Turning Art into Science

Applying Chemistry to Funeral Service


What they are saying……

As the Embalming Chem instructor at Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science (PIMS) I recently introduced Damon and Robert’s book into my course as a suggested reading for our chemistry curriculum.  I am happy to report that not only did the statistical narrative demonstrate a strong performance by those who purchased the book, the qualitative feedback from the students was even more robust.  The stats from the first “run” of the course using the book showed us the students who purchased the book scored, on the average, one letter grade higher than those who did not!!!!

Consequently, as not only one of the Embalming course instructors, but also the Chief Academic Officer of PIMS I am “sold” on this book as an outstanding supplement to our Embalming core courses.  In short chemistry is a BIG part of what we do, in fact some could argue that understanding the applications of our chemistry and applying it correctly to the decedent care is akin to a doctor prescribing the “correct RX” to match the condition.  Moreover, while some of what we do in the technical orientation of the profession is a bit “rote” (e.g. raising arteries, suturing), there is NOTHING mundane about our choice of chemistry for each case entrusted to our care.  To that end, I would strongly recommend this book to all funeral service education instructors who want to enrich their student’s understanding of chemistry as it applies to our profession!

Kudos to Damon and Robert for delivering the well-written, easy to understand and student-friendly text book!!!!!!!!!


Dr. Barry T. Lease


For years I have scorned the fact that there is only a limited amount of resource material available on the topic of modern embalming. The chemistry that surrounds the art, although fundamental to the process itself is left to sidelines, unexplored and neglected. This publication meets these needs head on, exploring the chemistry that shapes our work in a clear and accessible manner. I have no doubt that this publication will become a corner stone in funeral education. A truly satisfying read...

Michael Clarke, Death care Academy of Ireland


 One could say that you diluted chemistry into a more palatable and effective concentration for your embalming students...

Claudette Delva, Technician, Willed Body Program, Anatomy Dept. at UCSF


Unit I


Dave McCament, AS, BS- Cypress College Mortuary Science Department

Kevin Gerzevske, PhD Organic Chemistry- University of California, Davis

Chemistry and the Funeral Service Practitioner

The Study of Matter

Atoms and Compounds

Molecules and Reactions

Water and Solutions

Postmortem pH Shift


Unit II


Gary Brown, LFD, MA- St. Petersburg College, Funeral Service and Arts

Donald Tzeng, PhD Organic Chemistry- University of Southern California


Funeral Service Chemicals

Antiseptics, Humectants and Cauterants

Preservatives and Disinfectants

Anticoagulants, Water Treatments and Fragrances

Decomposition Products

Putting It Together


Unit III


Jamye Cameron, MBA, CFSP-Lake Washington Funeral Service Education

Jack Lin, PhD Organic Chemistry- University of California, Davis


Introduction to Life

The Building Blocks of Life

The Engines of Life

The Fats of Life

The Structure of Life

The Energy of Life


Unit IV


Benjamin Schmidt, MS- Worsham College of Mortuary Science

Paula Fischhaber, PhD Biochemistry- University of Washington

Dennis Madison- OSHA Material Expert


The Brothers Mortis

Knowing What Can Kill You-Personal Protective Equipment

Turning Art into Science

Diluting Concentrated Embalming Fluid (The Math)

Life After Death

Building a Methylene Bridge





Selected Lectures