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Skull Maceration Questions

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Michael Mohr, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    So I started macerating a bear skull about a week and a half ago. The temp stays pretty close to 90 degrees. I changed half the water 4 days in and changed half the water today. All the meat has come off but there's still a white film in places. I'm assuming this is fat? Will it come off with a few more day's or a week of soaking? Do I need to take it out and do something to it to get it off and then start degreasing? This is the first skull I've ever done this way so I don't really know what I'm doing. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. HuntersUnion

    HuntersUnion Member

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    I am macerating for the first as well. Mine are also covered in fat, I am scrubbing it off by hand which is a pain but I assume it is normal. I am not degreasing these skulls but if you are, I'm sure it will come off during degreasing. Good luck, I'm not the person to ask for help macerating. I beetle clean usually.
     

  3. Megan :)

    Megan :) Well-Known Member

    I toss skulls like that straight into degreasing without any problems. It should come off then.

    Edited because I put a double space between two words and it really bothered me, lol.
     
  4. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Should I take a brush or knife and try to scrape some off or just throw it in the degreaser? If I should scrape some off, should I do it with it wet or let it dry some first?
     
  5. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    How about a few pictures? Does it seem like fat or is it a thin layer of tissue/membrane? Macerating will generate a waxy sort of converted fat called adipocere. That will scrub right off with an old toothbrush and some detergent. Usually, before tossing in to degrease, I give skulls a once over with the toothbrush. Be careful not to lose any teeth! If what you see is a tissue membrane, you can try leaving it in a little longer or see if you can strip it off. Wear gloves as there will still be bacteria on it at this point
     
    Megan :) likes this.
  6. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    I'll try and get a picture tomorrow or friday. Its been a couples days so I really don't know how I'd describe it. I know if you rubbed on it, it would get some on my gloves and it was greasy feeling. If I remember correctly it was mostly on like the roof of the mouth and on the lower jaw where it would be connected to the skull. But I'll get some pictures so you have a better idea of what I have.
     
  7. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Here are a couple of pictures so you can see what I'm talking about. 20181115_051114.jpg 20181115_051241.jpg
     
  8. Megan :)

    Megan :) Well-Known Member

    If it is fat, then I can say I've scrubbed skulls with an old toothbrush (while wet and with dawn dish soap) to get the waxy fat off, but I wouldn't take a knife to it.
    Sea Wolf has popped into this post, she is VERY knowledgeable, I would take her advice over mine LOL
     
  9. HuntersUnion

    HuntersUnion Member

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    This is how mine look too after maceration, also some crumbly black (meat?) and all the holes are packed with this fatty goo. After being in the degreasing tank for a week, little has changed. The white fatty goo is still all over it and in all the holes. It scrubs off but not without considerable effort to pick in all the cracks and holes and scrubbing with different brushes. It does not hose off with hot water and considerable water pressure.
    I am noticing that there is little to no grease coming out of the bear skull in the degreasing water. Compared to beetle cleaning a considerable amount of grease has been removed during maceration. This is a huge plus.

    I am now weighing the pros and cons of beetle vs macerate. Beetles are fast if you have one skull at a time, a freezer is needed to accomplish a feeding schedule and preserve bugs. Maceration allows for multiple items to be done at once and possibly faster then beetles if your doing many items, with little to no attention. It stinks and there is more labour in the scrubbing and the gluing end of things, when it comes to bears anyway. There is also no care for beetles and heaters would only be run when macerating, where as beetles require a constant environment.

    These are just some thoughts I wanted to share about my experiments in maceration from a "beetle cleaners" stand point. :)

    ** these bears are just being cleaned here and returning to a taxidermist for finishing. Otherwise I would continue degreasing and hope the fat would eventually melt away. I had to scrub them by hand because of this.
     
  10. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Good to know. I picked up a cheap electric toothbrush from the dollar store. Thought I might try that on it. But I don't know how I'm going to get it all out of the little holes and whatnot if it doesn't come out with soaking. Maybe my water got too cold during the nights, I don't know. Maybe I should havery started with a deer instead of a bear first. Lol
     
  11. Looks pretty normal to me. I'd usually give it a good rinsing to get all the loose stuff off and go ahead and start degreasing with some ammonia added. After a day or two pull it, give it a decent scrub and back in with fresh water. As for the little holes, I find it easier to let it dry out and hit them with pipe cleaners, tooth picks, whatever will fit. Don't forget to turn up your heat when you go to degrease.
     
  12. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Glad to hear it's normal. Does it stink in the degreaser? Should I leave it outside or can I bring it into my basement for this part?
     
  13. The ammonia is pretty potent but I usually only use it the first couple water changes to kick start the degreasing. After that it's just soap and water and doesn't stink at all.
     
  14. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Perfect. The temperature for degreasing is 110?
     
  15. Kevin Strock

    Kevin Strock Member

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    Are u using soda ash?
     
  16. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    I figure I will use dawn and water.
     
  17. Kevin Strock

    Kevin Strock Member

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    Soda ash pulls all fats out and whitens at the same time but does take to..l have beetles so all the flesh is gone when I degrease
     
  18. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Don't use soda ash when macerating. Water only and the temp should be 115 degrees for degreasing things like bears. Soda will ruin a skull in short order if not used properly and, even then, there is a very thin line that is easily crossed. As for the gunk on the skull, were large chunks of flesh left on the jaw hinge at that point? Most of that looks like stuff that just got halted and not rotted off completely. If the water was not 80 to 90 degrees 24/7 then it interrupts the process. All of that pictured though should come off with a good brushing and detergent. I would not have bought an electric toothbrush for this. Good, stiff bristled toothbrushes are fine. Pipe cleaners and detergent and thin wires work well for any holes. Give it a good scrubbing and right into the degreaser step
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
    Megan :) likes this.
  19. Michael Mohr

    Michael Mohr New Member

    Yes, there was a lot of meat left on the jaw hinges. I had never seen a bear skull before and didn't want to get too close and risk scratching the bone with the knife. Thanks for all your help. I will pull it out and scrub it up and start degreasing.
     
  20. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Before you let it sit in the degreaser, run a stiff wire with a hook bent into the end into the hollow areas of the lower jaw on both sides. There will be a considerable amount of loose material caught in there that you can fish out.
     
    Megan :) likes this.