Posted by Janet on May 10, 2009
On a recent volunteer trip to a state park, one of the other volunteers found a skull in the bushes. I decided to bring it home and add it to the collection. There was nothing to put it in except a used sandwich bag. When I took it out in the evening, it was covered with dirt from the ground and oil spots from the sandwich bag.
First, I wanted to sterilize the skull and get rid of large debris. I decided that boiling the skull was the quickest method. I had read about forensic anthropologists boiling parts to get rid of the muscle tissues, but was still a bit nervous about doing it. The image below shows the skull in a small stainless steel pot (part of a cookware set for children from IKEA, also very useful for small non-food projects)
Above: Dirty and oil-stained skull and a bone; Below: Skull in a pot for boiling.
Below: The skull is coming to a full boil. It’s NOT falling apart…it’s actually working. Yay.
After boiling and getting rid of larger debris, I left the skull in the water for an hour to cool. Then I drained the water, rinsed it a couple times, and filled the pot with hydrogen peroxide to cover the skull. After about a day, it removed the smaller debris and some of the coloration. Honestly, the result wasn’t as dramatic as I expected, but it did a good job. Overall, no damages except a tooth fell out, but I think it was going to fall out anyway.
Below: The nice, clean skull after boiling and a day of hydrogen peroxide treatment.