Bone Collecting Mistakes
1. Know Your Wildlife Laws!
2. Never Ever Use Harmful Bleach!
3. Never Ever Boil for Longer Periods than a Quick Dunk!
1. Wild Life Laws
These are extremely important. While it seems rare to serve jail time for having a few hawk feathers or whale bones, people have indeed faced that consequence. Do you want to be one of those statistics?
While best to do your own research just to be sure, here is an excellent resources for wild life laws: Lupa’s Animal Parts Laws
When in doubt, call your local Game and Fish.
2. Bleach, more like Blech
For those wanting to understand this on a scientific level, you just need to look at the labels. The active ingredient in bleach is a very powerful corrosive and scientists use gloves, eye and respiratory protection and ventilation when handling it. Do you use the same precautions at home? Bleach will turn bone into chalk, and will not whiten or clean the bone. It is just not worth using when such safer ways such as Dawn dish soap exist. Stay tuned for my modified tutorial on bone cleaning.
I used this sun worn skull as an example of what happens to bleached bones. It is brittle, flaking, spongy in some areas, and as you can see it still has grease. A properly cleaned bone, even one that was already sun worn, should never flake, have soft spots, and have grease leaking.
3. Boiling Bones
The extreme heat and bouncing from a good boil will damage a skull to the point of being near impossible to fix. By all means, a quick dunk to get meat off won’t do much harm but one should never put it to boil and walk away.
People who boil are often in a hurry and bone cleaning is just one of those things that takes time to do right. Put the bone cleaning (Dawn dish soap) to work and walk away. Bone cleaning is a hobby that doesn’t require a constant watch, so enjoy the free time to do another hobby while you wait for those cool skulls to gradually get cleaner.
Boiling with Bleach
Personal anecdote time! I once had a taxidermist tell me that he’d put bleach into a large pot with a group of skulls, set them boiling, and leave them until they were clean. Bleach and heat do not mix. Read the label. Heat transforms bleach into an aerosol and that means it can then be absorbed into your skin and eyes and inhaled into your lungs. People can injure themselves and can die from doing this. I never bought skulls from that taxidermist and I hope he wasn’t being serious about this technique.