An Oregon man who died this June in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park actually dissolved when he fell into the spring’s boiling acidic water, according to a report released due to a Freedom of Information Act request from KULR. The death is just as gruesome as it sounds when you take a look at what acid can do to the human body.  

Earlier this year, Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, of Portland Or. died after falling into a hot spring at Yellowstone, Time reported. Scott and his sister were reportedly looking for a place to soak in the park’s streaming waters, an act which is forbidden, and for good reason. According to the newly released information, rescue rangers were unable to retrieve Scott's body from the pool due to a lightning storm. Unfortunately, when the rangers returned the next day to retrieve the remains, they realized they had dissolved in the acidic water.

“In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving,” Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress told KULR.

Some hot springs have organisms in them which convert natural gas found in the spring into sulfuric acid, which gives the water its acidic qualities. Scientifically speaking, water is classified as being acidic when it has a PH level below 7.0, with those closer to one being the most acidic. Although it's not clear which specific spring Scott fell into, the acidic springs at Yellowstone have a PH of between 2 and 3, and variable levels of sulfate concentration.

From a chemical standpoint, acid reacts with the skin to hydrolyze the fats in the skin. This removes the water from the living tissue which causes an exothermic reaction, similar to a burn. Children are more susceptible to chemical burns because their skin is usually more hydrated than adults. Although bones have little water, acid decalcifies them, breaking them down.

According to Mental Floss, while it is possible to completely dissolve a body in acid, it can take some time. For example, in one experiment, scientists noted that it took about 12 hours for cartilage and muscles to liquefy in a vat of acid, but nearly two days for bones to completely vanish.

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