I have a character who wants to burn his fingertips off with acid so that he couldn't be recognised by his previously taken fingerprints anymore (he's not the sanest person on Earth). Sulfuric acid would apparently be strong enough to do this, but how would he go about not damaging himself more than necessary (how long to keep the fingertips in the acid, what to do afterwards)? I've read first aid instructions for sulfuric acid burns but they only tell to rinse the burn in a mild soap and water solution and then get help. My character can't involve hospital or other people, although he has lots of time and resources to prepare and is very intelligent despite the situation.
The technology and medicine are about at the level of the early 20th century (mix and match alternate history).
Also, for those experienced with acid burns, how would this feel aside from "hurts like hell"?
And, in case I've missed something obvious, is there a better permanent and dramatic way to completely get rid of your fingerprints?
EDIT. Thanks for the answers, seems like sulfuric acid was overkill. Now I like the idea of open flame better, it creates a nice visual and actually fits better on a symbolic level. Never thought you could lose fingerprints that easily.
Where: Cardiff, Wales
A woman is transported by the rift (a tear in time in the Cardiff area) to approximately the year 2040. There, they are rapidly discovered by the local as someone who is:
1) Behaving oddly, disoriented and confused, possibly lost, possibly under the influence or mentally unstable, but not trying to hurt anyone;
2) Not Linked (connected to the future internet/cellphone 24/7 via wireless broadband), which is usually either a punishment for certain crimes or a choice by religious fanatics - and she doesn't look like some sort of fundamentalist;
3) Armed with a handgun, with a concealed holster;
4) Not identifiable in any local (UK or EU) databases - no government record of her at all; no passport, drivers license, etc. anywhere they have immediate access to. They don't have her name yet, but assume very sophisticated computerized visual matching capacity, so there is no photo that matches her anywhere within hundreds of miles.
Granted that this is several decades in the future, I have to start somewhere - what would the Welsh police do NOW if they showed up in a similar situation? Would she be arrested, and for what? How big a problem would the gun (and lack of permit, if they are required) be for her?
"beard" - that is, I'm looking for an out-of-use term (think Victorian or thereabouts) for this definition of beard:
One who serves to divert suspicion or attention from another.
It's quite possible that in fact, the term "beard" *is* the out-of-use term for Decoy and I just don't know it. I worked FAR too many years at Renaissance and Victorian Faires and often use terms from the wrong century without realizing it.
It is, for obvious reasons, bloody hard to google.
So - a gentleman of the British Isles (rather more Scottish than English if it matters) who's MUCH older than he looks (because he's not quite human) would use? Something Victorian is what I'm hoping for.
Thanks for any help!
EDIT: Two things - first, I'm very familiar with the use of Beard as a "cover" used in some gay circles - which is in itself a decoy - I'm also familiar with the whole "Beard the lion in his den" for "get up the courage" meanings - what I'm looking for here is closer to the first meaning. I've a gentleman character who is considerably older than he looks and his language is often out of date - as old as Victorian on a regular basis.
For him to describe someone tailing them as "a beard" - meaning they were there to distract the them from noticing the other people really tailing them is what I'm going for. What I'm not clear on is whether "beard" works as an old enough term - or if there's an older term I can use.