samples of soil were collected from beneath the cadavers and analyzed to determine the leaching effect of adipocere. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was used to quantify the fatty acid composition of pig adipocere. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used as a confirmatory test and to identify other components such as triglycerides and calcium salts of fatty acids. The study demonstrates the process of adipocere formation and the stages of formation through which the process passes using chemical techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-574
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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