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topic 18182

Plates for Oil Storage Tanks


Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing a short story based on my experience during the 70's working as a security guard for a company that built oil storage tanks. At the facility where I worked they prepared steel plates. The most important part of this process seemed to be dipping these plates in one or both of two baths that I assumed was very caustic. Could you tell me what was in these tanks? Would it dissolve human flesh but not gold?

Jerome Tovo
- Newe York, New York


It is very hard to dissolve gold; probably only aqua regia (nitric acid plus hydrochloric acid) will do it. So if your book claims hot sodium hydroxide (caustic soda, lye) as the cleaning material it will be sound and, yes, it can dissolve a human body but not gold.

However, I think most books and novels exaggerate in their portrayal of the speed of dissolution; it would probably take many hours if not many days for anything I can think of to actually dissolve a human being. Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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