long-term hypochlorite (e.g. "bleach") vs. hydrogen peroxide

Submitted by Graham Charles on 6/29/05 at 2:23 PM. ( graham@tmmc.org )

I'm involved in the cleaning of medium-sized mammal skulls for long-term preservation. We mostly use freshwater maceration and simmering. I've been getting lots of conflicting information about the use of chlorine bleach (hypochlorite) or hydrogen peroxide 3% or 40% for the final clean. Mainly what I'm interested in is not speed of preparation but keeping the skulls for as long as possible.

So, my question: what's the best finishing method?

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This response submitted by tomdes on 6/29/05 at 3:18 PM. ( mapletax@twcny.rr.com )

I'd say it's only volume 40 peroxide, I've never heard of bleach being recommended as a whitener for skulls.. After degreasing the skull I put it in 100% vol 40 peroxide, some here mix it with 50% water, I used to but not anymore. After whitening I either put out in the sun to dry, or under a bright halogen light or if you have one, and OTT light. good luck..


This response submitted by Ron on 7/1/05 at 4:14 PM. ( )

I have read on here many times about how bad bleach is on skulls. The method that I use is to macerate the skull till clean, pressure wash, soak overnite in a Dawn and bactericide solution, and then overnite again in a weak Clorox solution, rinse well and set in the sun for several days then spray with a sealer. My skulls do not flake, are very clean, cost is almost nothing and has worked for me for 20 years.


This response submitted by AL on 7/5/05 at 9:26 PM. ( )

Sir, I feel that clorox...bleach etc.. is not the best whitening agent. Though it does work I feel that peroxide is a much better way. Simply put, when the peroxide dries it stops working. You can then re-apply to get to the whiteness you want. Bleach soaks right into the bone and "can" soften it if left to long.Mixing powder developer with the peroxide will produce a paste that can be brushed on the areas that need it. Using a hair dryer on hot can speed up the proscess.I have found peroxide in 15%,20%,30% and 40% strengths. The higher the number the stronger the liquid. Please note care must be taken when using this liquid. Wear gloves a face protection...it can burn you.Best place to find this stuff is a local hair dresser supplier..and don't forget to ask them for tips on using it.

Do not use Bleach

This response submitted by Pooch on 7/6/05 at 1:21 PM. ( )

The only thing bleach will do is either soften the bone, Like "AL" said or leave it yellow. Use the 40% peroxide and baby powder to thicken. You dont have to use powder developer or Mag Carb it does nothing more than thicken the peroxide to hold it on the bone to whiten. As a clear coat I would recommend using krylon clear if it is not going to be exposed to the elements. The Krylon will not flake or chip I have noticed some guys use poly-urethane and it leaves a yellow tinge. If you dont have baby powder you could also just use white paper towels to hold the peroxide to the bone.

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