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rookie question on setup & process

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by TX SPUD, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. TX SPUD

    TX SPUD New Member

    First. Hello from TX! Glad I found this site and hope to learn and contribute here!

    Doing the maceration process on a whitetail. I've boiled and used bugs but this is my first one with water.

    I am using a plastic trash can and put the skull in and filled with water just about the top of skull. After reading some I piccked up a 150w aquarium heater and put in yesterday along wiith a digital thermomter that I can read without opening the lid.

    I checked it today and noticed a good amout of condensation on the sides and lid of can. Kinda expected with heating water. But I noticed the antlers look like they are absorbing water and a tad different color.

    What is the due to? Normal? Color go back to normal?

    What about my setup? Good? Bad? Changes?
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Absorbing water? Are these velvet antlers or hardened adult ones? Possibly what you can try is to see if the skull will fit into a 5 gallon bucket. Wrap the bucket with some insulation to keep the heat in and set it on some foam insulation to protect the bottom. You can then leave the antlers exposed and they should be fine. In the larger, humid enclosed area they might get a touch of mold on them. If the antlers are submerged a little in the water you can seal them to just above the water line but the rotting water shouldn't hurt them.

  3. TX SPUD

    TX SPUD New Member

    Hard antlers...absorbing water may have been a bad term. I just know they are a different color now. I didn't have but the skull and just the very bottoms of the antlers in the water. Lots of condensation though in the container and on the antlers.

    I have it out drying now and hoping the color returns. Also, I noticed how loose the bones are when it was finished! Amazing what water can do. I'm assuming they will tighten while drying??
  4. I've had antlers get a little bit darker with maceration where they touch the water. They always go back to normal when everything dries out though. I've found that it's a good idea to keep as much of the antler out of the maceration water as possible because they will absorb the smell. When you peroxide the skull to whiten it, the smell will be gone from the bones but the antlers will still stink!

    Also, sometimes when I'm done macerating the skull I'll rinse it off a bit and put it back in clean water to macerate it for another week. Don't know if that really does anything... but it seems to get the smell out of the antlers, and I think helps with degreasing as there are still bacteria in the bones eating the grease :)

    If the bones are loose you can use Elmer's glue and a zip-tie or just some string or metal wire to hold everything in place until the glue dries.
  5. The "darkening" of the antlers probably is caused by the fats and oils given off by the rotting process.....scrub them down with a bristle brush and some dawn detergent and remove the fats and oil discoloration.

    We've used clear caulking with great success while covering the burrs and part of the main beams while bleaching.....should work for macerated skulls as well.
  6. TX SPUD

    TX SPUD New Member

    thanks for the replies..I checked it this morning and the antler color is back to normal. just had a little freak out moment.

    I did a search on loose bones last night and figured out this is normal and with rubber bands they will tighten as it dries. I'm about to start my degreasing process today
  7. aboutpostal

    aboutpostal Member

    good idea using clear caulking, i am gonna try it this week