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Skull flaking after whitening with BO

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Scoop7707, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. I have a skull that has the very top layer of skull flaking off. I used beetles, then degreased at 118F with dawn and a cup of ammonia in 5 gallons of water. I whitened by soaking in BO to get the nasal bones and teeth white for three days, then whitened the top of the skull with BO and Basic White. It needed two treatments. I did a second at the same time in the same bucket with the same whitening procedure and it is not flaking at all.

    This is the first time this has happened with any skull I have done.
    Any ideas on what may have happened? How do I take care of the flaking skull. There are loose flakes only on the top where I put the BO and Basic White mixture. The BO soak did not touch the top of the skull where it is flaking.
    One more thing. The same Basic White and BO mixture was used on both. I did the skulls at the same time and mixed up enough for both.
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Is the problem one a very young animal? Can't say that I have seen this before but I only whiten in BO for several hours or overnight. Not for days.

  3. No, the skull is an older whitetail. The only place where it is peeling is where I put the BO/Basic White on the skull. That part of the skull was not soaked in BO liquid.
    At first I thought it was a layer of Basic White that did not rinse off and it is paper thin, but it is bone. The bone under is solid and the flakes are raising up off the skull. I somehow need to feather the edges of the flakes and I think paraloid the skull to make sure it does not flake in the future.

    The really odd thing is I did the two skulls at the same time, same degreasing bucket, same soak, same whitening mix. The other is perfect.
  4. bulldog4949

    bulldog4949 "Mounting your Memories"

    Did the skulls have any metal/bullet fragments causing the BO to get hot hot hot? I have and this was the same effect. The BO gets almost too hot to touch with gloves on.
  5. I can't say that isn't a possibility, but I have not seen any. I am wondering if I got a metal shaving that fell on the BO Basic White when it was on the skull or something.

    Anyone have any ideas on how to feather the flaking before I put on the paraloid?
  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Doesn't sound like a metal flake issue. As a thought, wet the top of the skull and let it sit for a while, see if that layer that you see .. peels off. There is a tough layer on the surface of some skulls and I have seen this on deer. Maceration seems to dissolve it but the beetles may have left it intact. If it is indeed bone, try a VERY light sanding with extra extra fine sandpaper to take down the rough edges.
  7. Thanks for the help Sea Wolf and Bulldog. I appreciate all the help.
  8. Update, I soaked the skull and did get a couple more small flakes, but not many. There are only four bones on the skull that are flaking. The others are fine. I did end up sanding to feather the edges. I tried 1,000 grit, then went down to 400 and finally down to 220 after my arm started cramping up. The 220 worked well at feathering the edges and not leaving the shiny surface the finer grits were. The rest of the bone that is part of the flake layer is solid and the skull looks great now.

    My wife kept getting upset with me because I would not give it to the customer the way it was. Especially with the lower prices I have to charge due to a local person doing this for a very low price. She does not understand that I will not cut corners. I take pride in my work and will only do it right. Sure, with the time involved, I lost money on this one, but this is someone's trophy, possibly of a lifetime, and I will only do my best for them and because my name will be associated with it and the amount I get paid has nothing to do with it.
    Thanks for the help.
  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Hopefully, Scoop .. after doing it for a while, customers will begin seeing a difference between yours and "theirs". As more customers start coming in, tweak up your prices. Hunters will definitely want the better looking one. You should not mention names in your shop but you can also do a yours and someone elses comparison set up display. A lot of people will not understand the difference unless it is in a side by side comparison. You can also do one of your own as a lot of shops just boil it clean. Boil one clean and let it be. Do a complete job with one of yours and use those as comparison pieces.
  10. Thanks SeaWolf.
    I definitely would not mention any names or talk down about anyone's work, however I do like your idea of setting an example side by side. I have one here my brother-in-law had done for my wife. I thought it looked great until I got into doing these myself. I would have never sent that out to my customer. Of course maybe I would have lost them when it took longer to get it from me, but I just can't do anything but my best no matter what.

    Thanks for all your help SeaWolf. I notice, you spend a lot of time helping everyone without getting anything but satisfaction out of it. I want to say thanks and I know a lot of us notice and appreciate it.
  11. When looking back at this skull, i think the what caused the problem was the additional time soaking in the BO. This skull had some staining that that I needed to get out. I will definitely not soak for as long in BO again. Once the sanding was done, the paraloid took care of everything and I don't worry about any other flaking in the future. the paraloid is great stuff.
  12. It sounds like it's calcification. I see a few every year that for no apparent reason, start flaking.
  13. Thanks Scarab, I was wondering if it was calcification of the periosteum. That is the only thing that would be covering the bone in a thin layer like that. I did not know that could happen. But then again, I have worked mostly with human skeletons and have seen some really odd soft tissues calcify.
  14. Human? Usually I'm disposing of the bones when it comes to humans. But I've said too much......
  15. I hear you scarab ;D