Chemical Scarification

Probably the rarest form of scarification, chemical scarification (like in Fight Club), is something that I hardly ever get to see… These are self-done by Zav in Bendigo, Australia, using masking tape to mark off and isolate the area. Four layers of paint strippers were used to eat away the skin, waiting about fifteen minutes between each application. A bit of skin would peel off with no bleeding. Pain was minimal at first but became more painful in later applications. A leathery scab (which Zav describes as similar to dried rabit skin) formed, and in the oldest photo it’s at 25 days (so I suppose this is one of the more successful scarifications of this type that I’ve seen).

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

19 thoughts on “Chemical Scarification

  1. While working in a body shops and doing body work on and off for almost 11 years I’ll confirm that some strippers will deffenitly leave some nasty sores if left on your skin, I wouldnt recommend using them just from the chemicals alone. I’m pretty sure they’d get in your blood stream. Not the safest way of doing it. Interesting idea though.

  2. I knew a guy who died from acetone exposure on his hands (stopped his heart) so I’ve always been weary about these sorts of chemicals left on the body.

    Interesting method, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. You’d be better off with the Fight Club water/lye method.

  3. The risks here are pretty profound, i’d think. Systemic effects of caustics can be quite significant. Mind you, I’m not bagging on the self expression here, but pointing something out. Using caustics one should make sure they aren’t systemically caustic before applying them to the skin for extended wear. It would suck to have a cardiac arrest or liver failure over something like this.

  4. I was thinking about this today in class (boring lecture) and the thought of “organic paint strippers” crossed my mind. Organic strippers do exist, they are used mostly for furniture refinishing and its a possibility thats what he used. I highly doubt they would be strong enough to eat thru your skin like that though since most of the organic strippers I’ve been around barely take the paint off much less layers of skin. I also find it interesting that whatever he was using wasnt strong enough to melt the tape surrounding his work. Either way I’d think it would be a dangerous way to go about this, I’ll stick with Scalpels or lasers thanks.

  5. I splashed a good deal of varnish stripper on my leg this summer stripping down an old desk. It was unbelievably painful, worse than any body mod I’ve done (though I only have a few) and counts as one of the more painful accidents I’ve had (and I’ve had more than a few of those) it was up there with being dragged by a horse and burning my hand on a hot tailpipe, the crazy thing is that all it did was blister a little I’ve had sunburns blister more severely. It definitely would not be my choice for skin removal considering the possible side effects of using toxic chemicals on your body completely side from the pain issue, most strippers have cancer and poison warnings that I wouldn’t want to play with. Mods have plenty of well recognized risks that we all have to accept but this crosses that line into being more dangerous than the outcome is worth since there is a safer alternative using either a scalpel or branding.

  6. I imagine pure conc sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, or nitric acid would be hard to come by. Unless you had knowledge of these acids and could create them via reactions?

  7. @ Collision Theory:
    car batteries contain two kinds of acids. one is sulfiric acid, the other one is probably HCL.
    i think one can buy chemicals from DIY Superstores or drugstores. H2SO4/HNO3 are such strong acids, that it is not necessary to use its pure form.

  8. I’ll resist the temptation to make the obvious joke about getting a nasty sore from a stripper…
    and instead remember reading somewhere about historic methods of tattoo removal using caustic agents…interesting re-appropriation of an older anti-mod techinque for self expression.

  9. A question to J-Knuckles, what exactly was he doing with the acetone? I’m a chemist and i use acetone to clean/dry glassware quite regularly and often get it all over my hands (it evapourates off very quickly) which to my knowledge is harmlesss, the worst it can really do if give you dry skin.
    If you want to use chemicals for scarification, look them up on a NIOSH/WHO/International Chemical Safety Card first to see if its going to have a nasty effect from repeated (if not first time) exposure.

  10. Scarification should never be done with acids, a strong oxidizer like AN (the stuff in cool packs.) should work fine, just cover parts of the skin with vaseline, leaving part raw, the covering damp skin with the oxidizer and then adding water via eye dropper, slowly it only has to be damp to burn badly. leave on for 2-10 minutes and enjoy, Aka don’t use lye i’m sitting here with a lye burn on my hand it hurt severly and still does. and i don’t think it will even look good. Rubbing chemical burns makes them work better but hurt alot more.

  11. Heya! thats my leg!! im looking for other chemicals to try my next one and i found this!, sweet. update for it anyway, its faded a fair bit but compared to my strike branding, its alot better in colour and shape! im ganna re-do it, so ill post the new ones up at bme again. cheers

  12. hmm just read the comments. its not an organic stripper. just regular stuff. i tested the stuff witha dot on my calf, no problems or anything. i know it prolly wasnt the safest of ways but its what was handy at the time.
    sow it on my backpack, lol, iv still got the ‘leather’, it really shouldnt be called a scab, it really does feel like a dried pelt, before tanning!

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