Where Do Gold Teeth & Blood Go After Death?


(soft upbeat music) – I heard that when the
body is embalmed, right, they take the blood and they sell it to black market blood dealers
on the dark web in Columbia. Yeah, it’s a thing. It’s bad. Yeah, my buddy, Todd, he worked on the show Six Feed Under, and he told me you got to watch out for morticians stealing your teeth. Like, they’ll go in there with pliers, and they’ll pull out the gold teeth, and they’ll sell it to that store Zales. And then Zales, I mean, everything in that store
has dead people gold in it. – [Announcer] Every ring, every bracelet, every necklace, and
every pair of earrings. (record scratches)
– [Together] If only there was someone we could ask. (electric music) – The funeral industry has a bit of a reputation for secrecy, which means it’s not only difficult to find out exactly what
happens to our bodies behind the scenes when we die, but it’s also difficult to find out what happens to the
individual parts of our body that may have a different fate
than the rest of our bodies. Take, for example, what was one of my most popular videos ever on what happens to hip, knee, and breast implants after you die. Socket from a replacement
hip post cremation. (metal clinks) I’ll link that for you to watch next. But if you can believe
it, that was back in 2014 when I was still making videos
answering death questions in my living room. (soft music) ♪ I’m a 30-something woman
who is still doing YouTube ♪ ♪ That seems to be the life
I’ve decided for myself ♪ (soft music) Bit of a review for
well-educated deathlings, here’s what happens when
a corpse is embalmed. In a dead body, the blood
in the circulatory system is not circulating anymore. It’s just sitting there
like a stagnant pool because your heart isn’t pumping. That blood is then pushed out of the body by pushing in and replacing it with a formaldehyde-based solution. The idea is that this
formaldehyde solution will fix the tissues and keep the body
preserved a little longer. Now, the blood that’s been
displaced, kicked out, exits the body via an opened
vein, like a jugular vein. It runs down the table and
goes down a regular old drain, like the ones connected
to a sink or a toilet. And where does that drained blood go? – [Man] Deep beneath the city streets, down in the shadowy sewers,
lived the Teenage Mutant Ninja– – [Kids] Turtles! – Once the blood, water, and other waste, like poop and stomach
contents, for instance, from the embalming goes
into the sewer system, it then goes to a
wastewater treatment plant to be cleaned and sanitized. Then, it’s either released
into the environment or reused for water in factories or farms. At first, you might be like
um, Caitlin, is that safe? Corpse blood in our sewers? I need to speak to your manager! It’s not that I don’t understand hang ups about corpse blood. Aside from the horror aspect of it, it’s also been ingrained in
us that blood is dangerous. And to some extent, that’s not wrong. Living people can certainly transmit blood-bourne pathogens to each other. And while the Centers for Disease Control says the blood bank supply
in the United States is safer than it’s ever been, some diseases can still be transmitted by a blood or platelet transfusion. We all came of age in a modern
world full of modern diseases and modern scientific knowledge of transmitting those diseases, so we naturally fear
blood as a contaminant. And to be fair, when you
say the blood of the dead, it sounds pretty daunting. Cold, thick, rotting blood
doesn’t exactly scream safe. But if I had to handle some
random someone’s blood, I’d much rather handle
the blood of the dead than the blood of the living. The older, the deader, the better. That’s because most
pathogens can’t live more than a few hours in a dead body. Even the rare virus like AIDS that actually can live
for days inside a body after death can only survive for minutes once it leaves the body. Generally speaking, a dead
person’s diseased blood would have to be directly injected into a living person’s
blood stream to infect them. And yes, accidents can happen, and there have been bizarre situations. But just coming into contact with blood containing a pathogen won’t immediately infect you. Even for the embalmer standing right there as the blood is running down the table, we all know that the formaldehyde
in the embalming fluid is more dangerous for
embalmers than the body fluids. (classical music) But let’s be honest, dead
people blood doesn’t have to be diseased for us to be afraid of it. We do this all the time
with dead bodies in general, turning them and everything about them into an immediate health
hazard, which they’re not. Take it from me, that’s all I talk about. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend
drinking the blood. Is this video veering into a dark place? Blood fact, for a human, drinking too much blood is actually toxic. Excessive blood consumption, we’re talking more than
a couple of teaspoons, can lead to iron poisoning. Sorry vampires. (sad music) So even if pathogens somehow
made it into the sewer system and slithered their way into
a wastewater treatment plant, there is no way they’re
surviving the cleaning process. If you’re not worried about period blood going down the drain, please tell me you’re not, you don’t need to be
worried about corpse blood. (soft music) You might remember that Mary
Shelley kept her husband Percy’s calcified heart in her possession until the day she died, and that Napoleon’s desiccated phallus Carmen Sandiego’d around
the world only to end up in the possession of a
urologist in New Jersey. (laughing) But those aren’t tales
from the 21st century. These days, if you ask
your local funeral home to hand over the heart or member, will saying member stop this
video from being demonetized, no, nothing will stop this
video from being demonetized, harbor member of your loved one for you after they die, they
will decline that request. But what about teeth? In the 18th and 19the centuries, real human teeth were used for dentures, and where do you think
those teeth came from? (gasps) Puppies! (dog wines) No, it’s corpses. The answer is always corpses. While grave robbers would often steal the teeth of the recently deceased, an abundance of corpse teeth came from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, when Napoleon, he of the missing member, Napoleon’s French army was defeated by a British led army and a Prussian army. With so many young,
relatively healthy men dead on the battlefield, looters
eagerly descended upon the dead to extract high quality teeth for dentists willing to
pay for their trouble. Obviously, we’re not pulling corpse teeth to make dentures these days, but what about retrieving gold teeth from the jaw of a corpse
that’s going to be cremated. Why, there’s gold in them their mouths! You think there would be a
simple answer to this question. Remove tooth, burn corpse, hoard gold, but of course, it’s not that simple. First of all, your local funeral director or crematory operator can’t just go ripping Grandma’s gold
teeth out of her head. That’s illegal. And as a funeral director, I’m not licensed to practice dentistry, even if it probably wouldn’t
hurt Grandma that much, seeing as she’s dead. When families ask me if
they can get gold teeth back after a cremation, which honestly
doesn’t happen that often, my simple response is I
don’t feel comfortable extracting those teeth myself, but if you’d like to bring
in a dental professional, I’d be happy to work with you, give you access to Grandma, etcetera. And that’s where the
conversation usually ends because finding an oral
surgeon who’s even willing to do this kind of extraction is not easy. And let’s be honest, it’s not likely to make financial sense. Let’s do the numbers. The gold used in gold crowns
is not pure 24-carat gold. That would be way too soft. It’s amalgam, which
depending on the quality includes a percentage of gold, platinum, silver, and potentially indium, zinc, iridium, cobalt, or chromium. Usually you’re looking at 0.1
of an ounce of 16-carat gold. But it’s nearly impossible to tell without having the crown analyzed. You can’t just tell from a dental x-ray. So the average goldish
amalgam crown price wise is as little as $25, as much as $80, with an average of about $50. So you might be thinking cool, Grandma has like three gold crowns. That’s like 150 smacks. If you can find a dentist to extract those teeth
from Grandma’s body, you’re looking at paying in
the range of 650 to $800. I mean, you do you. If these are family
heirloom teeth somehow, I wholeheartedly support you. But you got to ask yourself,
is this all worth it? But what about just waiting
for the corpse to get cremated and then pulling the gold from the ashes? At the approximately
1800 degrees Fahrenheit it takes to cremate a body, the 16 to 18-carat gold in the crown is definitely going to melt. The lower quality the gold,
the lower the melting point. Once the gold liquefies and gets mixed in with the bone fragments, the two are indistinguishable. This may change with the rise of alkaline hydrolysis, or Aquamation, because all inorganic
matter is left behind after the process, so gold
crowns can be salvaged. In rare cases, you get a funeral director who goes off the rails,
like Megan Hess in Colorado, who stole gold teeth and
body parts, sold them, and used the profits to take
her family to Disneyland. But no transparent, reputable, and reasonably priced funeral home is going to be stealing teeth. As always, if you’re
still worried about this, what’s being done to your family member before burial or cremation, show up, spend time with the
body, see for yourself, give yourself peace of mind. As I always say, corpses aren’t scary. Living people are. I mean it. A few announcements for the class. We’ve revamped our Good Death Store. We have new artists, new
limited runs of clothing, new stickers, new products. We’re working on collaborations with charities in the next
couple of months, as well. Our Instagram @thegooddeathstore is a good place to
follow for those updates. The idea is that with Patreon, with our limited but
still present AdSense, and the Good Death Store, we’ll be able to pay the people who work with me to make all this happen and also consistently
make meaningful donations to groups and nonprofits that share our death positive values. See you next month for an
entire month on cadaver crimes. It’s going to be good. Subscribe, stay tuned, tell your mom. She loves cadaver crimes. This video was made
with generous donations from death enthusiasts just like you. (soft music) Okay, here we go. (groans) Am I right? Corpse blood in our sewers! It’s called Corpse Kathy. The older, the deader, the, nope. (laughs) Pause for whirly bird. Oh yeah, some whirly birds out today. All right, we’re ready
to move on to teeth, huh? Exciting. Puppies! Why is it hot? It’s not hot outside, it’s just hot in the prison of my mind. A big raven in the tree. Hi, raven. My sister! ♪ Seems to be the life
I’ve decided for myself ♪

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