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Body Parts Worth Bucks explores other ways that you can earn money from your body (without dying).

Where did I get this information? I honestly have no clue. I wrote this information in some e-mail to a friend more than two years ago. My guess is that it came from The Straight Dope series of books by Cecil Adams. Unfortunately, one of my former students stole my entire collection. I assure that the information is factual (assuming that my original source of the information was correct).

The information detailing the measurement of skin area is detailed in the book Why Do Some Shoes Squeak? and 568 Other Popular Questions Answered by George W. Stimpson (1992 by Outlet Book Company).

A bit of the information came from the article What a life's worth by Richard J. Sagall, M.D. The article appeared on page 10 of the December 1, 1994 issue of Pediatrics for Parents.

You're worth more than you think.

Well, I guess you could try prostitution, but that's not what I'm talking about. 

Let's suppose that when you die, you wish to sell your body. Now I'm sure that there is some pervert out there that would want to do some things we shouldn't mention. However, many claim that your body is a mineral goldmine. Could the minerals actually be "mined" and sold at market value? Let's see: 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, your body is: 

  • 65% Oxygen (worthless - meaning that you're mostly hot air!) 
  • 18% Carbon (worthless) 
  • 10% Hydrogen (worthless) 
  • 3% Nitrogen (good for plant food) 
  • 1.5% Calcium (worthless) 
  • 1% Phosphorous (good fertilizer) 
  • 0.35% Potassium (worthless) 
  • 0.25% Sulfur (can be used to make that rotten egg smell) 
  • 0.15% Sodium (salt) 
  • 0.15% Chlorine (not enough for the backyard pool) 
  • 0.05% Magnesium (of slight value) 
  • 0.0004% Iron (I guess we can rust) 
  • 0.00004% Iodine (sell this to the medical industry) 
Plus minute quantities of fluorine, silicon, manganese, zinc, copper, aluminum, and arsenic(!). No gold, silver, or platinum deposits. 

Value of all this great stuff - less than $1.00. This won't cover the price of the funeral. 

I guess if you had enough bodies some money could be earned. Doesn't sound worth it. Just the smell of the decomposing bodies would make me want to live in poverty for the rest of my life. 

Most people know that you can sell your organs on the black market, but I overlooked another money making scheme. 

Instead of selling the minerals in your body, you could sell your skin. Those sick Nazis had an entire industry built on this scheme. They made lampshades, shoes, and other things that used leather-like human skins. Thankfully, they lost the war and this practice ended. 

The question is, how much skin do we have? We have to know if we intend to sell it. 

The average person has between fourteen to eighteen square feet of skin on the body. Each person varies a bit. Things such as your height, how fat you are, and how large your breasts are cause the three major differences. 

So how do they estimate this? 

I guess that they could skin you after death and measure it that way. They don't. 

It seems that the Japanese have the solution. The Imperial State Institute for Nutrition at Tokyo has a method. First, they have you strip naked. They then adhere a strong, thin paper to every centimeter of your body. The paper is allowed to dry and removed. They then cut the paper into small pieces and carefully calculate your body measurements. Sounds kind of kinky. 

This could cause a change in our standards. Instead of Miss June being a 36D-22-34 (must be an inflatable model), she would now be a 12,800 square centimeter beauty. 

So how much is this skin worth? If we assume that a square foot of cow hide sells for 25 cents, then you would be worth approximately $3.50. Plus, you could still get nearly $1.00 for the minerals contained in your body, as most elements are stored in your bones and internal organs. Hey, if you're lucky, the market could be on an upswing. Maybe you could get five bucks! 

Prostitution is sounding more profitable with each sentence that I write! 

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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