Out in rural country, it's pretty easy to come across animal bones, especially skulls.

If I wanted to have them on display, or carve them, what's the best way to make sure they're safe to have out? That is, to make sure they're sanitary and won't rot over the years.

  • I've never done it, but I've heard that lye will eat everything fleshy (except the bones), but you have to be really careful with it (for obvious reasons), and rinse it off multiple times afterwards. They're starting to use it for 'green' burials. (and then they pulverize the bones to dust so you have something like ashes)
    – Joe
    Jul 12, 2016 at 2:00
  • Are these skulls already clean or are they still... meaty?
    – Catija
    Jul 13, 2016 at 20:42
  • @Catija Pretty much bleached by the sun and picked clean by critters. I dunno about germs and inside, like marrow
    – user24
    Jul 13, 2016 at 20:43
  • 1
    @Joe Policy is to delete link only answers. meta.stackexchange.com/q/225370/287266 The OP can still try again.
    – user24
    Jul 17, 2016 at 0:59
  • 1
    @ChrisH I said that...
    – Catija
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


Any bones which are obviously clean and free form any residual soft tissue shouldn't be too much of a problem. With skulls you obviously have more cavities to work about but if the outer surface is clean when you find it it is reasonable to amuse that the interior is too.

Once the bones are cleaned of any soil etc a wash with dilute hydrogen peroxide should effectively sterilise them without damaging the bone.

Obviously with any organic material of unknown origin you can never say it is 100% safe but equally it is ether practical or desirable to attempt to live in an aseptic world. For carving bones sensible precautions wold include wearing a dust mask (if using abrasives or power tools) and maintaining sensible hygiene in you work area. Similarly sealing your finished carving with oil, wax or lacquer should be effective in making it safe to display.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is a debriding agent, it is not a sterilizing or antiseptic agent. Any other recommendations to ensure it's sanitary?
    – user24
    Jul 16, 2016 at 0:40
  • @CreationEdge It's widely used as a disinfectant (wikipedia) though quite a high concentration may be needed.
    – Chris H
    Jul 18, 2016 at 12:49

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