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What might cause teeth to break apart during maceration?

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by sunparakeet, Feb 29, 2012.

  1. I've macerated dozens of skulls and have never had this problem but - today I was changing the water in my maceration buckets and noticed that there were a couple of broken teeth on an otter skull and a coyote skull. The teeth looked like they had just cracked right in half, and one tooth from the coyote skull was in at least three pieces. They were out of the socket.

    The teeth on these skulls were perfectly fine before I put them in the rot bucket (as far as I could tell). I have not done anything differently with the way I macerate - I use 5-gallon buckets with a bucket heater and a thermostat, and each skull is in its own ziploc bag and there are maybe 5 skulls in each bucket. The water temperature is around 95 degrees. I did not handle the skulls roughly and I am always trying to be careful when I change the water so as not to knock the skulls around. The only thing I have changed is the length of time I am macerating. I am trying to see if by macerating longer, I can cut down on the degreasing time. But I would think that would be easier on the skull/teeth because the water is not so hot? (By the way it seems to be working, some of the skulls have been "clean" for a week now but every few days I dump out a lot of greasy yellow water!)

    Any idea what may have caused this? The skulls were thawed when I initially put them into the rot bucket, and the water started out cold so I don't think it was a water temperature change thing. Is it just something that happens with some skulls because of the way that animal lived (maybe it was in poor condition when it was alive?)

    I know I can repair the teeth but I am just curious if anyone has any ideas or if this has happened to others. Thanks!
  2. Keyda81

    Keyda81 I'd rather be weird than normal

    I've never done maceration before, but I've heard that natural teeth do split after time. I had a coyote head I tried simmering, the smell was horrible, so I chucked it. But I did keep the two canine teeth. They were fine for a while, but then cracked.

  3. skullclnr

    skullclnr Active Member

    I wouldnt worry unless it starts happening to more of your skulls, I think it is just coincidence that they both happened at the same time. I have never had them crack when I rot, but that doesnt mean much

    Teeth are going to crack, make sure you tell your customers and other taxis you work for that you will do your best to seal them and prevent cracking but some times it just happens. Always seal canines and cats with a few coats of nail polish or paraloid before sending home.
  4. I second The Dog just bad luck.
  5. Yeah, it must just be a coincidence and bad luck. Although secretly I was hoping for some sort of super scientific explanation, come on guys! :)

    I know that the canines generally crack on predators but the ones that cracked weren't the large canine teeth, just a couple of random molar/premolar type teeth. Oh well!
  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    "I've never had teeth crack while macerating. Possibly something happened while they were frozen? A sharp bang to a frozen tooth could break it. Especially one on a younger animal. Also if the tooth was up against the element of the bucket heater. It will get hot enough at the metal surface to do that. Sealing the teeth when done is a must but this happened before it was cleaned. Certainly not the time as I have had some skulls take a few weeks to clean with no issues from sitting in the water. It is normally rapid fluctuations of heat/humidity that crack teeth. You should be able to repair them and the damage will be near invisible.
  7. It is possible that something happened to the skulls before I got them. A bunch came from a local trapper who may have banged them around before I got them. I guess that stuff is just beyond my control though!

    I am going to seal these skulls whenever I get a large batch finished. I will try Paraloid if I can find it for a decent price online!

    Thanks for the thoughts and advice, everyone.
  8. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Pretty much any site that sells paraloid *is* charging a decent price. The cost of the resin is not bad at all when you figure in that what you are sent lasts for well over a year and there is virtually no waste at all with this product. I get mine from these folks. In a period of several years, I have only purchased it twice. http://www.museumservicescorporation.com/scat/co.html
  9. Oh great! I will purchase it from that website. I assume I want to get the 100 % (item number F4022-001)?

    Also, if you don't mind telling me, what is your ratio of Paraloid to acetone? I'm wanting my skulls to be well-sealed but not overly shiny.

    Thanks so much!
  10. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Get the B-72. To be honest, I don't measure. Maybe someone who does can answer. I take a gallon of acetone (you can also use denatured alcohol) and dump in maybe 3 to 4 cups worth. Stir it all around and in a few days it's all dissolved (keep stirring it up once in a while). I test a skull with it and , if it seems too thin I add more. Too thick and I thin it out with a little more acetone. You can make a nice seal or make the coating look like plastic. It's up to you. I dunk the whole skull for a few moments and let it drip dry. That way all surfaces in and out are sealed.
  11. skullclnr

    skullclnr Active Member

    Beacuse of the medulia-oblingatta h34X particals combusting into the h2o ions of the sulferic reacatant you are rendering a liquid that poses signifigant tactile imperfections to the porus nature of the calcium hydroxide.
  12. .....................No.
  13. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I did neglect to mention that if you do use acetone, don't hold your head over the bucket for too long. :)
  14. Oh, duh. Now I feel dumb. I was thinking it was the h32X particles!! Thanks for clearing that up!
  15. skullclnr

    skullclnr Active Member

    No problem, u asked for a scientific answer....that's the best I could come up with :)