A brand new batch of bones

This post is about bone-cleaning and may contain text and photos that some readers might find disturbing. All content is hidden under the link. Continue at your own discretion!


It took much longer than I’d hoped, but I finally, finally got all of the deer bones I found last August looking and smelling clean!

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I’m currently waiting for the vertebra and tailbone to be completely dry before I start whitening anything, but the end is finally in sight for this stubborn batch, and I might even be able to get these finished before I go to visit my family next month.

The deer scapulae I got for Christmas are coming along slowly but surely, but still have a bunch of white, chalky residue left on them. Instead of macerating them again, I decided to try soaking them in a degreasing bath. Since the container I was using for my raccoon skull was more than big enough to accommodate all three bones, I went ahead and refreshed the water and tossed them all in together. I’ll probably check back in on these in a few days to see how the switch from biological washing powder bath to dish soap bath is treating them.

Since the bones I’d been working on were done macerating, that meant I was able to get started on the bones I’d collected in Arizona! First, I laid out everything to take stock of what, exactly, I had.

I found these deer bones when my mom and I were driving through the mountains in Arizona, and I glimpsed one of the bright white leg bones on a hillside next to the road. When I got out to investigate, I picked up several leg bones, scapulae, a pelvis, a complete lower jaw, a handful of vertebrae, about a dozen rib bones, and several small bones that look like they could be phlanges (one of them was still stuck inside a piece of hoof). I also found a partial jawbone of a small, unidentified animal, and three pointed bones (shown above in the third photo) that kind of look like sharp teeth… not sure about those yet.

Excluding the jawbones, there were sixty pieces in all. Not a bad haul!!

The pieces I was most proud of finding were the deer jawbone and pelvis, which were both intact and still in great shape. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up finding the rest of the skull, but the sheer number of bones I was able to find kind of made up for it!

In fact, I’d collected so many that I had to start two maceration baths: One for the small bones, and one for the longer bones. I didn’t even have room in either of my containers to start cleaning the pelvis or jawbone, so those will have to wait until I get some of those leg bones done and out of the way.

I’ve been looking forward to cleaning this batch since November, so I’m really excited to get started on these! More photos coming soon.

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