Putrefaction, is one of the natural processes, by which all organized bodies are dissolved, and reduced into what may be termed their original elements.
The bodies, most liable to putrefaction, are vegetables and animals, especially those abounding with juices ; but, if the latter be exhaled, or otherwise extracted, the former may be preserved for almost any length of time. The corruption of such substances may also be prevented by the addition of other matters, that tend either to harden the texture of the body, or to effect; an entire decomposition of parts ; in consequence of which they are converted into a state resembling that which results from spontaneous putrefaction ; so that this process cannot commence. Thus, various kinds of salts, acids, and ardent spirits, indurate the flesh of animals ; and are therefore advantageously employed for its preservation. Oils and gums operate in a similar manner ; as they exclude the air, which is in some degree essential to complete the process of putrefaction.— See Antiseptics.
In February, 1793, a patent was granted to the late Mr. John Donaldson, tor a new method of preserving animal and vegetable substances from putrefaction. His preservative is composed of wheat or barley-meal, and a solution of any common gum or vegetable mucilage. These ingredients are made into a paste, which is to be baked in the moderate heat of an oven, contrived for that purpose , so as to prevent it from either burning or forming a crust ; the dry mass is again reduced to a powder, which is now fit for use. The flesh, vegetables, etc, may be either raw, or dressed in such manner as may be found necessary : they are to be packed in wooden boxes, surrounded with the powder, and secluded from the external air.—By this method, it is stated, both animal and vegetable matters may be kept free from corruption, for an indefinite period of lime.