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ANTHROPOLOGY, FORENSIC PATHOLOGY
Tissue that has undergone a type of decomposition in which subcutaneous tissue is converted to a firm cast of waxy fat. It occurs when an unembalmed body is left in cold wet ground–or cold acidic water, for a month or more.
Moisture is often present at the onset and initially some warmth. The process may be triggered by Clostridium perfringens which, as it produces lecithinase, facilitates hydrolysis and hydrogenation.
Chemical pathology This tissue is rich in palmitic, oleic, and stearic fatty acids and some glycerol.
The smell has been described as earthy, cheesy and ammoniacal.
Synonyms Corpse wax, grave wax, mortuary wax