Steam Kettle Skeletal Preparation An Efficient Method for Processing Human Remains

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Kerianne Armelli
Erica R. Christensen
Carolyn Isaac
Jered Cornelison


This paper presents methods for the disarticulation and steam kettle maceration of embalmed and non-embalmed decedents for forensic casework and curation in anatomical collections. As steam kettles are becoming more commonly used, details on infrastructure and necessary tools for steam kettle maceration are included. This technique was developed over the course of four years of steam kettle use for forensic anthropological casework and full body anatomical donation macerations for Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine’s (WMed) Body Donation Program. Steam kettle maceration efficiently processes decedents and results in high quality skeletal specimens with little to no damage. Furthermore, this method has the advantage of requiring minimal disarticulation, no chemical agents, and minimal intervention or attention by the processor.

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