Instructables

Step 3: De-Fleshing with boiling or soaking

2. Boiling your skull. You should do this outside as it WILL make your house stink. Most outdoor grills these days have a stove burner, which works perfect. I have a freestanding propane burner (purchased from Wal-Mart) that work GREAT because I can move it away from the house. You will want to designate a pot specifically for cleaning skulls; you can buy a used pot at almost any local thrift store.

a. Start your water boiling. Reduce it to a low simmer and place your skull in. Cover with a lid if possible.

b. Check your skull as often as possible, about every 10-15 minutes. If you boil it for too long or at too high a temp, the bone may begin to separate along the joints. Once the flesh is soft and easily falls away from the bone, grab a pair of tongs and remove the skull from the pot. Allow it to cool slightly, but not all the way. Make sure you collect any teeth that may have fallen out from the bottom of the pot; you can glue these back in later.

c. Remove the remaining flesh by hand, either with gloves or without (I stopped using gloves because they get in the way too much). To remove what is left of the brain, use a bottle brush under running water; push the brush up into the skull cavity and basically brush & clean just as you would a bottle or tall glass. Keep rinsing, scraping & peeling until 90% of all the flesh is removed.

3. Soaking the flesh off of your skull. This takes a long time and STINKS but it has good results. Simply fill a Rubbermaid tub with water and place your skull in. It is best if the tub is placed in a warm shed, far from your house and from your neighbors house. Change the water every four to seven days as needed. The flesh will rot right off of the bone in the water. Some teeth may fall out but they can be glued in later. Time varies based on water temp and skull size, but expect this to last at least a month. Once you can see that all the flesh is gone, rinse under running water to remove small particles, and allow the skull to dry. I recently cleaned a deer skull in this fashion, and it can out with virtually no damage to the bone.
 
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ElleP1 month ago

Boiling over a long period or at too high temperature can really damage the bone and make it flake with a dull rough surface rather than a nice smooth one. These things take time and patience! Cannot recommend enough! remove as much flesh as possible with a knife, then soak in an air tight container of water. It will take up to a month (maybe more) but the results are far superior.

hherzog2 years ago
The soaking method can be sped up a bit by adding an aquarium heater. Just makes the bacteria a little happier.
flamesami4 years ago
I have some small pork bones (no joints)do you think overboiling would be a problem?