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euclid
04-01-2010, 01:19 AM
Who can tell me what a dead body smells like? I know from books I've read that it's not pleasant, but can anyone describe it?

scarletpeaches
04-01-2010, 01:20 AM
How ripe is it?

Nivarion
04-01-2010, 01:23 AM
Take a chunk of raw pork and put it in Tupperware for the time you want the corpse to be sitting.

Open it.

Ewwwwww.

but seriously. yeah, like that.

euclid
04-01-2010, 01:24 AM
How ripe is it?

Give me a range for answers to suit every possible ripeness. :)

scarletpeaches
04-01-2010, 01:26 AM
You must know how old the corpse is, surely?

I only know what a fresh kill smells like.

Chris P
04-01-2010, 01:34 AM
They use pigs to mimic humans in forensic studies, so the pork chop/tuperware trick will work. I know room temp pork left about 18 hours will have a sweet smell (unless it's dried out - in which case it doesn't smell of much), and by 36 hours smells putrid, especially if enclosed and moist.

It might also make a difference if the body was outside or inside, had been burned, thrown in the lake, etc.

Shadow_Ferret
04-01-2010, 01:35 AM
Ever come upon road kill on a hot summer's day?

Anyway, there's a reason cops put Vaporub under their noses at some crime scenes.

Heck, down the block a neighbor died and no one reported it until there was "this smell." It was so bad they had to use Hazmat suits to go in and remove the guy. Well.... they actually removed the couch he'd seeped into.

Anyway, the meat in the tupperware thing... I've found things in the back of the refrigerator that had been there for months. Upon opening it... well, I can't describe the smell, but it immediately made me gag. Forcefully.

Chris P
04-01-2010, 01:37 AM
Heck, down the block a neighbor died and no one reported it until there was "this smell." It was so bad they had to use Hazmat suits to go in and remove the guy. Well.... they actually removed the couch he'd seeped into.

This. Happened to a relative of mine who'd been gone about 72 to 96 hours. It was Florida and warmish, it would have taken longer if it were cold.

backslashbaby
04-01-2010, 01:42 AM
There are some vegetables that have a bit of the scent when they go very, very bad. Cooked beans put in with your pork might be even better.

But I can't describe the actual smell. Just worse than any smell you can imagine, in a meat or veggies gone vilely bad way -- times 20.

euclid
04-01-2010, 01:45 AM
They use pigs to mimic humans in forensic studies, so the pork chop/tuperware trick will work. I know room temp pork left about 18 hours will have a sweet smell (unless it's dried out - in which case it doesn't smell of much), and by 36 hours smells putrid, especially if enclosed and moist.

It might also make a difference if the body was outside or inside, had been burned, thrown in the lake, etc.

So what does putrid smell like?

Nivarion
04-01-2010, 02:13 AM
So what does putrid smell like?


It's quite difficult to describe. If I remember right the last time I smelled it it was salty and strong and smelled like vomit.

It'll be gross but the Tupperware trick is your best bet to know exactly what it'll smell like. Especially if you take the time to create the right environment for it. maybe add a fly or two for maggots.

okay. Should not have described that whilst eating.

Synonym
04-01-2010, 02:15 AM
A dense, cloying scent that coats the back of your throat, burns and immediately prompts the gag reflex. Your only thought is to get away, as soon a possible to find fresh air. The urge to gag is probably ingrained into our species by evolution, a warning--don't eat this.

It's hard to describe accurately, since who wants to stick around pondering the nuances? I would say at the very edges of the scent there is a sweetness that is quickly overpowered by the combination of body gases and waste. All I can say is it's vile. (No, I haven't been around a dead human but I have been too near a dead hog.) And also, don't neglect the visual. The combination of sight and smell are overpowering.

Rowan
04-01-2010, 02:20 AM
PM C.M. Daniels. He's a coroner/has observed forensic autopsies/been to crime scenes and I'm sure he can give you some 411 on this... :)

jclarkdawe
04-01-2010, 03:01 AM
See Smell of a Corpse (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=149107&highlight=smell) where we had this discussion a few months ago.

Realize that with a decomposing body you not only have the smell of decomposition (rotten meat), but the bowels as well. Length of time and conditions are important here.

If you want more than I said in the above thread, send me a PM. I've recovered several bodies, and know firefighters who have done the same. You give me a description of what your plot needs and I can give you a good guess as to how bad the corpse will be, in details that may cause you to have nightmares.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

shaldna
04-01-2010, 12:29 PM
I do worry about the things we talk about sometimes.

Although I'm glad we have this forum. I'd hate to have ask people face to face about thses things.

RJK
04-01-2010, 05:57 PM
It's difficult to describe any smell. You always answer by saying it smell like a ... and compare the smell to something familiar. A rotting corpse doesn't smell like anything but rotting meat. Put a pound of raw, uncured bacon in a paper sack and leave it sit at room temperature for the same number of days your corpse was supposed to lay dead. Open the sack and take a whiff.

shaldna
04-01-2010, 06:00 PM
It's difficult to describe any smell. You always answer by saying it smell like a ... and compare the smell to something familiar. A rotting corpse doesn't smell like anything but rotting meat. Put a pound of raw, uncured bacon in a paper sack and leave it sit at room temperature for the same number of days your corpse was supposed to lay dead. Open the sack and take a whiff.


But before it starts to rot it gets that peculiar sweet smell about it which is almost worse..

Nivarion
04-01-2010, 07:09 PM
Well, in response to your rep points question. I'd keep it in the back yard, well away from the house. With a tight lid so that the smell doesn't get out until you're ready.

And use a disposable Tupperware. You won't want to wash that.



I do worry about the things we talk about sometimes.

Although I'm glad we have this forum. I'd hate to have ask people face to face about thses things.

hehehe. You think this is bad? We had one where I calculated how many meals you could make from the average human body. Now that was an awkward one to answer.

RobinGBrown
04-01-2010, 07:20 PM
and it was a surprsingly large number

jclarkdawe
04-01-2010, 07:27 PM
Understand that a pound or two of rotten meat only gives you a faint whiff of the smell of a full grown corpse. The power of the smell is incredible. Personally, I'm not sure it's describable. You want to gag when you're fifty feet away. It can take years for the smell to leave a house. It just lingers in the background. Cars are totalled by the insurance company for the odor. And the guy driving the wrecker can't drive fast enough to get away from the smell.

It gets on your skin and clothes. (People use bio-suits for body removal for a reason.) Maggots abound, fluids abound, and I've never read a good description of the experience. No matter how well you write, it will be but a pale imitation of the experience.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

backslashbaby
04-01-2010, 08:35 PM
Yep, I've smelled small dead animals up close [hideous], but the only human smell I experienced wafted up from a very steep ravine. I was really not close to it. And you'd catch it on the breeze back at the house, a good 2 football fields away.

The folks who thought is wasn't a dead man (long story, in Costa Rica, with vultures ;)) thought a big cow must've died down there.

I'd also add that I don't think it smells only like rotting meat. It must be the bowels or what was eaten, etc, but there are other foul smells mixed in with it. Blood, maybe? Dunno, but it's a special kind of awful ;)

Kitty27
04-01-2010, 10:16 PM
Rotten eggs,feces,and a used toilet left out for a month x 1000. It is unholy.


The smell gets into your throat and you can taste it. You will literally run to find some clean air. Even then,it lingers and you can't quite get the smell away. Even though you can no longer physically smell it,you remember it and it takes quite awhile to get over it.

Chris P
04-01-2010, 10:25 PM
Now my intellectual curiosity is running rampant. The rotten meat smell is due to the high content of sulfur amino acids in muscle tissue. But fat is mostly lipid, containing phosphorous bridges and long chain fatty acids. Would the corpse smell differently if the person was obese?

Incidentally, these sulfur amino acids are the reason the feces of a vegetarian smell differently than some who eats meat. Change your dog's food for a week and you'll get an idea of how food changes that.

Okay, sorry. Hope nobody's eating lunch right now.

C.M. Daniels
04-06-2010, 09:24 AM
I'm going to put on my coroner hat :e2crown:.

Honestly, it depends on how long someone has been dead and the conditions they've been in while decomposing.

Most fresh bodies don't have much of a smell at all. If you've got an extremely sensitive nose, you'll start to notice some very very slight differences in a couple of hours. That's the bacteria from the GI tract starting to eat stuff up and create methane.

If the body is cold and dry, it might not smell for days. If it's hot that's a different story. If it's hot and humid, all bets are off. If someone is obese it makes a difference than if they're underweight. Certain medications and conditions can make a body smell a little different. Some skeletal remains have no odor and others can reek with the smell of decay.

Overall, I think ripe corpses smell like a combination of sweet, decayed leaves, bodily excretions, sweat, rotten meat, rancid fat, and stuffy humidity. It's a fat-based particulate odor that gets into your pores. It's hard to wash off. You pretty much have to sweat it out. I've found that leather almost never loses that smell (but then I've got a nose like a bloodhound) and unless you want your nice dress shoes to smell like corpse, keep an old pair in the trunk to change into.

Animal decay smells different than human decay. It's not totally different, but a dog has a mustier smell than a human.

Embalmed bodies are entirely different than anything discussed above. Though the preservative and chemical smells only last so long before nature finally takes over.

PM me if you have any other questions or want me to clarify something.

Happy writing!

euclid
04-06-2010, 12:52 PM
Apologies to everyone for re-inventing the wheel. If I had better skills using the forum search I could have avoided creating this whole thread!:e2paperba

scottishpunk
04-07-2010, 01:36 AM
*Warning! Gross-Out Alert!*

I actually once hit the bloated, rotten carcass of a squirrel when I was mowing the grass at a country club. (The grass was really tall... I couldn't tell what the thing was until after I'd hit it.) I came very very close to throwing up.

It was so bad my brother and I couldn't do any more work ANYWHERE on the property that day. The reek was spread into the neighborhood. (Fortunately the pool wasn't yet open for the summer, but I feel sorry for the nearby houses.) We high-tailed it out of there, and didn't return till the next day when the stench had dissipated.

If the body of a little squirrel was that bad... I can only imagine how a human corpse would be. Ugh.

veinglory
04-07-2010, 05:01 AM
Even after 12 hours of or so you can smell it if you know what you are "smelling" for. Any dead animal in warm conditions will quickly smell. I would describe it is musky, sour, smokey--at lower levels you feel it right at the back of your nose.