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While degreasing Deer Skull, Skull falls apart. "Crumbles"

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Rob, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. Rob

    Rob Member

    I have a question that I hope someone can give me some idea as to what happened. I was degreasing a deer skull using a Bucket heater in a 70 Quart Heavy Duty Muck Tub with 2" pink insulation covering the top of the bucket. I cut a separate hole out of the insulation for a bucket to put the skull in. I all so cut a hole for the bucket heater to fit down into the water. I all so stuck a thermometer in the 70 quart Tub to keep an eye on the water temperature which stayed at 200 degrees. The bucket was filled with water and some Dawn Dish soap and the skull was placed in the bucket. I all so put towels around the bucket and the deer skull so the water would not evaporate so fast, and the water temp would stay hot. I added water to the bucket 3 times a day to keep the water level above the skull. I started out for 2 weeks changing the water every other day. The next 2 weeks I would change the water every other day. The last week I would change the water twice a week . That would be my degreasing time. I have never had this happen to me before as I have done quite a few. I am assuming the water got too hot but am not certain. Any help would be greatly appreciated.. Not looking forward to telling the customer.
  2. Not sure but may be the temp. 200 sounds awfully hot.

  3. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    At 200 degrees you cooked the bone to death and destroyed it.
  4. xxohmycaptainxx

    xxohmycaptainxx Member

    Definitely way too hot.. The hottest I've ever set a skull at to degrease was when I was working on a whitetail doe for myself and I put it at 140*F for a couple days to really break up all the grease. But that was only for a few days. After that temps were brought back down to 125*F and the skull finished degreasing two weeks later. Probably one of the whitest skulls in my collection.
  5. AH7

    AH7 New Member

    At that high temp, you cooked the collagen out of the bone - it is the protein that keeps all of the mineral part together. Bones are essentially made from dry crumbly minerals (like talc or cheap chalk) and glues (like elmers). The minerals give the bones substance, and the proteins give it strength. The old school experiment has you put one bone in vinegar for a week or two and roast another bone at a high temperature. The vinegar removes the minerals and the bone becomes flexible - you can literally tie it in a knot. The roasting denatures the proteins leaving just the minerals - the bone becomes crumbly. You did the latter experiment!

    The good news is, that is the same way you make a really nice cooking stock. Your broth is probably sumptuous and ready for soup.

    Unless you are making soup, keep your heat temps low. I do both my maceration and degreasing at about 118F with great results, though most people would tell you that I am a bit low for degreasing and I'm sure you can get a bit faster if you take their advice.
  6. Rob

    Rob Member

    Since I got a skull in late this year, I used my smaller degreasing tank using the bucket heater. Ended up getting the water temp way to hot. It makes you feel sick, especially when the skull is not yours. I can do an Antler mount out of it, just hope the owner is in favor of it. A valuable lesson learned.
  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    That bucket heater will be fine for degreasing if you set it up with a thermostat. There is a very good thread on here, with pictures, on how to wire it. Use the Advanced Search and search for "Caveman bucket heater" and you will find it. It is also here. Make sure to read through the whole thing and look at all the pictures. http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,135484