I had posted awhile back about being gifted a skull by my sister, but sadly the end result is a ruined skull so brittle that it crumbles under the lightest of touches.
My sister found what she called a Raccoon skull, but I later ID’d as a Skunk. My sister was still in college when she found it, and couldn’t bring it to me in person, so she asked my mother to bring it over to the house. My mom brought it over wrapped in a plastic bag, nestled inside a plastic gallon bucket, but wouldn’t let me have it without impressing on me how to clean it. She insisted that I use bleach and hot water, and wouldn’t leave until I had placed it securely into this mixture.
I am sure some of you are cringing, as I was once I learned of this awful mistake.
I left the skull in the bucket of bleach water for 6 days in our shed before my sister got word of it and sent me info about proper bone cleaning, which expressly warned against using chlorine bleach on bones because it can dissolve bone matter.
*facepalm at the memory*
I immediately ran out to our shed and retrieved the bucket, carried it up to the toilet, dumped the water out, and rinsed it in the sink several times. It smelled heavily of bleach, and had turned a weird reddish brown color, instead of whiter or more “bone-like”. Other than the smell and coloration the skull seemed to be ok, and that was when I made my second bad decision.
I put the skull into the bucket with clean water, and poured in ~2/3 a bottle of peroxide. It started to fizzle and bubble, so I thought this was a good sign, and left the bucket in our craft/work room carefully covered (to prevent kitten invasion) for 2 1/2 days. In talking with my sister I found out peroxide was the way everyone whitened their skulls and bones, so I assumed this was a needed step.
(You know what they say about assuming….)
Once I was able to take time away from chasing kiddos, caring for my husband, and our new kitten, I got the bucket and began rinsing out the old water and peroxide mixture. I noticed weird yellowish globs floating in the water, but thought nothing of it at the time. The skull began to turn yellowish as well, instead of white, and I was concerned that maybe I left it in for too long, and tried rinsing it in clean water. I found out after that moment that my finger easily punctured the side of the skull like it was made of dough, and was horrified.
This happened last month, but I hadn’t written about this until now because I was so angry at myself for allowing this to happen, and was ashamed of how poorly I treated this poor animal’s remains. I want to try and make amends, but I don’t know how, other than attempting to seal and varnish the skull against further breakage. I feel awful about this, and that I disrespected Someone special.
I have tasted humble pie, and don’t like it one bit. I can only hope to move forward and NEVER make the same mistake again.