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looking for solvent

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by whitetail mike, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. I am in search of some cleaning solvent that I could soak bears and pigs in. I had a guy tell me that he puts his in a solvent to degrease the bears and it is expensive. The solvent wont shrink the skull so that you are able to measure it after it has been clean. I have been using acetone for years now but I am waiting for the day I blow my shop up. dawn and ammonia seems to take a while a long time and doesn't always get the grease out. I been doing this for about 7 years now and I am in search of something different. So anyone got any ideas? Thank you so much in advanced.

  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Ammonia works. I have also heard of Carbon tet, naptha, toluene and some other nightmarish stuff used. Some are non flammable but the risk of serious toxic exposure and illness keeps me with the Dawn and ammonia. Using heated Dawn/water, ammonia and acetone .. I have never had one with grease yet when done. I macerate them clean, not simmer. That process alone eats out a lot of the grease. Heating the Dawn to 115 to 120 does the trick. I tried heating ammonia once and couldn't stand the increase in fumes.

  3. I bug all of my skulls, Thanks for some thoughts seawolf. I never thought about heating my ammonia up to see if that may work.
  4. AH7

    AH7 New Member

    Here's a great solvent: water!

    I don't understand why there are so many people on here today looking for the "fast" way to degrease. I've tried a bunch of things, and have heard of even more (including some terrible chemicals!) and in the end, it always comes back to three main component that will do the job correctly 90% of the time: water, dawn and TIME! That other 10% can be accomplished with ammonia (which I avoid because the smell makes me ill) and acetone. Stop trying to figure out a better way. They've all been tried and anyone who tells you that they have a magic bullet is probably doing as much damage as good if they really do shave off days.
  5. Your joking, right?
  6. AH7

    AH7 New Member

    TMALONE - you're right, I shouldn't dissuade someone from trying to figure out a better way. Heck, I'm a professor and I tell my students all of the time to try to work stuff like this out for themselves. I just get frustrated with people who come on here regularly and say something like "my buddy told me that he uses some chemical that magically cleans bones perfectly and instantly, but he won't tell me what the chemical is. Do you know?" In other words, I'm all for experimenting - I've done a bunch myself, forced my students to do much more :) and have encouraged many people on here to try the same and let us know how it goes. What I am against is people pretending that there is some secret concoction that magically works if only their buddy would let them know what it is. That's pie in the sky type stuff. I've collected data at dozens of museums all over the world and have many friends who prepare bones at the greatest of these institutions, and I can tell you for a fact that no magic chemical is used to produce literally museum quality specimens. The people at Skulls Unlimited - who have cleaned more bones than all of us combined - do not use magic chemicals. They use the same stuff, and I've said it a million times, the absolute most important ingredient to this whole mix is TIME.

    Try what ever the heck you want, and please, if you do, post your results. But don't be duped with some claim of a magic approach. The big guys don't use any. If you do find one, then you might become a wealthy person - the wealthiest bone cleaner ever.
  7. SubShock

    SubShock New Member

    Another thing about ammonia when working with beetles, if you want your bugs to absolutely devour something, briefly dip it in ammonia and let it drip. You're not looking to soak it, but the residual will set them off. Great for if have to rehydrate dessicated flesh for beetles, the ones we had at least wouldn't touch re-hydrated flesh from dead heads.
  8. pyrobugs

    pyrobugs New Member

    I am fairly new to this . I have seen references to using ammonia. Where is the best place to get it and is it pure ammonia.
  9. pyrobugs, You should be able to find clear ammonia at your local supermarket, Lowes, or Wally World. It will be about 3%, which is plenty strong. Ace hardware sells "Janitorial Strength" ammonia, which is 10%. It may be cheapest to buy that and dilute it down to 3%. In any case, wear gloves and work in a very well ventilated area.
  10. Voltrax

    Voltrax New Member

  11. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    The 10% hardware stuff is frightfully strong. I also have no fear with acetone. Read respect, not fear. Treat it like gasoline and you will be fine.
    Expensive+no shrinkage=Acetone
  12. I thought about using acetone and other chemicals, but there are the environmental disposal concerns as well, along with the danger and expense. I did try lacquer thinner but it was too dangerous in winter with the open flame heater in my garage and did not work well at low temps. The dawn and ammonia works, but the heated ammonia does make it smell bad. If you add the green apple Dawn, it smells worse than a skull you left the brains in. :eek:
    I do have about six of my own bear skulls to do. I am going to measure them and quantify the shrinkage using the heated dawn and heated dawn and Ammonia. When done, which may be 6 months to a year before I have time, I hope to post my findings.
  13. The easiest and cheapest place to get ammonia is your local dollar store.
  14. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    More than likely but you also have to make sure you do not buy colored or scented types. The hardware store type is more expensive but it is also very much stronger.
  15. Absolutely! Lemon flavored ammonia? Well scented, but the point is first, it smells like lemon cat pee. It does degrease but not very well. Dollar stores such as family dollar, dollar general, dollar colonel, dollar tree and do forth sell it for a buck a bottle. The bottles are 64oz. You actually get about a cup more than that. I can fill 4 pots with one bottle or 9 with 2 bottles. Silly huh? I have tried various amounts but settled on 2 cups to three gallons of water. Heated water is what expands the porosity of the bone material. I soak heads gor the first round of degreasing in straight water. This saves on ammonia and over 24 hours produces the same initial results.