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Skull "Bleaching"
February 2002
Mark Snyder

A few years back when I was at a taxidermist shop, I noticed the taxidermist had some Euro mounts of bear and javelina skulls. I thought they looked rather neat, my wife, however was not impressed. Normally when Iíve been successful on javelina hunts, I just keep the meat and throw the rest away. Last year I decided I was going to keep the head of my javelina and attempt to "bleach" the skull.

Well the head went into the freezer and I went to the web to search for skull "bleaching" techniques. The website javelinahunter.com had a simple skull cleaning process, of boiling the skull, so I followed their recommendations. They recommended using sal soda (but not a requirement) while boiling the skull to help dissolve the fats. If you donít get the fats out of the skull it eventually can turn yellow on you. I ordered some sal soda off a web site that had taxidermist products. You want to boil the skull outdoors. There are a couple of reasons you want to do this, one is the smell and the other is the fact that your pot can boil over on you, which mine did a couple of times. I used my turkey fryer and an old pot I picked up at a rummage sale for $2. (You donít even want to think about using the Missusí good pot, lest you want to be wearing it for a hat, or worse yet, pulling it out of you know where.)

I skinned out the head and removed as much meat, fat, tendons, and sinew as possible. The website made is sound like it would be pretty easy to clean up the skull. It actually was a little more work than I expected. I boiled the skull and scraped at it for about 3 hours until I got it completely free of any soft tissue. After you get all the soft tissue off the skull it is time to "bleach" the skull. The term "bleaching" is used loosely here because you do not use real bleach, in fact bleach can cause the opposite results of what you are trying to obtain. The instructions I followed recommended using hydrogen peroxide and sunlight for "bleaching" the skull. You can use the hydrogen peroxide that you get in the bottles from you local pharmacy or grocery store and in fact this is what I used. However, in subsequent searches on the web I have found that taxidermists actually recommend a stronger solution of hydrogen peroxide which is used by hair dressers and can be picked up at a hair dressers supply store.

I soaked the skull overnight in the peroxide and then set it out for a day in the sun. I was impressed as it turned out bright white. If you want, you can also coat the skull in a clear lacquer to help protect the skull. Eventually I may get around to mounting it on a plaque but I want to look around a bit to get some ideas on what position it will look best at.

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