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Boiling Skulls?

Phantom

PMA Member
I'm going to give it a go this weekend and try to boil some deer skulls. The heads are prepped and ready for a european mount. I've had a few done before with beetles and really like how they've turned out, but I'm trying something different. I know that boiling isn't recommended and that the plates/teeth can come out, but that's ok.

So, on to my question.....what pan/pot does one use to boil a full head without the lower jaw? I'll be using a propane burner but don't have a pot big enough. Would a cut down metal trash can work?

Thanks in advance!
 

Ghost

Life Member
I use metal 5 gallon buckets like deck sealer comes in.

The key is to not over boil the skulls.

Bring to a boil, then back off to a simmer for 1.5 hours, and then finish with a high pressure srayer.

If they are fresh they will dry really white with no other work involved.
 

Shredder

Life Member
One more thing, do not submerge or only submerge very little of the rack or more extensive problems will occur.
 

Bow Ben

Member
I use a deep frying turkey pot, it is the perfect size and works great with a propane burner. I only use that pot for boiling skulls now, they are around $20 for the pot. Keep the heat to a very light boil/ simmer and you will lose no teeth or bones. I like to let mine dry thouroughly and then treat will 40 volume peroxide for a very nice snow white finish. Try to keep the horns out of the water as much as you can but all my bases have always got into the water and haven't suffered any ill effects. Just wash the bases clean with hot soapy water ass soon as you are done boiling. I have done several this way and all have come out great. Good luck!
 

Iowabowtech

New Member
Haven't tried this yet, but I've heard that sodium carbonate (soda ash) can be added to the water supposedly making the flesh remove much more quickly. The rate I was told was 1/2 cup per gallon. Guessing you could prolly find it at a pool supply store. I'm definitely giving this a shot on my next skull mount.
 

crietveld

Active Member
The guys above are right, simmer not boil. I usually change the water once and add a liberal amount of dish soap to disolve the grease. I buy quart bottles of 2% peroxide at walmart for $1 a bottle and soak them in that for a day to whiten. Hang them up outside in the sun after the peroxide and they brighten up nicely.
 

m_kat

Member
The guys above are right, simmer not boil. I usually change the water once and add a liberal amount of dish soap to disolve the grease. I buy quart bottles of 2% peroxide at walmart for $1 a bottle and soak them in that for a day to whiten. Hang them up outside in the sun after the peroxide and they brighten up nicely.


Pretty much the same thing I do, cook for a couple hours w/dawn dish soap then pressure washer, repeat untill clean.

Two bottles of the regular walmart peroxide will whiten a skull very nicely, just set the scull out in a sunny spot and pour enough to dampen the scull several times throughout the day, works great and cheap. Depending on cloud cover sometimes it takes two days. Very white product.


Also, I wrap the antler bases in plastic wrap and then wrap tight with electric tape, this keeps the bases from discoloring from the fat that rises to the top when it gets cooked. I don't worry about submerging them a bit as long as they are covered with the plastic and mine all look as good as the day they where killed, some even still have wood imbedded in the bases.

Good luck.
 

AIRASSAULT

PMA Member
When I buy supplies for my taxidermy, the instruction sheet that comes with the Bleach says this (This is also what I learned in taxidermy school):

"Clean skull of as much meat and tissue that you can remove with a knife. Prepare a pot of water with 4 oz. of Sal Soda to each 5 gallons of water. Bring to a rolling boil and immerse skull. Cook at a rolling boil for 15-20 minutes. Remove and scrape remaining tissue from bone. Return to boiling water and repeat until bone is clean. Note: The object is to remove the maximum amount of meat and fat in the shortest amount of boiling time. This will prevent damage to the bone. Try to clean the skull within 30-60 minutes. Once clean, place skull in a pail of clean, hot water while you prepare the bleaching mixture. Mix Basic White with 40-volume hydrogen peroxide to form a white froth comparable to shaving cream. Remove skull from clean water and pat dry. For whitest results apply to a damp skull. Paint Basic White/Peroxide mixture onto skull until completely covered. Allow to air dry, usually overnight. Wash skull free from dried bleach mixture with clear running water and allow to dry. At this point, skull should be very white. If any areas remain unbleached, repeat the bleaching process."

In my own experiences, find a pot big enough so that the whole skull is able to be submerged, however, try to keep the antler burs out of the water. I will also note that some skulls I have bleached will leach a slight oily/greasy residue over time that makes the skull turn slightly yellowish in some areas. I haven't tried it yet, but, I have heard of doing two different things to degrease them. Either also boil the skull with a scoop of Oxi-clean, or put some dawn dish soap in the bucket of hot water after the boil process and let the skull soak for a while.
 

ironwood

Active Member
I use a deep frying turkey pot, it is the perfect size and works great with a propane burner. I only use that pot for boiling skulls now, they are around $20 for the pot. Keep the heat to a very light boil/ simmer and you will lose no teeth or bones. I like to let mine dry thouroughly and then treat will 40 volume peroxide for a very nice snow white finish. Try to keep the horns out of the water as much as you can but all my bases have always got into the water and haven't suffered any ill effects. Just wash the bases clean with hot soapy water ass soon as you are done boiling. I have done several this way and all have come out great. Good luck!


This sounds very close to my aproach to cleaning them up. I use an old canning pot. They are the perfect size for a deer head. Also I add 1/2 a cup of powdered detergent as a degreaser, no bleach. I change the water after most of the cleaning is done and finish the boil.
 

Phantom

PMA Member
Thanks for all the tips and advice. I gave it a try today and it took a lot longer than I expected. I'm having a hard time getting everything out of the nasal cavity. Perhaps a high pressure sprayer would work better than my knife. :) Anyway, it's good to get some experience so next time will be better.
 
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