dawn or tide

Submitted by Todd Scott on 5/21/02. ( )

I took some lessons for mounting birds. They used tide laundry detergent to clean the bird. It really gets out blood. Then they used downy to cut the soap and soften feathers. I see a lot of people talking about using dawn to cut the grease. What are your thoughts. I also soak in white fuel after above listed. I am the one havings some trouble with grease seapage.

Return to Bird Taxidermy Category Menu

bass ackwards!

This response submitted by sfasedfawerd on 5/21/02. ( )

it goes like this: properly flesh, then degrease, then wash with dawn.....

Who says its cut and dried.

This response submitted by John C on 5/21/02. ( )

Here ponder this, Tide cuts all different grease, Dawn cuts grease food, grease. So it would make sense, to use Dawn. But for the brightest colors on your ducks, would a ULTRA VIOLET DYE really perk up the colors, i.e. whiter whites, bluer blues, greener greens?

Do you use a ULTRA VIOLET BLOCKER on your camo hunting clothes? Dont they look somewhat dingy? You use non u.v. brightener sopa on them too.

So try two mallard drakes one in each and you make your desicion.

I disagree with above

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 5/21/02. ( )

It goes:
De-fat THOROUGHLY, removing all fat from every square inch of the hide.
(sew up any holes)
Wash THOROUGHLY, using Dawn, Tide, or whatever, but use it until all grease and blood residue is gone. It is OK to use a soft toothbrush to gently loosen the oil film from the inside of the hide and to scrub out bloodstains.
Rinse THOROUGHLY, and keep rinsing by immersing in fresh water until the down feathers look like fluffy clouds underwater and the water is clear.
Blot dry and then either soak in white gas to displace the water, or tumble it as is.
Aside from displacing water and speeding the drying process, white gas has little effect. It is a very poor degreaser.
Finish up with a blow dryer on low, until the feathers and all of the down are dry all the way to the skin.
Ready to mount!

Nancy M.

You go Girl!

This response submitted by Stefan Savides on 5/22/02. ( stefan@AvianDesign.com )

You all should listen to Nancy. She's not on here for her health. She knows her "stuff". The only thing I can add is to spin dry in the washer and then white gas them. Give them a blast with some compressed air and blow dry.

I still recommend Epo-Grips product

This response submitted by CHUCK on 5/22/02. ( cnctaxi@prodigy.net )

I am a firm believer that white gas belongs in the lantern not the bird. With so many health hazards out there and trust me I've worked in refineries enough to know I don't want to subject myself to any more than necessary. I use Epo-Grip bloodout /degreaser with excellent results,I can take a fragile woodduck and wire wheel it(gently,of course)to open up the fat globs and remove most of the solid grease.I'll mix up some EG B/D 1 part to 50 parts water.This does not sound like a whole lot but a 100:1 solution still works but it takes a little longer.Soak and agitate in the solution for about 10-15 minutes .Rinse 2 X and spin dry,(here is where the gas part comes in for those who choose to do so-drives out any water still in the feathers and some say imparts a better shine to them when dry) tumble if thats your thing or blow dry til feathers are back to normal.Mount and finish.Enjoy your health while you have it.

the verdict isn't in yet...

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 5/22/02. ( )

I am still experimenting with the Epo-Grip product. Steve Steinbring very kindly sent me a sample to try, so I am giving it a hard test. The way my worksheet happened to fall I had a series of upland birds back to back, and it worked well on those. However, yesterday's lucky victim was a pintail, and after a 20 minute soak in the Epo-Grip solution the down feathers around the incision still would not fluff up in the rinse water. I gave it another 10 minutes and they still were stringy, so I went back to Dawn. One thing I must say, though -
By the time all of that was over, it was one EXTREMELY clean pintail! I tumbled it without using any white gas at all, just to do a time comparison and, surprisingly, it came out about the same.
I might, just possibly, be phasing out the white gas in the fairly near future. More experimenting is in order.

Nancy M.

I have phased out the fuel

This response submitted by Leanna on 5/22/02. ( scardeer@cornernet.com )

With the addition of the spin cycle in the washer, the tumbling seems to act the same as fuel for the water dispensation.

One thing I've always been curious about though. White gas is NOT a degreaser, but WHY was there always "grease" in the bottom of the gas bath after taking out the bird? Were my birds just not clean enough? Since then, I've washed rinsed, washed rinsed, washed and thoroughly rinsed with seemingly better results without the gas. I still wonder, if after all that, there'd be grease in the bottom of the gas I don't use anymore! lol

Stefan, what is YOUR reason for using the gas? Habit? Or do you truly get results you wouldn't without it? Some have told me the plummage seems to have more shine with the gas. Very curious is all.

Degreasing information

This response submitted by Steve Steinbring on 5/23/02. ( nsc@netrus.net )

First I would like to commend everyone here on this discussion about degreasing. Let me see if I can give some more insight upon the subject, and maybe answer some questions.

When trying to clean anything it is important to identify what you are actually cleaning, and then use the proper solvent, soap, or cleaner to get the job done.

Water is the universal solvent and cleaning up a great many things that are water soluable like tea, coffee, Coke-a-Cola, ect.

To clean rust stains or lime scale you will need an acid type material to address the problem areas. The household cleaner Limeaway is a non fuming acid soap, PHOS or Naval Jelly is used clean rust on ferrous metals. Generally phosphoric or citric type acids are used in some of these types of applications.

Cleaning petroleum soils or greases from surfaces require a petroleum based solvent or degreaser for best results. If your hands are greasy washing them in gas or mineral spirits works better than soap.

Now on "Animal Fat"! To effectively clean animal fats you will need an alkaline based degreaser to breakdown the fat. Mechanical agitation helps to break surface tension and speeds the chemicals action. Wetting agents are added to the soaps to help the water and chemical to in effect be wetter and penetrate better. A higher PH material is going to be more aggressive than a lower one in this action. Any cleaner is effected by the water quality that you are using, so specific dilution ratios are hard to recommend and must be worked out for your individual needs. A warm to hot solution excites the cleaning action of these materials. For taxidermy use of warmer solutions may cause other problems like bacteria growth. Notice how your dishsoaps are far more effective in hot water than cold. The hot water helps to disperse and rinse off congealing food fats or greases. Although not practical, scalding your dishes with boiling water would clean your dishes very well after scraping for food particles.

Coleman fuel or gas does a couple of things. First fuels are not a good animal fat degreasers, but they do separate water from bird feathers very well. Thats because the specific gravity of gas is lighter than water, so the gas floats on the water leaving it on the bottom of your container. The gas will also tend to dry clean the birds feathers. I am not familiar with exactly what additives in the gas that will be left as a residual as it evaporates. The downside of gas besides odor, are the cost factors, safety hazards of fumes and fire. Rancid gas is not all that easy to dispose of either when the time finally comes.

Suds or foam! I know to a housewife suds are important thing her the in dishsoap. The truth is that suds/foam does practically nothing to enhance cleaning actions, and make through rinsing difficult. If you ever get a chance to see a professional dishwashing operation in action, suds are despised. Want to get in trouble with the dishwasher, add some suds or foam to his sink. Newton Supply does sell a High Foam Soap though used to test for air leaks in condensers in power plants(foam has uses).

I hope this information adds to the discussion. Call me if you have any questions at 800-888-2467.

Sorry for the typos!

This response submitted by Steve Steinbring on 5/23/02. ( )

Should have typed it all in Word first and pasted it over!

Great Nancy!

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 5/23/02. ( stephen.rogers@attbi.com )

I am thrilled that Ms. Nancy has experimented with not using gasoline. I am quite glad she will consider not be risking her health (not to mention another fire in her studio) with this useless, un-needed step.

Ms. Leanna, the "grease" you find in the bottom of the container is the the fat/soap/water remnant which was driven out of the bird skin. If gasoline DID dissolve the fat, then the solution at the bottom would be clear water with a little dawn dishwashing liquid in it.

Mr. Steinbring, I am sorry I have not tested your product yet. The aspect I will be looking specifically at will be the effect the high PH has on the actual feather itself, as well as the ability to remove blood and grease from a feather. I wish to do a thorough job when testing and have not found the time necessary to spend a full day on the venture.

Gas should be optional

This response submitted by Stefan Savides on 5/23/02. ( stefan@AvianDesign.com )

Even though I may gas birds frequently, I would say that gassing certainly could be considered an optional step. I choose to gas those that are very fat much more often than I do the thin ones, mainly as an extra insurance in the degreasing process for I do believe that solvents can aid in removing oil from skin and feathers. I also like the water displacing qualities of gassing as well. Gassing large birds such as swans certainly cuts down on the drying time in a big way. I"ve always maintained that 99% of fat and oils must be removed in the fleshing and washing (Detergent) stages. One should not allow themselves to depend on solvents to remove the oils. A very thorough warm water soap bath and rinse should do the trick.
As far as regaining the brilliance and gloss to the feathers? First, one must start with a specimen that possesses this quality. It is my belief that a thorough warm water soap wash and rinse is all that is necessary to accomplish that goal. I do however also tumble my birds in corncob, but I don"t believe that it "buffs" or adds any brilliance to the feathers.
The bright colors in feathers are produced by little tiny prisms in the feathers called schema chromes. They break down white light and refract back various colors. If these prisms are left with a grease or soap film on them it will impede their ability to do their job. The idea that one can enhance a feather"s brilliance with an additive or by "buffing" in some substance, is not a notion shared by me.

Wow, look at all the info!

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 5/23/02. ( )

And no arguing or name calling either!

Leanna, have you noticed that the mystery goo which accumulates at the bottom of the white gas is in two parts? I notice this because I pour it from a safety can into a different container for degreasing, and then pour it back. There is a sharply defined bottom layer which I believe is water and, for lack of a better term, "juice" from the birds. Floating above that is a smaller hazy layer which I believe is fat or oil. This second layer will mix back into the gas with the slightest agitation, so I demand total silence (lol) in order to enter the proper frame of concentration required to pour off the top part without disturbing it. (It's a very "zen" type of thing ...)
Seriously though, I would like to reduce the use of white gas just to get rid of the extra buckets and safety containers. The smell doesn't bother me much, but the ever-increasing price is an irritation. And it WILL burn if handled carelessly, so I always have to be aware of it.

Thanks for the nice words, Stefan. On those mornings when I can't quite remember what a bird looks like, I find that it helps me if the feathers are really clean ... (and the coffeepot is still where I left it!)

Stephen, in my case the fuel was innocent of starting the fire, although I'm sure it contributed when it got the chance - along with all of the various other flammable liquids used in painting, finishing, and etc. (- not to mention the live ammo!) I would have to figure out a way to work without electricity to prevent ALL chances of another fire like the last one, but every little bit helps.

And Steve, of course you know that I am not saying anything negative about Epo-Grip. One duck is not enough to base a decision on. I will continue to work with it throughout the summer until I can come to some definite conclusions.

'Hope I got everybody's name right!

Nancy M.


This response submitted by George on 5/23/02. ( georoof@aol.com )

Understanding that I should have adult supervision while doing taxidermy, I can't help but wonder why you "gas guys" don't put a pet cock at the bottom or your gas cans so you could just turn on the spigot and let the spooge ooze out. Then it wouldn't take all that zen and concentration. But since I quit using gas when they took my arsenic away, what would I know anyway?

Thanks Stefan, cool.

This response submitted by Leanna on 5/24/02. ( )

Nancy I did notice the layered sludge, this has all been quite interesting!

A pet cock ...

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 5/24/02. ( )

... would probably not enjoy being immersed in white gas. I interviewed all of mine just to be certain, and they all agree (except for Mr. Bok, and it is common knowledge that Bokhara trumpeter pigeons had all traces of intelligence bred out of them many centuries ago) That's 34 opposed and 1 in favor. I didn't interview the youngsters whose gender is still in question. But, in any case, I won't be putting petcocks in the bottom of my solvent containers.

oh, ....duh. You mean those little valve/spigot thingies?
Hmmmmmmm. I have never met a valve that I would trust completely when it comes to flammable liquids kept in or around a building. And I NEED those occasional meditative intervals, BELIEVE me! (Keep in mind that I AM a bird taxidermist after all, and, to make matters even worse, a blonde as well.)

..... need more coffee ......

Nancy M.

what works for me

This response submitted by bob on 6/15/02. ( fabrey@alltel.net )

high ph is vary inportant in degreesing. Increase your ph by washing and rinsing with what ever soap you use in 1cup household vinager to 5gal. water. It will also remove blood, displace oil, kill bacteria and pickle the hide. DANGER to strong of mix for to long may breakdown a thin skin

what works for me

This response submitted by bob on 6/15/02. ( fabrey@alltel.net )

high ph is vary inportant in degreesing. Increase your ph by washing and rinsing with what ever soap you use in 1cup household vinager to 5gal. water. It will also remove blood, displace oil, kill bacteria and pickle the hide. DANGER to strong of mix for to long may breakdown a thin skin

Return to Bird Taxidermy Category Menu