Fat tissue beneath the skin begins to saponify (turn into soap). This hardening, which takes a minimum of a few weeks to develop, will keep the body in a relatively preserved state for many months. Unlike normal decomposi-tional changes, there is no green discoloration or significant bloating. The exterior of the body remains white and the outermost layers of the skin slip off.
For bodies totally submerged in cold water, adipocere will be evenly distributed over all body surfaces. Not all bodies having adipocere are found in water. For example, bodies found in plastic bags, which provide a moist environment, may also undergo this change. There may also be a differential development of adipocere depending on whether or not areas of the body are clothed.
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