Accelerating maceration for skull taxidermy

Submitted by Todd on 9/24/05 at 9:03 PM. ( )

For macerating a skull, has anyone tried accleerating the process with additives to the water?

In the archives I found some folks wondering about using yeast to do this. This got me thinking about using some form of meat tenderizer, like Adolf's or, more preferably, a natural tenderizer like Kiwi fruit.

Thoughts anyone?

- Todd

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Todd, are you a "gasoline ass"?

This response submitted by George on 9/24/05 at 9:23 PM. ( )

Why the hurry? If it's that fast a job, you could always boil it. You could add sal soda to inhance it even better though you'd better watch it very closely. A skull will macerate in about 3 weeks during the summer, but I think Wolfie in Alaska uses an aquarium tank and heater to make it work even in colder climates.

you could take off....

This response submitted by Griz on 9/24/05 at 10:20 PM. ( )

you could take off most of the meat before you put it in your bath, and you could use 'natural' water like crick water that doesn't have chlorine in it, although this might have a bit more tendency to turn green with algae--- I'm no expert just guessing. And f.y.i. if you have a bath that already has 'culture' in it use it to jumpstart your fresh bath, just a bit of carryover that already has the bacteria in it.

Ain't in a big hurry

This response submitted by Todd on 9/25/05 at 1:19 AM. ( )

Not a 'gasoline ass', George. More just curious than anything else. My work space isn't heated and I don't have electrical there, so a fish tank heater is not an option. During summer (which is over where I live) I use Ma Nature's dermestid beetles/larvae and other insects. I'm looking for a low maintenance, efficient, winter method. I stay away from boiling, sal soda and the like. Heard too much against both of those, and have tried boiling with poor results.

- Todd

Understand Todd

This response submitted by George on 9/25/05 at 9:17 AM. ( )

I don't have an answer for you. Griz's suggestion about the "culture" is good, but when it comes down to it, there's less muss and fuss with the old "one skull, one plastic bucket" approach. The shame is, like you said, when summer's over, bets are off. Beetles work but they have to be in a heated environment as well and the stench can be breath taking.


This response submitted by wilson on 9/25/05 at 10:45 AM. ( )

Ranchers and farmers use aerators in their water tanks to keep algae and bacteria out and I've always been told, when drinking out of a stream; to do it where the water is running fastest.

All that makes me think .aeration would hinder the process.


This response submitted by Todd on 9/25/05 at 10:55 AM. ( )

Thanks for the suggestions, George & Griz. Much appreciated!

BTW - I'm on a well here, so I don't have chlorine, but using surface water sounds like it might help.

I think I'll get some 'soup' bones and try a few different concoctions to see if anything improves the maceration process. I'll post back on this forum with a comparison of the results.


Good point

This response submitted by Todd on 9/25/05 at 11:01 AM. ( )

Wilson - now that you mention it, I've heard about aerating stock tanks. I've got a neighbor who has a couple horses and uses unaerated watering tanks - maybe I'll use some of that water for a starter culture. Beats driving down to the river!

- Todd

Todd you have to grow bacteria

This response submitted by Evelyn on 9/25/05 at 12:27 PM. ( )

It is the bacteria in the water that disolve the tissue around the skull. Solar heat (including the uv rays) is one of the best ingredients mother nature provides to speed up this growth. That's why in summer the skulls don't take long to clean, bacteria grow like crazy in warm water.

You can speed up this bacteria growth some by adding natural ingredients into the water. Soil, leaves, blood, all are nutrients for bacteria. You can only speed up the process so much though. In winter, unless you add heat to your water and keep it at around 70 degrees, no bacteria will grow and the process will be slowed tremendously.

Never use tap water, because of the chlorine, for maceration or the process is going to take longer. The cholorine has to be broken down by the uv rays from the Sun before bacteria growth can start. Rain water, stock tank water, river water is the best. This water already contains some of the bacteria necessary to the maceration process.

Some processes just take time and should not be rushed.


This response submitted by Scott McClain on 9/25/05 at 8:06 PM. ( )

I use two or three cans of beer to five gallons of water. The bacteria feed off of the yeast in the beer and it seems to speed things up a bit.


This response submitted by Ron on 9/25/05 at 10:00 PM. ( )

I used to do a lot of buffalo skulls (talk about stink) and I would always add Rid-X which is what is used in septic tanks, seemed to help.

Helps the bacteria?

This response submitted by Todd T on 9/26/05 at 12:06 AM. ( )

I take it Rid-X helps the bacteria grow. Any idea what's in it?

Evelyn, Scott, & Ron - thanks for the pointers.

- Todd T

Beer additive.

This response submitted by Homer on 9/26/05 at 7:19 AM. ( )

l usually drink the three cans of beer, wait 30 minutes then add the bacteria by peeing in the bucket with the skulls,,get the best of both worlds that way.!

Ha ha Homer

This response submitted by Evelyn on 9/26/05 at 11:52 AM. ( )

Scott I didn't mention the beer because last time I did, I thought I committed a crime. People yelling DON'T WASTE THE PRECIOUS BEER. LOL

Homer I like your idea. Let us know if it works as well as the three cans of beer put in the water directly without a middle man.

Hate to pee on your parade...

This response submitted by Todd T. on 9/26/05 at 11:23 PM. ( )

... but pee is sterile.

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