The process of slaying a vampire has been documented in many books, TV series and films, but relatively few have looked at the actual chemistry behind the process. While the results of slaying a vampire vary there is a general consensus that when a vampire is slain the body is turned into the grey or brown substance frequently called 'dust'.
There are many ways of slaying vampires, but for now let us fix on the method of getting a vampire in contact with 'Holy Water'. Since Holy Water doesn't react with vampire dust this can be assumed to be unreactive. However, when a vampire is exposed to Holy Water it catches fire. So this is a reaction which gives a lot of energy and can be called a highly exothermic reaction (the inverse of this type of reaction - one requiring energy - is called an endothermic reaction). The chemicals involved can be called vampire ions, as follows :
- Vmp- - solid (s)
- H+ - aqueous solution (aq)
- Dst - solid (s)
Using these symbols we can construct a formula:
2Vmp- (s) + H+ (aq) = Dst (s) + a great quantity of energy
This is a very simple process, although notice the two Vmp- ions required. This is because it has been observed that when a large quantity of holy water is used, not all of it is used up; it has also been observed that it only takes a small vial or similar vessel to consume a whole vampire. The holy water cannot be treated as a catalyst because a) some is clearly used up in the process and b) a catalyst speeds a reaction by lowering activation energy. This would mean that some of the vampire would be turning into dust even at the microscopic level all the time: clearly, since vampires live for millennia, this cannot be the case, as the older vampires would have long since turned into dust.
Although, having said that, it has been observed that fire - i.e. a source of energy - can also set the reaction going, so it is possible that the reaction is merely a decomposition which takes an extremely long time. In any case, this requires further experimentation.
So, if water can contain holy ions (H+) it is safe to assume that people can as well. Therefore certain people who are endowed with holiness, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury , also contain the ability to kill vampires (other people who contain holiness can be treated as similar constituents for this experiment e.g. the Dalai Lama (Dm+) or The Pope (Pp+).
Since these constituents are a channelling of power, they will have undergone some dilution in the process, so more are required for a successful reaction. Experiments have shown that 25 is a rough figure to use. So 25 Archbishops of Canterbury (Abc+) are required to turn one vampire into dust.
Vmp- (s) + 25Abc+ (s) = Dst (s) + No visible energy release
Let's now add a catalyst in to this experiment. Let's use the classic catalyst, the stake. This can be any piece of wood and has to be applied to the heart of a vampire. This is similar to the 'lock and key' method of enzymes, which are catalysts found in many important reactions in the world. The method is described as 'lock and key' because it is very similar to a key being used to unlock a door. This is why the stake needs to be applied to a specific place on the vampire - the heart - to activate the reaction.
A catalyst will lower the activation energy of the reaction, or in simpler terms increase the chance of a successful collision of Archbishop of Canterbury and vampire.
In this way, a new formula can be derived:
Vmp- (s) + 20Abc+ (s) = Dst (s)
As you can see there is only a minor change in the number of Archbishops of Canterbury required. This is because although a stake is a catalyst it is not a very good one. For better results other catalysts should be used, such as a holy water gun or flame thrower.
Although there has been little experimentation due to the rare nature of pure vampire samples, this research has managed to explain some of the chemistry behind the destruction of vampires and hopefully it will provide aid for people in the future should they need it.