How much blood is in a human being? Hard to tell. Until now. I looked it up on the internet. I know this is not as accurate or informative as a proper bloodletting, but it was the best I could do within the borders of the United States. I also consulted my father, a retired criminalist and pumped him for details. As it turns out, he performed a similar experiment decades ago in Butte County, California. He assured me there is a simple rule of thumb for the amount of blood in a human. He didn't have that formula readily available, so I just took his word for it, that 6 quarts is about right for an adult male.

On Mother's day, 1999, I went to my parents' house well prepared: one gallon of "Imitation Maple-flavored Pancake Syrup and a half-gallon of Hyacinth Punch Mix. Both are corn-syrup based. Hyacinth is a plant fabled in classic myth to have sprung from the spilled blood of Hyacinthus. After breakfast with Mom, we set out to find a deserted area to make a big mess. I was thinking in terms of a business park, but mom had a suggestion: "Maybe you should do that at the dead-end of a street."

Jane and Sue jumped into the car and we started cruising for a secluded "accident scene". We settled on a nearby warehouse complex. Jane grabbed a smoke while Sue and I put the gloves on. We poured the punch mix and pancake syrup together into a bucket. It was so tasty and delicious, I was having a hard time keeping my mitts off of the sweet, sweet sauce! I proceeded to pour it into a little lake on the asphalt. BLOOD! BLOOD! AAAAAHHHHHHHH!

It was a tiny little puddle of blood. Kind of disappointing. Imagine if one of us had given our lives for this pitiful little display? We were suddenly glad we hadn't! Especially Jane, who had lost the coin-toss.

The blood was thick on the ground, as thick as a mousepad, slowly spreading out across the lot. At this time it measured 87" at one wide spot. I estimate the surface area to have been 21 square feet.

The blood was creeping and we were sleeping. After almost 10 minutes, we realized this could take all day, so we started spreading it around by hand.

When we were done, Sue showed me how to remove my gloves like a real lab rat.
We simulated the eventual expanse of a person's blood across a stretch of non-absorbant land. 111 inches at the widest spot. I estimate the bloody surface area to have been 36 square feet. This is about the size of a Honda's shadow. There is a lot of blood in a human, but not a huge, gruesome lake of blood. Just a small red pool. It was great to have Sue and Jane help, they let me boss them around and they had constructive ideas. I realized Sunday that I have probably the least-squeamish family in the world.

Last updated May 13, 1999.

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