Bleaching skulls, which products are best and worst?

Submitted by Keifer on 2/19/02. ( )

Can everyone out there please give me you opinions and experience with some of the best and worst bleaching products for whitening skulls. any ad all advice would be helpfull and much appreciated. thank you

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This response submitted by wayne on 2/19/02. ( )

the archives with the search button to the left of your screen.
Tons of info. Whatever you use, don't use chlorine bleach.

What is best Vanilla or Chocolate

This response submitted by John C on 2/19/02. ( )

What you will find are opinions. Try all the methods and use the one that suites you best.

Use Hair Developer (20 or 40 vol)

This response submitted by Wildernesstrails on 2/20/02. ( )

Hair developer is a very potent hydrogen peroxide. You can get it at beauty supply places. It works Awesome! It will eat away any little bits of meat you may have forgot. I even soak my sheep and antelope cores in it to eat up any meat high in the sinus cavity. After boiling skull and removing all of meat, soak in developer for a couple of hours then rinse. My skulls are coming out as close to using the dermestid beetles as possible.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 2/20/02. ( )

Wayne is correct in his assertion that the archives have some important information, and also that Chlorine Bleach should not be used lightly. The sodium in the bleach will attack the bone material and ultimately do damage.

Hydrogen Peroxide is the universal standard and can be purchased in strong concentrations from Chemical Companies, and some hair salons. I am not sure that I would want to use the stuff with whiteners added. If hair can be badly damaged by bleaching, the basic building block is Collagen, also is a componant in bone and can be damaged.

3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide will work, the kind purchased from the grocery store - buy a sufficient quantity to immerse the skull overnight or a day or so, and the skull will brighten up considerably. I personally don't like the blinding white color of overbleached skulls, preferring the natural bone color. Secondly, a natural skull has a build up of tarter on the bones which can be benefitial for aging the skull (gum line in relation to tooth wear) and the tarter can make a tooth look better - ever see the neat pattern on an unbleached porky tooth. Peroxide will lighten also the color of the incisors of rodents - leading to innacuracies in color. Professional Preparators in Research Mammal Collections NEVER bleach the skulls unless they are to be used for exhibit purposes.

If you wish to bleach a skull without affecting the tarter either the teeth can be removed prior to bleaching, or a non-damaging silicon can be painted over the teeth during the peroxide soak and then removed afterwards. This also can reduce swelling of the teeth which can lead to cracking.

Purchasing Peroxide in strong concentrations in bulk is ultimately much cheaper than drug store or grocery store bottles and it can be diluted down. But peroxide will loose its strength over time, so only buy what you will use within a year.

Try Cream Hair Bleach ...

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 2/20/02. ( )

I use cream type hair bleach, available at all Sally's Beauty Supply stores. It is very thick, and will stay put pretty well on vertical surfaces. This is especially useful on large skulls! It works best if the skull is thoroughly wetted with warm to hot water, after which you can brush on the bleach and let it set.

After a few hours, rinse, and repeat as needed.

I have used this type of bleach and have been able to remove old blood stained areas from "field cleaned" skulls.

The best thing is there no soaking, so it is very easy to use. However ... ALWAYS wear good rubber gloves, like the Platex brand kitchen cleaning gloves. Latex gloves are just a little too thin when using these types of chemicals!

Try it ... it works.

Good luck!


This response submitted by Tim Jackson on 2/21/02. ( )

Go to a beauty supply store and by a tub of basic white(by clairol) and a bottle of 40%hydrogen peroxide and mix to a tooth paste consistancey and smear it all over the skull and let it sit till dry for 12 or 15 hrs. then rinse with cold water and they will be white as snow.

Bleaching skulls

This response submitted by Chuck on 3/4/02. ( )

All the above will work I like the 40 % hydrogen peroxide mix best put out in sun for few days .
But you need to wash skulls off with Arm & Hammer baking soda
mix in bucket and let soak for few hours then wash off again .Good luck.

Bleaching skulls

This response submitted by Jerry C. on 10/28/2002. ( )


Never bleached a skull before. I assume you cut off all the skin before you boil it. Do you want to remove all the flesh before you start to boil?


Don't BOIL skulls!

This response submitted by Wolfwoman on 11/21/2002. ( )

Hi JC,
I'm probably gonna get some opposition on posting this method here, but I use it and it works great for me and I've sold quite a few skulls to happy customers. Email me if you'd like pics!

1. Remove as much meat as you possibly can with a knife.

2. I have a big pot that I can STEAM in on low heat. I use the bottom to my pressure cooker (metal plate that has holes in it-if you don't have one of these turn a pie tin upside down and cut holes in it) in the bottom of a big pot. Put a couple cups of water in for steaming, place the skull on a (different) pie tin so the skull is not sitting in the water. Steam for about 20 minutes before checking it and removing any excess meat that you didn't get off before (remember HOT). LEAVE the nose cartilage alone, that will come off later! Repeat as needed to get as much off as you can. The reason I steam rather than boil or simmer, is the high heat from doing that can crack canines. Take something wire that you can make a hook out of (such as a coat hanger) and hook out the brains. Be careful not to go into the nose cavity from the back and damage the delicate bones in there.

3. After I've gotten as much meat and cartilage off the skull as I can I have a 10 gallon aquarium that I place the skull in hot tap water and keep the water warm with an aqarium heater on the highest setting.

4. Let the skull sit in the water for about a week, take it out and rinse off with warm water, a lot of the flesh will come off. You can use a brush to scrub a lot of it off at this point. If the nose cartilage hasn't fallen off by now, don't worry it will! Start watching for loose teeth at this point, some of them will fall into the bottom of the aquarium. Make sure you fish em out and keep em. Also watch for them to fall into the sink when you're cleaning, they're impossible to get out of a drain!

5. Place back in FRESH water and let sit for another week and repeat. By now 99.9% of the flesh should be gone, if not do it one more time, some skulls are more stubborn that others.

6. Once all the flesh, cartilage, etc has been removed place the skull in a peroxide bath. I just buy it from WalMart (3% solution) and let it sit for a day or two to whiten. If you want to whiten overnight you can go to a beauty supply store and buy 40% peroxide (DONT get this stuff on your skin or in your eyes!).

7. Remove the skull, let it dry off for a day, replace all the teeth (that you've also cleaned) with a small amount of glue, let it dry for about 2-3 more days and you're done!

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