Skull Degreasing

Submitted by Jenelle on 10/8/04 at 3:42 PM. ( )

I am looking for the best thing to use for skull degreaser. After going through the archives (and doing my own research), I have realized that there are a lot of different things to use out there and I had a couple questions.

What I got from the archives: use gasoline, Coleman fuel, acetone, dawn soap and water, Epo-Grip Bloodout/Degreaser, Van Dyke's Eliminator, simple green, Rittel's Super Solvent, and Raven said something about trying out Tri Sodium Phosphate. I also found a site that told me to try trichloroetheline (which I cannot seem to find in the stores).

I work at a research facilty and I work with *small* fish bones on a regular basis. I also work with other marine life, such as sea lions, seals, whales, etc, as well as non-marine life (for purposes of feeding our dermestid beetles), such as bears, birds, and more. I need something that will be good for all different types and sizes of bones. Keep in mind *all* the bones are equally as important to me (for research purposes), even the extremely small, very fragile bones that usually may not seem so important to most people and I can't afford to lose them while trying to degrease.

Also, the cost and how available it is is very important to me. Since I live in Alaska, it seems that some of these things are only available online and can become very expensive to ship. I am working with some sort of bone every day and need something that is either cheap or that can be reused to keep costs down. Any suggestions?

Raven, have you tried the Tri Sodium Phosphate yet? How did it work for you? And has anyone tried the Trichloroetheline?

Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!

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Super Solvent

This response submitted by Raven on 10/8/04 at 5:19 PM. ( )

Im sold on Super Solvent... I recently did some cetacea material with it and it worked better than anything I ever used before. I don't know if it's just a super duper dish soap that Bruce repackaged, but whatever it is - it did an incredible job!

As for the TSP - I won't be using it on any osteo material. Yes it can gut grease and wax BUT.. the sodium can/will replace the calcium in the bone leaving youw itht he chore of artificailly strengthening the bone with one of many pva variants. Just not worth it.

Acetone does work well if you don't mind the toxic effects and are legally allowed to have a quantity large enough to do larger bones. Here in Ontario we have a 5 gallon limit, so it's use to me for a lot of stuff is limited. That's where the Super Solvent comes in.

As for Trichloroetheline? I have used it and it does work.. but the incredibly damaging health risks associated with it is enough for me to say forget it when there are other materials available.

Side note about the Rittels Super Solvent... it only requires 2 liquid ounces to gallon of water... so it goes a long way.

Thanks, Raven!

This response submitted by Jenelle on 10/8/04 at 5:36 PM. ( )

Thanks a ton, Raven! I was just wondering how much Super Solvent you would need to use and if it would be cost effective to try that out, so your advice is much appreciated! Plus, there is a local supplier of the Super Solvent nearby, so that will make it easier to purchase. I think I will give that a try.

I didn't really want to try acetone and hearing what you have to say about Trichloroetheline makes me not want to try that either.

Thanks again!


This response submitted by Raven on 10/8/04 at 6:30 PM. ( )

To give you a further idea of the cost associated with Super Solvent (SS)...

I did a bunch of VERY greasy bone material. I had macerated this material to completion. I loaded it all up into a 5 gallon pail, filled with water and added the appropriate amount of SS. The water was all nice and clean. After a month the water was really nasty (meaning a lot of junk had come out of the bone - WooHoo!). I did a full water change and added more SS and left that for yet another month. The water had a slight discolouration, but nothing too bad. I then changed the water again and did NOT add SS this time - just water... 2 weeks later the bones were perfectly clean.

Now you may not need to degrease for that period of time but I had really greasy stuff so wanted to make sure I did a thorough job. You could probably decrease the time by doing more water changes and decreasing the time between them - but then you use more SS.

Hopefully it works as well for you as it did for me =)


This response submitted by wilson on 10/8/04 at 7:32 PM. ( )

good job george

Thanks again

This response submitted by Jenelle on 10/8/04 at 8:35 PM. ( )

Thanks. I will try it out and see how it works for me - it has to be better than the ammonia method I've been using!

I also live in Alaska...

This response submitted by Wolfwoman on 10/9/04 at 1:02 PM. ( thepredator AT )

and have found a really good degreaser that is soap based. I use it to degrease bear skulls, and have used it on boar (pig) skulls also. I get it at Costco, and it's Kirkland's Degreaser. It's a commercial degreaser and I really like it as it's not dangerous like using gas or acetone, and it's resonably prices $6-7 a gallon, and is diluted with water. I've never used it full strength and never had a problem with it. I also haven't had to do water changes except with the pig skulls, so one degeasing on bears is pretty good.

Raven, as always, is a great source for info and he's helped me out a ton of times!

Take care,

Awwww shucks =)

This response submitted by Raven on 10/9/04 at 2:32 PM. ( )

Thanks Wolfie gal... you rock too - the tips and tricks have gone both ways over the years =)

btw I keep meaning to email you - let me know when yer parcel arrives. By shipping via post office there's no way for me to track it - grrrrr.

Maybe I'll try both

This response submitted by Jenelle on 10/11/04 at 1:13 PM. ( )

Could you give me a little tip on how much of this Kirkland's stuff you use for things like a bear skull? I think I will get both products and try them both - just for experimental purposes. Thanks again!

Decreasing Elephant Bones

This response submitted by Ricky Pace on 10/24/04 at 10:43 PM. ( )

I am doing an archeological dig with my Biology Class where we are exhuming an adult African Elephant. The bones are estimated to weigh over 1000 lbs. The skull along with tusks over 150 lbs. These bones will need to be decreased but as you can tell I will need a large amount of solvent for this project. I need something environmentally safe, and non biohazardous. Although acetone would be best, it is not an option due to the safety issues the amount required for this task. I have read all the other articles in this forum about skull decreasing and was wondering what might work best for my project and would it destroy the tusks of this elephant during the decreasing process?
Cost will also be a factor since we are a public high school on a limited budget.
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

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