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Powdery residue during degreasing?

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Raphite01, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Raphite01

    Raphite01 New Member

    My only bone project currently is a domestic cat skull I'm doing for a friend, so I'm seeing how far I can degrease it without pulling out the heaters. However, the inside of the 3-gallon bucket it's in is getting coated with rough substance that's white and powdery when scraped off, and I'm worried that it's a calcium compound and derived from the bone. The skull also has a thin, powdery coating. It's been degreasing for two or three months, but still has grease in the zygomatic and occipital regions.

    I macerated the skull, and for degreasing I'm only using dawn and plain ammonia, although it spent a week in acetone at one point. I've also noticed that with just dawn or just ammonia, the water stays clear. But with a combination of dawn and ammonia, the water will become cloudy over 24 hours. I assumed that this was grease in suspension, despite this being at room temperature, but now I'm worried that it's bone material.

    Any thoughts on whether this is just adipocere, some contaminant, damaged bone, etc?
  2. carlabrauer

    carlabrauer Quality bone cleaning with dermestid beetles

    Sounds like adipocere - I feel like it gets worse in cool water. From what you described, nothing you're doing would cause damage to the actual bone. If you aren't going to heat the water, you'll probably degrease faster just leaving the skull in acetone. You're probably getting some grease out with the ammonia, but I doubt the Dawn is doing much at room temp (unless you're having a heat wave like we are here!).

  3. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    If you are not going to use heat, then use straight ammonia. It won't get all of it though. Or use acetone. Without using heat you are going to do a poor job of degreasing. With something like a cat, if you had used water heated to 115, it would have been degreased in a month or so. What you are seeing is probably adipocere as mentioned above. You can tell by getting some on your fingers and rubbing it. Does it feel waxy or is it gritty? Cold water makes adipocere worse. In addition, once it is made you will not be able to remove it other than by scrubbing by hand. Any of it generated in the bone cavities inside will be there permanently.