I am making a fantasy universe and really I am also curious to know if bones generally are harder to corrode than human skin in our world and at what rate?

I was thinking to compare how a skeleton would react to corrosion compared to a regular human. Maybe some chemists had any insight to this. I see many fantasy universes incorporate "acid" as an element but neglect bases and corrosions as a whole.

Bonus question, is it possible to find a list on how different metals react to strong acids and bases. I have heard of the Reactivity series, but not much beyond that, or perhaps I just don't understand how to use it.

  • $\begingroup$ What kind of information are you looking for w.r.t. to your bonus question? Chemistry mechanism of how the metals react or if the reaction is violent or not? Even then, "violent" is a bit subjective. $\endgroup$
    – J. Ari
    May 18, 2017 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Hi thanks for your comment, I realize I was a bit vague. Maybe I can clarify. Let's say someone where to splash some a strong base/acid on a substance made of bone vs. human skin tissue, then which of the two materials would have the best chance to not be eaten so to say. I know it is a bit of an open question. So yes, I guess violent is a way of saying it. I can also rephrase my metal question. I know this is poorly hypothetical, but if a person was to make an armor suit of any metal of his/her choice which would than be best at not being "eaten" by the acids/basses? $\endgroup$ May 18, 2017 at 0:30
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    $\begingroup$ This question is definitely on-topic here, but definitely check out Worldbuilding, as they deal with a lot of these "theoretical"-type scenarios, too (I'm not an active member over there, but it is very popular). $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    May 18, 2017 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, I will also post it over there: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/81174/… I hope either places can help me. I am looking for a science-based answer nonetheless, so if anyone can contribute I will be grateful. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2017 at 0:55
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    $\begingroup$ Just looking at your everyday skeletal remains of a dead person would imply that the skin definitely goes first. The bones are usually all that remain after some time, and that's in (somewhat) standard conditions (I'm going with a 6-feet under kind of thing here). You might get some traction looking into the effects of quicklime/hydrated lime on decomposition as in this abstract. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2017 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


Acids and bases are considered corrosive in industrial chemical hygiene. While it is true on a technical level that harder tissue (like bone tissue) will be a bit harder to corrode compared to soft tissue (like skin), a corrosive substance that can cause damage to soft tissue will cause enough damage to harder tissue to be a medical emergency; this is certainly true when you have a highly concentrated substance. If in your world, things that are worn on the person are made from either soft or harder tissue, then the harder tissue would provide slightly better protection. But to be absolutely clear, both types of tissue will be eaten away, it's just a matter of how much.

Metal reactivity with acids and bases is nuanced because it isn't just about hydrogen ion reactivity. The alloy known as hastelloy (trademarked name) and tantalum alloys are metals used in industry for corrosive environments. Silver and gold are resistant to some common acids, but not all (e.g. nitric acid will dissolve silver).


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