Q: I read an article in a trade publication about removing coffin wax from bone using an aqueous degreaser from your company. I can’t really find what product exactly they used.
A: Coffin wax or adipocere can also be known as corpse wax, grave wax or mortuary wax, is a wax-like organic substance formed by the anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of fat in tissue, such as body fat in corpses. The “degreaser” was likely tried and true Alconox® Powdered Precision Cleaner. As there will be both organic and bioorganic residues, we like to go with our Tergazyme® Enzyme-Active Powdered Detergent which has both powerful emulsifiers and protein enzymes to break down the proteinaceous residues involved. Which might be better depends on solely adipose residue or that plus a little tissue residue. Going with Tergazyme allows for better removal of protein and bioorganics.
We would recommend a warm not hot (130F/55C) solution of Tergazyme to avoid denaturing the enzymes. (If the Alconox detergent is used, temperatures above 130F/55C are fine and in fact recommended). Both detergents would be used at 2-3% concentration as coffin wax residue tends to be a little tougher than others. A thorough rinse and you have a residue-free surface, whether it be the bone or surrounding areas where the coffin wax may find it’s way.
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