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Help With African Skulls

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Michelle Steevens, Apr 13, 2022.

  1. Michelle Steevens

    Michelle Steevens New Member

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    Hello I'm Michelle, I own Catherine Creek hides in Eastern Oregon. I do Beatles on the side for my loyal customers.
    My question is one of my customers is bringing back a load of African skulls. He said they buried them to clean them which stained them. I'm afraid to experiment on these skulls since they're so precious to him. I'm guessing that the proxide would take care of this but I'm afraid it wouldn't and I would need to use iron out. My other question is would I have to degree these skulls as well? I'm guessing I do. Any advice I can get would be would be greatly appreciated. One of the skulls is a hippo.
     
  2. All skulls need degreased if you want a good white skull in the end process. Degreasing will take some of the stains out, but the peroxide will make it white with a little heat. Check out the article down below by SeaWolf called "All that fat". He does a really good explanation on degreasing.
     
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  3. QBD

    QBD Active Member

    Peroxide will not remove mineral stains that are commonly found in soils so you very well might have to go the Iron Out route. Fortunately, Sea Wolf has a thread that covers that process very thoroughly.

    As a side note, I would be very surprised if any skulls coming from Africa have not been boiled even if they were buried to remove most of the soft tissue. The boiling would be used to disinfect them.
     
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  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    The skulls may have been buried to rot most of the flesh off but almost guaranteed that they have also been boiled to death. I don't think any heads come out of Africa that aren't. Boiled and dusted with insecticide powders to meet Customs regulations. You may want to try degreasing them first but be gentle. Low heat (no more boiling) and use safe things like Dawn and ammonia. Watch for the skulls becoming brittle. Examine them closely when you get them for signs of flaking and deterioration. Bone should have a nice smooth surface to it and not be chalky or have powdered bone and flakes falling from them. If so, they are already over cooked and beginning to deteriorate. Iron out will probably make a huge difference in the mineral coloration. There is a post I have up with a pot belly pig that I did that was buried in a Texas ant mound. If they need it, degrease them first. Understand that any grease in the kettles in Africa has been cooked into the bone and will take a long time to get it out. 4 months is not unexpected. There is a post on here where someone had a hippo skull that took many months of degreasing but it actually came out pretty good. Degrease, use peroxide and then the Iron out in that order. If the bone is flaking bad, it can be saved by soaking it in a solution of Paraloid B72 and then letting it dry. That will effectively plasticize the fragile bone and stabilize it, preventing it from falling apart any further. If you can put up some pictures it may be of help.
     
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  5. *

    * Liberalism IS A MENTAL ILLNESS !

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    Bury them to let sand fleas clean them
    but horns are tough to remove they haven’t been boiled off
     
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  6. Penczak

    Penczak Active Member

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    Michelle, It's not that big of a deal. You've got this. Just like the guys above said. The skulls have already been boiled.
    Be careful not to put to much peroxide on them. The sunshine will whiten them. Clean them up then put them out in the sun. They will whiten up for you.
     
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  7. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Dennis .. ?!!
    JC how are you doing???
     
  8. Michelle Steevens

    Michelle Steevens New Member

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    Thank you very much for your advice I appreciate it. One question remaining is how do you know when their Done Degreasing?
     
  9. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Best quote (from someone else) that I saw on that was "When it's done, it's done". It is up to you and what you are satisfied with .. or your customer. Any species of animal can have the odd one out that doesn't conform to what the rest are like. Some, in general, are worse than others. Deer are generally not too bad (done correctly) but I have had those that took several months to be done. Bear will almost always take months to do but I have had a couple be done in two. An animals lifestyle and health will play a big part of it. One of my worst ones was from a fat, overweight, doughnut and garbage fed bear that took me 9 months to get it to look good.

    Take your skull out when you think it looks good. Rinse it off with hot water and let it sit to dry for a day or so. Any areas that still hold grease should be evident. If you want to let it work more, put it back in for a while longer. Adding ammonia will help but isn't always needed. I have also used almost straight ammonia and acetone (not combined) depending on my degree of irritation at something. It is done when you are happy with it and it looks good to you. One thing I do with my clients is provide a guarantee on the degreasing. If, at any time grease shows and they want it corrected, bring it back and I'll see what I can do. When it comes to sealing skulls, I wait a week and make sure it is dry before doing so. They are dried in a warm area and I can make sure I don't see grease before I seal them. Sealing over grease just ends up bad later on.
     
  10. Michelle Steevens

    Michelle Steevens New Member

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    Ok thank you!