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8 Things Breaking Bad Taught Us About Science

8. How To Dispose Of Bodies

What happened in the show: Potentially one of the grossest scenes in the entirety of Breaking Bad, Jesse attempts to dispose of a body by submerging it in hydrofluoric acid. Walt warned him to store the reactive acid in a particular type of plastic, but of course Jesse knew better and went ahead and put the body and acid in a bathtub. The body was reduced to a gooey mess, and the acid also ate through the bathtub and the floor below it. The clean-up process was grim. Could it really happen? Probably, but unsurprisingly it wouldn€™t be pleasant. Even highly concentrated hydrofluoric acid is considered a relatively weak acid; a solution of this acid does not fully dissociate (split into hydrogen and fluoride ions) in water. That€™s not to say it isn€™t dangerous; it can corrode metal and can even eat away at the bonds in glass, so it€™s definitely able to dissolve a body. The weak nature of the acid would mean it would require time to dissolve a body though, and whether it would ever dissolve it to the human soup we saw in the show is another question. The fumes that come off concentrated hydrofluoric acid can damage lungs and cause blindness, so the main problem (we€™re skipping over the morality of everything here), would be getting close to an acid so highly concentrated and not doing serious damage to yourself in the process.
Contributor
Contributor

I have a pet hedgehog, I like to bake and I do science for a job.