How to Whiten an old Elk Skull | Skulls, Skeletons and European Mounts | Forum


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How to Whiten an old Elk Skull
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June 14, 2018
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June 14, 2018 - 4:25 pm
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Hi everyone,

I'm a young hunter and a couple of years ago I downed a 6x6 bull elk. Not having tons of free time, I skinned the skull and then set it into a five-gallon pail of water to soak for a while. A couple months later a found the time to pressure wash it off. I got most of the fat and meat off in this fashion and was even able to clean out the brain cavity fairly well. but then winter hit and along with winter came high school so I tossed the skull up into our barn loft and there it sat until this year. I decided to tackle the skull this summer and try to get it whitened up so it would nice to hang on a wall. I'm not in a financial position to pay for a European mount, so I asked around and was told to pour peroxide over the skull over and over again. This seems to be working alright, as the skull has cleaned up a bit in the last couple days, but the grooves in the skull remain brown and there is a large patch between the antlers and just down the nose a little bit that remains brown and I can't get it to whiten at all. I'm using three percent peroxide, as that was the strongest I could find in town. I'm open to any tips on how to clean it up. 



Washington state
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December 11, 2015
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August 11, 2018 - 8:28 pm
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Hi, You did things right by maceration then clean up, The peroxide is about the only safe way  to whiten up the skull but it can't be successful until the fat has been removed....the brown areas are fat and oils actually inside the elks bone. It is a simple process to remove but it may take a couple of months to get it all out.....You will need a (1) bucket that the entire head will fit in including the top of the skull. (2)one submersible aquarium heater..It doesn't have to be an expensive one (3) a high grade dish detergent such as Dawn.

Put the head in the bucket(most use 5 gallon plastic buckets but from what I see that may not be big enough.Laugh) You might have to improvise and it won't hurt if the horn bases are submersed.

Next, add approximately 2 to 3 ozs detergent..needs to feel slick and make bubbles... Now find a place you can plug your heater turn it to as high as it will go.. If you can insulate the container that will help keep the temp at around 99 to 104. I just use a big plastic bag to keep the water from evaporating and found fiberglass insulation works well but so will a lot of things...if you don't have that available look around and improvise again!

You need to change this water every few days to keep it clean and promote the fats to migrate out of the also need to use a sieve to catch any possible teeth that may come loose. Save them to replant after the skull is clean...Continue the water changes until there is no more oil and the water looks clean after a week or so...every skull is different so time wise it will take what it takes.

After your skull is grease free you can then whiten with peroxide...most people will bag a skull and fill the bag full of peroxide and (your bucket comes in use again) Use your 3% or some will go to a beauty supply store and get a stronger peroxide..The the horns will bleach if you get the peroxide on them so be care full about not allowing that to happen. To whiten the top of the skull use paper towels or a cloth cover that can be wet with the peroxide. Allow the skull soak for a couple of days then check the look...if it looks good then take it out and put it in the sun that will finish the whitening.... Have fun (if you do end up bleaching the horns they can be fixed! let us know how things progress

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June 14, 2018
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September 17, 2018 - 6:52 pm
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Hey, thank you very much for that info! I'll have to see if I can get around to touching up that skull this fall, although with school starting again now who knows what will happen. 
Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. That info is definitely very helpful.

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