Tips and experiments on how to efficiently clean old bones
Important: This is pretty much a summary of all the research I’ve done on the subject and personal experiences from people who dabbled with bone preservation. I’m still experimenting with bone preservation using hydrogen peroxide so I might get things wrong here, I intend on updating this guide with new things I discover, and I more than welcome people with actual knowledge on the subject to correct me or add more tips!
Also if you’re a child pls get an adult to do this and don’t play with chemicals, I don’t have money for a lawsuit.
We’ve all been there. Upon arriving at an excavation site, or while surveying, we sometimes find a cool-looking, out-of-context bone. It’s clearly old (maybe not ancient, but old) and out of context, so it might even be legal to take, depending on your country’s law and your profs mood. Upon picking up your new, maybe-legally acquired bone, you notice it’s grimey af. “fuck”, you say. “how could I POSSIBLY clean it?” you say. “LIKE THIS!” I say, providing you with a short, amateurish guide on How To Pretty Up That Old Bone You Randomly Found™:
Thinking about using the good ol’ chlorine bleach? THINK AGAIN because the bone you’ll recover from a chlorine bleach bath will most likely either become super fragile and crumbly, or come out in a liquid state, and no one likes a mushy, flaccid bone.
Also - keep in mind that what is written here should not be applied to bones that seem fragile and crumbling. Why’d you even pick them up they’re far too fucked to be restored by amateurs like me lol.
Also 2.0 - what is written here should not be applied to fresh roadkill or whatever fucked up freshly decomposing carcass you find outside.
What you should be thinking about using is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). You can buy H2O2 at any drugstore (3% and 6% concentrates are what is sold in my local store). Avoid using H2O2 that is meant for hair since it has other components in it that can damage the bone.
First, get a toothbrush, prefferably not your own, and brush the bone with some warm (not hot, I repeat, not. hot.) water till you get the dirt out. If the dirt is especially stubborn, sharpen a chop-stick into a shiv and carefuly pry the dirt out. If chopsticks are not available, find another pointy wooden potential prison weapon and avoid using a pointy metal thingy since wood is much softer and has far less chances of damaging the bone. After getting done with the initial dirt touch ups, steal a plastic container (with a lid) from your unsuspecting mother/roomates. Put some gloves on, be responsible and don’t handle H2O2 with your bare hands for the love of god. Put your bone in the stolen container, cover it with hydrogen peroxide and add an equal amount of water. Close the lid, hide the box from your disturbed mother/roomates and wait for about a week. Don’t use a lid that completely seals the container from the outside world, it’ll literally blow the fuck up. Use a slightly loose lid.
You should leave your morbid witch container be for about a week, but still check up on your bone every other day to see its progress. Higher concentrate hydrogen peroxide has more chances of eating away the bone so keep an eye on it!
It’s been about 48 hours since I soaked the Astragalus I found and so far so good! Will add pics once the whole process is done!
Going back to fresh roadkill and decomposing carcasses: H2O2 does not dissolve soft tissue and flesh, so don’t pick up that shit thinking H2O2 will get rid of it for you. What H2O2 will do to a bone like that is make the soft tissue more loose and easier to remove. It will also sterilize the bone, which is good.
Now go have fun with your slightly disturbing hobby!