The oil separates from the fat-cells and is found lying free, while the sulphuretted hydrogen evolved as one of the products of putrefaction reacts upon the iron of the blood and throws down a precipitate of sulphide of iron, which in course of time imparts to the limb a range of colour commencing in green and terminating in black.
If organic matter were first sterilized and then prevented from contamination from without, putrefaction did not occur, and the matter remained free from microbes.
In 1697 Georg Stahl admitted that fermentation and putrefaction were analogous processes, but that the former was a particular case of the latter.
In early inquiries a great point was made of the prevention of putrefaction, and work was done in the way of finding how much of an agent must be added to a given solution, in order that the bacteria accidentally present might not develop. But for various reasons this was an inexact method, and to-day an antiseptic is judged by its effects on pure cultures of definite pathogenic microbes, and on their vegetative and spore forms. Their standardization has been effected in many instances, and a water solution of carbolic acid of a certain fixed 'strength is now taken as the standard with which other antiseptics are compared.
The processes of putrefaction may be alluded to as affording an instance of such a power in the vegetable organisms. At the same time it must be remembered that the secretion of enzymes by Bacteria is of widespread occurrence.