Man spontaneously combusts


Originally published at:


North Koreans testing a new secret weapon. John Nolan, eh? Sounds American to me.


Yeeeaahhhhh… That “spontaneous combusting” man wouldn’t happen to be a smoker and wore combustible clothes?


Hush now! Don’t ruin a good mystery with sensible skepticism.


I was terrified of spontaneous human combustion as a kid.

Yeah, I was more concerned if I’d ever eat again after the prior meal, but I get it.


That’s it, maybe he was a cross-dresser in period clothes…



Well, when they say they can’t find an accelerant, that just means they couldn’t find any unusual chemicals.
If the man was wearing potassium-doped, pure cotton slacks, or something, there would be little to no evidence yet he’d combust from a cigarette.

(is it potassium that burns? Or am I thinking of something else that’s commonly found in the body?)


A quick look at his CV reveals that he used to the drummer for an obscure rock band named " Spinal Tap"…


Magnesum, maybe, but it’s hard to start.


Before the incident he had been seen admiring the sunlight shining through the recently installed magnifying glass art installation across the street :


Potassium metal does combust immediately on contact with water, but there is no pure potassium metal naturally occurring. The body contains plenty of potassium ions, but those are already oxidized.


the wick effect has never really been the explanation for how these fires start. but for why they burn the way they do. Near complete combustion, leaving eirily severed body parts. With out the fire spreading much.

A lot of the cases from back in the day were older folks. They seem to have fallen asleep or expired while smoking. Cigarettes being the source of the fire. But these days were hearing more about faulty batteries in electronics. E cigarettes, cellphones. There have been a few cases where it was chemical. Either a flamable substance on the cloth catching a spark or ember. Or thing like linseed oil that can autoignite do to a chemical reaction. I remember hearing about a guy who basically accidentally covered himself in thermite. A couple of different paints or what have he was working on supposedly combined into thermite on his pants. He caught a spark and went up like a bottle rocket.

There’s some sort of ignition here. Even if it’s just a stray spark or cigarette ember that wouldn’t leave much sign. I’ve had the sleeve of a cotton shirt go up after a hot spark started a little smoldering spot while I was using a bench grinder. Didn’t notice at first, then my arm felt a little warm and as I looked down there was a little burst of Flame.


Hard to say which presented the greater existential threat to children of the 70s, spontaneous human combustion or quicksand.


Obligatory Spinal Tap Drummer Spontaneous Combustion clip

As I said, obligatory.


Maybe he was a meta human with a bummer of a super power?

“It’s Spontaneous Human Combustion Man!”


Pure potassium or sodium, etc. do burn. Some compounds like sodium chlorate are flammable as well - there was the “exploding trousers” phenomenon in New Zealand in the '30s - the chemical was sprayed on weeds, got on clothes, dried and friction did the rest.


Isn’t there some adage out there that says, “When unable to logically explain an event or phenomenon, fall back on pulling any old unproven, kook-fringe explanation from one’s ass”?


Nah. Nolan didn’t die from having been stir-fried.


Exploding trousers?!