When mixing up materials to make a mummy, don’t forget the salt!
Natron, which was used in Ancient Egypt to preserve mummies, is a natural salt mixture containing sodium carbonate decahydrate (soda ash), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium chloride (table salt), and another salt called sodium sulfate. Salt is a dessicant, which is a chemical that removes water from things. It also has anti-microbial properties, which means it kills bacteria and fungi. When you remove water and microbes from the picture, mummies bodies’ don’t decompose.
Today on WCOO, we mummified some apples, hot dogs and even a game hen, which is like a small chicken. Here’s an old post on how to mummify apples.
First, we’ll weigh everything we’re going to mummify, so we can see how much water weight they lose during the dehydration process.
We’ll rinse and blot the game hen with alcohol to kill some of the microbes on the outside, add aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves, and put it in a container filled with a 50-50 mix of baking soda and salt (Kosher salt or table salt will work), where we’ll let it sit for about 40 days, changing the salts once or twice over that time period.
Real mummies are coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota! Mummies: New Secrets of the Tombs opens at the Science Museum of Minnesota on February 19. The exhibition, which features mummies from the preeminent collection of the world-renowned Field Museum in Chicago, juxtaposes ancient specimens with the modern science that has given us new glimpses into ancient Egyptian and Peruvian cultures.