Spontaneous Human Combustion

The Most Fiery Mystery in History

The Background

Spontaneous Human Combustion, or SHC, is when a person randomly catches fire. The first reported case was when a 15th century Italian knight named Polonus Vorstius vomited flames, and caught fire. He was reportedly drinking a heavy ale (Baidya, 2014). Another case was of Nicole Millet, the wife of an 18th century innkeeper. She was sleeping during the incident. Her husband woke to the smell of smoke, and he discovered her in ashes (Baidya, 2014).

The Facts and Commonalities

People have noticed many similarities while researching this phenomenon. People are generally elderly people who drink a fair amount. They are almost always unconscious, and they fall asleep next to an open flame (candle, or fireplace). Their torso is always in ashes, legs and arms are always left intact, and the head can be either. A final, very curious fact, is that the room is always left intact, except for a coating of a greasy, yellow substance (Radford, 2013)

The Wick Theory

Offered Explanations

There are many reasons provided to explain this occurance. The most popular is the Wick Theory. It says that because the body is like a candle, it can burn for a long time (Baidya, 2014). Some other less reasonable explanations are fire leynes (saying that the Earth has lines where this will most likely happen) (Haslam, 2015), sunspots (Radford, 2013), and intestinal methane igniting from energy dischares (Baidya, 2014). I think that these are just hoaxes, because even the wick theory doesn't work in test labs.