Mysterious Britain Forums

for the open discussion of all things paranormal.
HomeHome  Mysterious Britain mainpageMysterious Britain mainpage  Mailing ListMailing List  CalendarCalendar  FAQFAQ  MemberlistMemberlist  UsergroupsUsergroups  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  


 spontanious human combustion (SHC)

Go down 


Number of posts : 122
Age : 44
Registration date : 2008-01-13

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_minipostedSun 13 Jan 2008, 4:15 pm

hought i would give this subject a go,as it has been classed as a unexplainable phenomenon in the past..(please delete if its not within the site subject catagory)

what are peoples views on this...
there seems to be little documentation on shc...

the known cases all seem to have similarities of events.

do you think a human can combust,do you believe its a genuine phenomenon,or the result of carlessness with flammable sources.

Spontaneous Human Combustion is a phenomenon in which a human body purportedly catches fire as a result of heat generated internally by some type of chemical reaction. This phenomena has been reported for hundreds of years. Indeed, belief in the past was that if a person possessed too much anger or drank too much brandy, he or she might burn to death internally - literally combusting into ash within a matter of minutes!

And what about the images of a burned body with feet or hands left intact? The answer to that question may have something to do with the temperature gradient -- the idea that the top of a seated person is hotter than the bottom. This is basically the same phenomenon that occurs when you hold a match with the flame at the bottom. The flame will often go out without provocation because the bottom of the match is cooler than the top.

Finally, how does science account for the greasy stains left on walls and ceilings after a "spontaneous combustion"? They could simply be the residue that was produced when the victims' fatty tissue burned.

No one has ever conclusively proven or disproven the truth of spontaneous human combustion, but most scientists say that there are more likely explanations for the charred remains. Many of the so-called victims of spontaneous human combustion were smokers who were later discovered to have died by falling asleep with a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe. A number of them were believed to have been under the influence of alcohol or to have suffered from a movement-restricting disease that prevented them from moving quickly enough to escape the fire. Another possibility is that some of the fires and strange states of the victims' bodies were the result of a criminal act and subsequent cover-up.

but who knows so lets see what other beliefs are on this matter and maybe look into the evidence.

- The body is normally more severely burned than one that has been caught in a normal fire.

- The burns are not distributed evenly over the body; the extremities are usually untouched by fire, whereas the torso usually suffers severe burning.

- In some cases the torso is completely destroyed, the bones being reduced completely to ash.

- Small portions of the body (an arm, a foot, maybe the head) remain unburned.

- Only objects immediately associated with the body have burned; the fire never spread away from the body. SHC victims have burnt up in bed without the sheets catching fire, clothing worn is often barely singed, and flammable materials only inches away remain untouched.

- A greasy soot deposit covers the ceiling and walls, usually stopping three to four feet above the floor.

- Objects above this three to four foot line show signs of heat damage (melted candles, cracked mirrors, etc.)

- Although temperatures of about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit are normally required to char a body so thoroughly (crematoria, which usually operate in the neighborhood of 2,000 degrees, leave bone fragments which must be ground up by hand), frequently little or nothing around the victim is damaged, except perhaps the exact spot where the deceased ignited.

In 1938, a 22-year-old woman named Phyllis Newcombe was leaving a dance at the Shire Hall in Chelmsford, England. As she descended the staircase of the hall, her dress suddenly caught fire with no apparent cause. She ran back into the ballroom, where she collapsed. Several people rushed to her aid, but she later died in the hospital. Although the theory was that Newcombe's dress had been ignited by a cigarette or a lit match thrown from the stairwell, no evidence of either was ever found. Coroner L.F. Beccles commented on the incident, "From all my experience I have never come across a case so very mysterious as this."

In 1982, a mentally handicapped woman named Jean Lucille "Jeannie" Saffin was sitting with her 82-year-old father at their home in Edmonton, in northern London. According to her father, a flash of light caught his eye. When he turned to his daughter, he saw that her upper body was enveloped in flames. Mr. Saffin and his son-in-law, Donald Carroll, managed to put out the blaze, but Jeannie died of her third-degree burns about a week after entering the hospital. According to Carroll, "the flames were coming from her mouth like a dragon and they were making a roaring noise." There was no smoke or fire damage in the room. Some have wondered if an ember from her father's pipe ignited Jeannie's clothing.


Alchoholism - many Spontaneous Human Combustion vicitms have been alcoholics. But experiments in the 19th century demonstrated that flesh impregnated with alcohol will not burn with the intense heat associated with Spontaneous Human Combustion.

Deposits of flammable body fat - Many victims have been overweight - yet others have been skinny.

Devine Intervention - Centuries ago people felt that the explosion was a sign from God of devine punishment.

An explosive combination of chemicals can form in the digestive system - due to poor diet.

Electrical fields that exist within the human body might be capable of 'short circuiting' somehow, that some sort of atomic chain reaction could generate tremendous internal heat.

Explanations for this strange but intriguing phenomena are varied and wide ranging. Some experts suggest that bacteria production in the gut of either internally combustible or external combustible gases may be to blame. Gases produced in the gut which might be externally ignited include: methane (Ch4), hydrogen (H2) and phosphane (Ph3), a.k.a. "phosphoretted hydrogen." A gas which in theory might be produced in the gut and combust internally on contact with oxygen is diphosphane (P2H4). Many victims of SHC are found with their stomachs as the seat of the fire which does add some weight to this theory.
the wick effect

Other theories include the "candle effect" whereby the victimís clothing serves as the wick and the victimís body fat the candle. The candle effect was eloquently demonstrated in August 1998 on the BBC science programme ĎQEDí. Dr. John de Haan, a forensic expert at the California Criminalistics Institute constructed a replica living room. In this room he placed a dead pig, wrapped in a blanket. He wanted to demonstrate that once the pig was set on fire using an accelerant, a prolonged, but low intensity blaze might indeed cause similar effects to those observed in cases of SHC. For example he managed to replicate a localised fire where the pigs extremities remained intact yet the bones crumbled when poked. Even though enough localised heat was produced to make the pigs bones "friable", surrounding objects in the replica room remained surprisingly untouched; except a lightly scorched table and partially melted plastic radio.

While the documentary produced a convincing explanation for SHC, it was still necessary to use an accelerant to ignite the pig. This is in conflict with many SHC cases where there is no such evidence of an ignition source. It also failed to explain the accounts of SHC survivors who claim that the fire originates from within the body and burns outwards. There is still some room for further investigation.

No satisfactory explanation of Spontaneous Human Combustion has ever been given. It is still an unsolved mystery

look forward to your replies......
Back to top Go down
View user profile


Number of posts : 217
Age : 42
Registration date : 2007-10-11

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: Re: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_minipostedMon 14 Jan 2008, 5:06 pm

As a chemist who tolled a lot on Peter Atkins' books (Physical Chemistry not diet..) I have always mantained an healthy skepticism about spontaneous combustion.
Every chemistry student is taught the "triangle of combustion" quite early: to have combustion you need an oxydizing agent (atmospheric oxygen will do nicely), fuel and an adequate temperature. Take away one of these corners and, just like a triangle, combustion cannot exist.
For a human body to burn "perfectly" the temperature must be extremely high because, plainly put, we are not matchsticks and jus applying a little heat won't do. And the main problem is always there: where does this temperature come from? Even a lightning strike is not enough to produce such a perfect combustion: victims are usually electrocuted or charred IF there are some particular circustances.
I also have a lot of problems with the whole "internal gas" theory. Our body is perfectly equipped to deal with organic gases resulting from digestion: after all we are basically herbivores adapted to a protein rich diet. Phospine (PH3) is an extremely poisonous, highly reactive gas and its presence in anymore than trace quantities would lead to acute poisoning before combustion. Diphosphine (P2H4) is just an interesting theoretic exercise. To start with it's even more thermally unstable than phosphine (I won't bore you any further with the details) and it's not easy to make: favotite methods include treating CaP with just-above-freezing, oxygen free water or passing PH3 through an electric discharge. Also it's slowly decomposed by water.
Sorry for the pedantry but Chemistry of the Elements is one of my passions.
Personally I think that most of these stories started with a coroner having difficulties explaining the exact causes of a fire and the story getting wilder with each retelling. Combustion is not an easy to understand science and, for what it matters, outside of closely monitored laboratory conditions is incredibly varied and bizarre.
Back to top Go down
View user profile


Number of posts : 122
Age : 44
Registration date : 2008-01-13

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: Re: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_minipostedTue 15 Jan 2008, 2:54 am

im certainly not stating you are wrong here,but there have also been witnesses to SHC, how wld you explain this,witnesses to the bodt bursting into flames for whatever cause,being reduced to ash,and no further scortching or burning of surrounding areas.

i at one pont thought it cld be in relation to
ball lightning,which iv since been told wld be impossible too.

maybe i shld try and dig up some cases of SHC,and see what we make of each case study.
Back to top Go down
View user profile

Number of posts : 88
Age : 51
Location : Carlisle, Cumbria
Registration date : 2007-08-29

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: Re: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_minipostedMon 26 May 2008, 9:47 am

Jenny Randles wrote a book on SHC cases. SHC featured in Bleak House to account for an alcoholics death - and was accepted by the audience of the time. Recent cases however look to other sources of SHC, as people of all ages have died under localised burning. The photo's of people burned to death in their homes, with limbs left intact and furniture unburnt are very strange. Firemen would no doubt come to more informed conclusions, but I think cases are very rare - the blue flame, and greasy residue do seem to crop up on occasion though - and I recall a man reporting how a blue flame shot from his belly, he put the flame out and survived. I don't think there are any reports of spontaneous combustion in animals though.
Back to top Go down
View user profile


Number of posts : 17
Age : 26
Location : Sydney, AUS
Registration date : 2007-10-02

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: Re: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_minipostedTue 29 Jul 2008, 12:42 am

I believe there was a telvision program on the subject ("Inside Spontaneous Combustion" or something like that) hosted by Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. Anyone know if it's possible to watch this or any other videos on the subject somewhere?
Back to top Go down
View user profile
Sponsored content

spontanious human combustion (SHC) Empty
PostSubject: Re: spontanious human combustion (SHC)   spontanious human combustion (SHC) Icon_miniposted

Back to top Go down
spontanious human combustion (SHC)
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
» Non-Human Dermatoglyphics and the Unusual

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Mysterious Britain Forums :: Mysterious Britain :: Other Mysteries-
Jump to: