Help! Trying to bleach and clean bear skull

Submitted by trish on 11/14/99. ( )

I am very new to any type of skull preparation. I am trying to finish preparing a bear skull for mounting in my husband's office. I really don't know where to start, the skull is mostly bare except for a few pieces of dried flesh.(Hardly any)
Can I boil this skull without if falling apart? Does houselhold bleach make a skull white?
Does anyone have any good internet sources of information on this subject I could access?
Any help would be appreciated.

Return to Category Menu

To boil or not, hmmmm?

This response submitted by jeff hughes on 11/14/99. ( )

Without a doubt having dermistid beetles do your work is fast and efficient, but unless you want to raise bugs or mail your skull around the country . . .
Boiling in sal soda or I have found going to the grocery store and buying arm and hammer washing soda in the laundry detergent isle,(not baking soda-different stuff)works well.
The skulls can get over cooked so check it every 15 minutes or so and scrape any loose meat off with a dull knife. The boiling will leave the skull a little dry and probably not as durable as the beetle version would be.
Use a toothpick to clean all the blood vessel passages through the jaw and yes the teeth need to come out and be cleaned-sockets too or it will stink :( super glue or epoxy the teeth back in when done.
Pick the brain out with a hooked piece of wire through the spinal cord hole.
I hesitate to use household bleach, I think if left too long the bone may powder, instead hit up the local beaty supply store for 40% volume peroxide cream and powdered bleach or "whitening". Mix them as per the directions on the bleach package and make a toothpaste like substance, BE CAREFUL this stuff is caustic and if slopped on anything . . .
paint the entire skull and put it in a plastic bag for about 2 days in the sun, I suggest placing white paper or something white and clean under it to ensure good reflected light.
As long as the paste is wet it is working, but 2 days is usually plenty- rinse the skull under clean running water and soak it in white vinegar solution about one cup to a gallon of water for 30 minutes or so.
There are a dozen different ways to do this, but this works for me . .
Here is a link from a science/zoologist teacher that uses detergent with enzymes and bleach, I ended up boiling a little in the end anyway, maybe check this method too.

Good luck, jeff

Dont need to boil it hard

This response submitted by John C on 11/15/99. ( )

Dont boil it hard, 160 degrees F is enough, scoop off the grease as it forms on top. You can use Hydrogen peroxide from the local wal-mart. you will need enough to cover it in a plastic bucket. WHen you have cleaned it a nd have but a few flesh tags hanging, go to the peroxide with it, cover it with a towel and check it daily. Degrease in mineral spirits when all flesh is gone. SEAL with WASCO Clear gloss in a spray can.

WARNING //// 40% can burn your skin and finger nails, cause severe damage when splashed into the eyes.//// The above is a safer method and works well. It is geared for the home taxidermist where safty should be a concern. JC

Return to Category Menu