Con Huesos: Part 2–The Charnel House

As long time readers know, I tend to get tied up for long periods of time around Beltane.  What can I say?  Beltane is the best!  So, to pick up where we left off with bones (since you all know that when I typed “April” in the previous post I meant that loosely), we have a guest post from Lee (of other guest posts fame).

There are many ways to clean bones. It can be as easy or as complicated as you make it. Patience is a virtue. The easiest way to clean any bone is to let Mother Nature do it for you. Leave the head or part out side. Winter/fall time is not a good time for this because there are less flies and beetles out to eat the flesh . You end up with jerky-skin covered bones.

Jerky-skin covered skull

Make sure to place the item in a location where another animal can’t drag it off outside. You can place it in the open, maybe put a wire cage of sorts over it to keep scavengers or the neighbor’s dog from toting it off. Lay a trash bag or such over it to keep the moisture up and the flesh eating critters happy. They will work faster in a moist environment. You can place it in one those new dog food bags and forget about it.

Bones and shells left in a deep flower pot.

Heads left in a soft drink crate.

If you want it white, you can leave it out in the sun to bleach.  But be careful, too much sun is even bad for bones; they can become brittle and weak. You can get fancy whitening kits or go to the beauty supply place and get the peroxide 40 whitening and use that. It takes several coats. You can throw the head/part into a bucket of water and wait it out. It’ll come out all clean pretty much.  I use to have a 55 gallon barrel full of animal carcasses. Year or two later, kick it over, and after the smell disperses, you have a yard of bones.

You can boil the head, peel, cut and scrape; it’s just a faster process. Over boiling can weaken the bones too. If you do boil the bones and want to keep it white after it dries, you will want to spray it with some type of sealant.  If not, it will draw moisture and turn yellow.

You can get beetles on line that are used to clean bones, or, and I’m not really saying, you can get meaner beetles off the floor of a commercial chicken house.  Those black beetles are nothing but devourers.  If you have a connection, you could just place the head in a chicken house. Between the cannibal chickens and the beetles, the head will be fine in less than a week. You can even get kits for bone cleaning.  They’ll look all white and pristine. Hell, you can even mail them off to companies that will do it for you. I prefer the look of a skull that’s been left to the weather and elements. 

Here’s the link to the blog party that started this train of thought: http://pagan-culture.blogspot.com/2013/01/witches-in-fiction-2013-to-bone.html

These folks know all about flesh eating beetles:

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