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Help With Ammonia Method

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Vulpes Vulpes, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Sea Wolf and other experts, I need your help.

    Backstory: My friend called me after a fox was attacking a weak fawn. The fawn died soon after. It's hair was already slipping before it died--must have been really sick, maybe dehydrated?

    I searched this forum extensively and read all the top posts on maceration, skull and skeleton prep. I still have some questions.

    I removed the skin and much of the meat from the skeleton. I sealed the bones into a 5-gal plastic bucket with 1 quart of 10% ammonia mixed in at room temp. I know a higher concentration of Ammonia would work faster.

    1) How long should I let the bone sit before checking?
    2) Can I put them back into the same solution after scrubbing them if I still smell Ammonia? (It's kinda amazing how well those Home Depot buckets seal. The bucket is inside the house and I cannot smell one ppm of ammonia when I put my nose right to it.)
    3) How much Dawn should I put into 5 gallons of water to for the grease-removal bath. (I plan to keep Ammonia and Dawn baths separate despite much debate on the topic.)
    4) Should I heat the water with Dawn? If yes, how hot?
    5) I will drill holes into the leg bones to aid with marrow and grease removal. Do I need to do this to the ribs or other bones too?
    6) Once everything looks clean, I will let it dry and soak in 12% hydrogen peroxide, then set the bones in the sun to dry for a few days before starting the puzzle. Am I missing anything?

    Attached Files:

  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Not at all sure what you are trying to do. Whatever method you are using, it is not one I am familiar with. Soaking uncleaned bones in ammonia isn't going to do much that I know of. If you are doing this at room temperature, drilling the bones will do little or nothing because the degreasing solution needs to be heated to 115 degrees 24/7 for the fat/tallow to melt and be removed. Degreasing bones with flesh on them is not going to turn out any sort of good result.

    If you are trying to clean the bones using maceration, try using the SEARCH function on here and read about how to do it. There are several posts and at least a couple of tutorials on doing simple, single specimens like what you have. You may still be able to accomplish this but I don't know if your soak in ammonia will now prevent any good cleaning to take place.

  3. Understood. I need to macerate the bones first to remove the flesh. My wife is not going to like that. I will probably leave the bones inside my groundhog trap for a few months away from my house) to get them clean before I restart the cleaning process. I will let you know how it goes.
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Macerating would be better as you will not lose any bones. The water needs to be heated to work properly though. They will be clean in 2 weeks (not months) if you do it correctly. If you look at the posts on maceration (tutorials) there is one post where I address the odor and how to prevent it or, at least control it. Leaving the bones out will get many of the smaller ones lost due to other animals running off with them. That would include rats and mice which can get into your trap.. You can macerate each limb in a plastic baggie so the bones don't get mixed up. Easier to sort and put back together that way. The maceration to clean is also water only. No ammonia or anything else is added. Just plain water.

    If you want to try and salvage this, and you probably can, make a trade with the wife. You do this .. she gets something. Even if it is dinner out. Can't hurt to try.
    Vulpes Vulpes likes this.
  5. Okay everyone. I flushed the ammonia out and dropped a fish tank heater into this sealed bucket set to 84 F.

    Attached Files:

  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Hopefully it works. If you have an old blanket, wrap it around the bucket on the outside to act as insulation and hold the heat in.
    coroner2 likes this.