Burned Flesh

You’ll know it when you smell it. Burning muscle tissue gives off an aroma similar to beef in a frying pan, and body fat smells like a side of fatty pork on the grill. But you probably won’t mistake the scent of human remains for a cookout. That’s because a whole body includes all sorts of parts that we’d rarely use for a regular barbecue. For example, cattle are bled after slaughter, and the beef and pork we eat contain few blood vessels. When a whole human body burns, all the iron-rich blood still inside can give the smell a coppery, metallic component. Full bodies also include internal organs, which rarely burn completely because of their high fluid content; they smell like burnt liver. Firefighters say that cerebrospinal fluid burns up in a musky, sweet perfume.

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