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All that FAT! Removing grease and why you should heat.

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Sea Wolf, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Guus

    Guus Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Thanks for the info Sea Wolf!

    I have had some good results with ammonia and Bio tex to get rid of adipocere. I got some sheep skulls that were macerated in warm water and got quite some adipocere all over the skull. I rinsed them and put them later on in a bath of ammonia and Bio tex, a soap with enzymes. At 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) a lot of the adipocere came of. Not everything, but the difference was quite big. See the picture below, left is before, right after a week in the ammonia/Bio tex solution. Otherwise I don't think there is a solution that will dissolve adipocere, I have talked with quite some people about it, but nobody seems to have found a solution to it.

  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Yes. The waxy residue is a nuisance. Fortunately it comes off with a scrub with a stiff brush and detergent. I have not found a magic bullet for it either yet. I use brushes down to a toothbrush and smaller in size for tight areas. At least it does come off.

  3. Ryaskgoldengryph

    Ryaskgoldengryph New Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Regarding the adipocere, it seems that the formation is caused anaerobically (without oxygen) in maceration, so I wonder if it could be reduced by having a water aerator/agitator in the maceration step of cleaning.

    The other thing I wonder about, would be the use of hydroxides to degrease. Traditionally, soap was made from the mixing of a hydroxide (usually sodium hydroxide) to rendered animal fat, thereby producing a molecule hydrophobic and hydrophilic. Theoretically, this could be used to effectively turn the grease in a skull into soap. Then, with a little agitation, it would be all flushed out, and act to clean on the way. Since there are a wide array (including sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and calcium hydroxide)... has anyone tested these for this purpose, and are there issues (probably with some of the hydroxides) dissolving, or otherwise attacking bone?
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Someone else can chime in but the above will also dissolve the calcium in bone. Drano and bone equals goo and no skull. A lot of the grease and oils we deal with are in the bone strata itself. Turn that into soap and that will be a lot more difficult to get out than a soft oil that a detergent will break down and flush out easily.

    There was a post on here some time ago where someone told him to soak his bear skull in a bucket with drain cleaner (hydroxides) to clean it of flesh. It was just overnight and there was nothing left of the skull but something akin to sand in the morning. Might have been grease free sand, but it was not the cleaned skull he was hoping for.
  5. Re: All that FAT!

    I've also noticed and I'm sure other people have too, that the adipocere buildup is WAY higher when you try to do cold-water maceration. I set a deer skull in a bucket of water and just left it all winter because it was pretty nasty and I didn't care about it that much. I just got around to macerating it in warm water a couple weeks ago and it came out covered in adipocere. There is a thin flaky film over the entire skull. Its like it never gets done degreasing. I put it in a bucket with Dawn and hot water and it's completely clouded over the next day.

    Also, skulls that are fresh and go straight into the maceration bucket AS SOON AS POSSIBLE seem to get less adipocere. The ones that have been in the freezer forever, or are totally mummified, seem to get it bad.

    An agitator in a maceration setup would probably... get real nasty. Real fast.
  6. Rizzo

    Rizzo Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Great info thanks.
  7. Re: All that FAT!

    I wonder if an aquarium pump with a balled up stocking on the end of the hose would be enough for some agitation and would also aerate the maceration bucket at the same time. Check valve so you don't get back wash. The stockings are easily replaceable when they get too nasty and the whole thing is pretty cheap. I will try this with my next skeleton and let people know if it changed anything.
  8. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Re: All that FAT!

    Would be curious. Also interested if you get a horrid wall of putrid foam creeping up out of the bucket. One thing I would be afraid of.
  9. bobaloo11

    bobaloo11 New Member

    Great lesson, Professor!
  10. Randy

    Randy Huntin Chamios on Mount Cook, New Zealand

    What do you all use to keep the temperature at about 120F ? Aquarium heater? a different type of heater?

  11. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I don't do a lot of deer. Most of what I do are predators and other animals. I have several Aqueon aquarium heaters that have been hacked to run at 115 degrees. For deer I have a larger insulated container of water that I heat to 120 with a water heater element and thermostat. Individual skulls are put in buckets with degreaser and floated in that tank. If I only have one to do, I can use a smaller cooler set up the same way or even on the top of the stove with thermometer and a very watchful eye. Deer skulls can degrease a lot faster than some others. I also have a gas stove with one burner that can be precisely controlled. That helps a lot.
  12. joeym

    joeym Jeannette & Joey @ Dunn's Falls

    An oldie, but a goodie! Thanks for re-sharing!
  13. Truckless Yooper

    Truckless Yooper New Member

    How do you hack them to run hotter?
  14. Truckless Yooper

    Truckless Yooper New Member

    Would a souvide cooker work?
  15. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Use the Search function and try looking for Aqueon Heater for starters maybe use the word hack too. There are a lot of posts on it.

    It would .. but .. unless you find a really cheap one, the ones I priced a few years ago were too pricey to experiment with that. I am tempted to try but, in reality, the guts of those are designed to be circulating nothing but pure water. I have no idea what detergent and ammonia would do to the internal working parts of one or how long it would last. Nor how well it would work being on 24/7 for a few weeks.
    Truckless Yooper likes this.
  16. Truckless Yooper

    Truckless Yooper New Member

    Thank you!
  17. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member