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Published: April 27, 2022

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.

To request any Alconox Inc. detergents for free, please complete the questionnaire at Get Sample. For more information about any one of our Alconox Inc. detergents, consult the technical bulletin for each product. Or click here to access each of our detergent’s  Safety Data Sheets.

Do you have a critical cleaning question for the experts at Alconox Inc.?  Search TechNotes to see if it’s been answered before or Ask Alconox.

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