Bone White- How to Easily Clean Bone!

In this Blog, we will discuss the process of cleaning bone and give you the simple process I use to acquire clean workable bone.

In some of my other bone blogs, we discuss some of the useful pieces of equipment we can make from bone and some of the Bone Breaking Discoveries I have made as well as how invaluable Bone a forgotten resource has been throughout the ages in different parts of the world. Don’t forget to check theses out if you are wanting more information on bone working.

Now on with the blog.

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Bone White. A fairly common saying. More often than not to describe somebody who has had a shock or who has just seen a ghost, referring to the colour of the skin when somebody is very pale. To the avid Bone worker, no other saying conjures up more ill feeling than this. What most people imagine when they think of bone is a nice clean sterile bone with all of the meat and sinew removed and the bone practically emitting light due to its pale brilliance. This is unfortunately not how they first arrive, they need to be cleaned.


Now I can testify that cleaning bone is simultaneously the most time consuming, boring and disgusting thing you could probably do. Trying to scrape the meat off the bone and as well pulling the sinew off and cleaning out the marrow just takes forever which can be very off putting especially if you are just starting out on you bone working journey.

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However, Thankfully, I’m here to help. There is another way of cleaning bone with a process called maceration. The process is basically a controlled decomposition and involves submerging the bones in water and allowing nature to take its course and rot the meat and sinew away! This greatly reduces the amount of work that is required and cleans the bones very effectively and also gives you the best and strongest type of bone over other methods of cleaning which we have discussed in other blogs which could damage the bone.

 

The process

What you will need-
• A large bucket, container or dustbin. (This need to be proportionally big enough for the skeleton you are trying to clean.)
• Freshwater
• The bones
• Biological washing powder.
• A strong bristle scrubbing brush.

Firstly take the bones and clean off as much of the meat as you can. This doesn’t need to take long just debone the meat as you would usually do. This will leave quite a lot of sinew and meat still on the bone but don’t worry about it. Also if hooves, claws, and skin are still attached once again don’t worry about it. It is better to try and get as much off as you can however if you done have time, or can be bothered then the process will still work just be aware that it will just take longer to achieve the desired result.

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            Raw legs roughly fleshed

Something like this ;-

Next pop the bones into your container and fill it up with water. You want to have covered the bones with a good amount of water so don’t be stingy just fill the container up until you have covered the bone with 6 inches of water on top.

Add a good shake of washing powder. About a quarter of a small box will usually do however you may need to add more depending once again on size or number of bones. The biological washing powder helps speed up the process of decomposition, however, this isn’t needed you could just use the same process without the washing powder and it would still work.

And now the easy part. Leave it!! How long once again depends on the size of the animal that you are trying to clean and also temperature it could be 3 weeks it could be 4 months! However long it takes you, you will end up with nice clean bones by the end.

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The very last step is to drain away the dirty water and give the bones and good scrub in some clean fresh water, just to remove any hair or dirt that might be still attached however this is a very easy quick process.

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Bones several months later out of the solution.

 

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A quick scrubbing reveal some brilliantly white bones !

Important Points!

• Please be aware that effectively we are using a process that is controlled rotting. The content of your container will gradually be rotting down. With this in mind please wear face masks and gloves when handling the content or the container and wash thoroughly after handling.
• It is going to smell!! For the first week or two, it will smell quite bad so putting the container outdoors at the bottom of your garden is a good idea. However, the smell will eventually disappear. As the bacteria break down the flesh they turn the water acidic, which over time will build up and kill the bacteria that is causing the smell. once this happens the process will start to slow down due to the acidic water so you may have to change the water few times during this process to help continue the decomposition.
• The temperature will play a large factor in the speed at which your bones will clean. If it’s too cold the bacteria can’t do their work and it will slow down the process, or can even stop it completely.

So there we have it clean bones with minimal effort. You are now ready to continue to make your various bone projects with nice clean sparkling bones!

Joseph Philbin