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Alternatives to Degreasing with Gas

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by quackdoctor, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. What are some safer products to use to degrease birds? For over 40 years, I have washed my bird skins in Dawn and then degreased them with gas, odorless mineral spirits, or camp fuel. I am starting to have some health problems related to breathing in petroleum products. I work in a well-ventilated area, and I use nitrile gloves, but I need to find a safer way to degrease birds. Any suggestions? I have heard that there is a new "orange" degreaser. Has anyone tried it? Also, does anyone use Napthol to degrease birds? Are there health risks associated with using Napthol?
  2. RTF

    RTF Active Member

    Maybe I'm not doing it right, but I have always just soaked in Dawn changing the water frequently until it is clear. One wash just wont do it.

  3. SteveP

    SteveP New Member

    I wash with Dawn, rinse, Dawn, rinse, Dawn again, rinse, rinse, rinse, and maybe rinse again if needed.
  4. Several rinses in Dawn works very well to clean the grease, dirt, and blood, but the second step of rinsing the skin in a petroleum product seems to slightly dissolve the oil in the feathers, allowing a natural sheen or luster to the colors in the feathers. It also increases drying time. I have found that there is also a danger in stripping too much natural oil out of the feathers by overdoing the washing process.

    Can anyone suggest a product perhaps sold by a taxidermy supply company that can be used safely and yield the same result?

    I may be "old school" in my methods, but I figure if anybody could offer some insight on this topic, it would be you guys and gals who hang out in the Bird Taxidermy section of the forum.
  5. Paul C

    Paul C New Member

    There are some things that simply can't be improved upon Dale. :-\ Use with good ventilation, take the precautions you have been taking and perhaps wear a respirator for the drying part is all that I can offer. People keep trying to reinvent the wheel or look for ways to make something that is easy much harder. Good luck!
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I think you mean "naphthol". Regardless, it's not good for your health either. (http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0667.htm)

    As far as the "old ways" being better, I've never bought into that and I've used soap forever (much to the chagrin of Paul and Ron, I won't ever be a gasoline ass). I HAD friends from the old days whose lives were questionably shortened by breathing lacquer fumes constantly and using arsenic soap and lead earliners and all that stuff Big Brother won't let you have anymore.

    I THINK Nancy Crocker has used soap exclusively for some time and I still think her birds are as sweet as any I see from people who use solvents.

    I would suggest using a bit stronger soap to dissipate the fats. Dawn has a pH of about 8 - just a tad more alkali than water. Eliminator from Van Dykes is about 10 while Epo-Grip Bloodout/Degreaser is an 11. Both are strong soaps and you'll need to be careful in overexposing "light" or white birds to heavy concentrations of them. I call it "flash burn" where extended exposure can tint your feathers yellow. I mix them 40:1 (water:soap) and never leave them over 15 minutes a wash. It sometimes takes 2-3 washes to get them done properly.
  7. I can't handle fumes. They really make my head spin so this is exactly what I've been doing. It's a pain to wear one, but I'm generally good to go after the drying & can remove the mask.
  8. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

    Tony Fanizzo suggested using odorless Mineral Spirit’s a couple of years ago.
    It is not as flammable as the other products you mentioned, does a great job but is still a petroleum product.
  9. Shawn73

    Shawn73 Active Member

    i just starting tanning mine with liquid cure and add kemal 4. after severl washes with dawn. I starting doing this cause im stuck working indoors(too cold this winter) and i think im just going to stick with it im very happy with this.
  10. Good suggestions, George. I'll give the stronger soaps a try. I've got to get away from the petroleum products. I don't want to die from stubbornness or ignorance. I always appreciate your advice and your willingness to help.

    Odorless mineral spirits (turpentine) was my first choice for years, riverrat. Borax and turps is an old standard practice in taxidermy, but we are finding out that trace elements of petroleum products build up in one's system over time. It causes problems in the kidneys, bladder, lungs, and liver. Certain toxins can be inhaled and enter the bloodstream, which is filtered by the liver and the kidneys. These toxins can even be absorbed through the skin. Unfortunately, many of the products that taxidermists are exposed to are hazardous to our health.
  11. I use Rittal's Super Solvent and love. Give it a try. It's a great surfactant/soap to use.
  12. Good! I never thought of that, Doug.

    I took a look at your website. Great! I especially like the pictures of your shop. Now, that's a paint hood!
  13. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    i have always used ordorless mineral spirits...i think you will find it will seperate the remaining grease from the skin and feathers as good as you think the gas does...
  14. TaxidermyJunky

    TaxidermyJunky New Member

    This is the way i have been doing it and love it screw gas that chit just scary ;)

    Nancy's Tutorial
  15. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    And you have gas impurities all over your feathers. Ron, let's not get back to that tired ass argument. Half of you gas guys claim you use it only to displace the water while the others claim it "dissolves" fats and grease. REGARDLESS, Quackdoctor states that he has HEALTH ISSUES AND NO LONGER WANTS TO USE GAS. I knew a guy who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day from the time he was 12 till his death of natural causes at 92. I guess he felt the same way about cigarettes causing lung cancer.
  16. Over the years, I've also tried the process shown in Nancy's tutorial, and I have no problems with doing birds that way. It certainly is much safer.
  17. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    try denatured alcohol I use it for prepping small mammal skins for f.d. and some songbird skins....tumbles and dries similar to coleman fuel with no fumes....little spendy but you can "freeze" the water/ice out of it and use it over
  18. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Denatured alcohol is as much if not more dangerous than petroleum products. If you can smell DA, it's going to give you excruciating headaches and joint pain.
  19. byrdman

    byrdman Well-Known Member

    really? never had that problem...wring out and throw in tumbler....when blowing there is no smell.....what else is the danger of it?
  20. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    It absorbs quickly through the skin. It is poisonous and my cause organic damage when passed through the skin or the fumes inhaled.