Professor Walther Thiel, an Austrian, developed an embalming process for medical cadavers. His process requires much less formaldehyde than conventional embalming fluids and, also, produces a much more ‘lifelike’ body with none of the hardness and stiffness associated with conventional embalming. Medical people are very keen on it — those who know about it. It’s only been around since 1992 and, because the technique is described in German, it hasn’t made itself particularly well-known.
Soft embalming is a technique which relies on a mixture of salt compounds and very low amounts of volatile formaldehyde and formalin to effect fixation of tissue with a number of unique properties. Cadavers preserved with the Thiel Method have no detectable odor, a lifelike flexibility of body parts, excellent color preservation of muscle, viscera, and vasculature, and superior antimicrobial preservation properties. [Source]
They’re using it at the University of Dundee, the first place in the UK to opt for it. They’re doing so in anticipation of EU laws restricting the use of formalin, which is reckoned a carcinogen. They are delighted by the results.
We wonder how many embalmers are aware of Thiel embalming. In terms of presentation alone, it would seem to do a much better job than the conventional method.
Do have a look at the video on the Univ Dundee site, which shows a Thiel-embalmed cadaver, and see for yourself how much better it is.
If it’s safer, too, there would seem to be a strong argument for it.
But would it work as well if the embalming mixture is used in the far lower concentrations required by the funeral industry.
What do we know? If you know anything, do tell us.
(Apologies to born-again anti-embalmers.)