How do you get the smell out of sea shells? [Archive] - ScubaBoard - Scuba Diving Forum - Diving Social Network

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May 10th, 2004, 10:28 PM
I did a search on this, but found no info.

My wife, Victoria and I went to Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico about a week ago and she picked up a bunch of sea shells and brought them home.

She asked me how to get the fishy smell out of the shells, so that she could put them into a bowl for decoration.

I've never been one to collect sea shells. I thought vinegar or bleach would do the trick. I was wrong.

While I was sitting here reading threads, she asked me what else she should try. It occured to me that someone here must know what she should do.

Before recommending a vat of acid, I thought I'd ask the board. ;)

So... how do you do it?



May 10th, 2004, 10:38 PM
try soaking in freshwater for a few days, add a bit 'o liquid soap while you're at it.
Some people swear by slices of cucumber. Apparently for getting rid of fish smells they can't be beat. They absorb the smell... or something.

May 10th, 2004, 10:44 PM
step #1 Remove nose from shell
step #2 Set shell down
step #3 Walk away
step #4 Smells all gone! :eyebrow:

May 10th, 2004, 10:46 PM
how about setting them out in the sun for a few days? seems to work wonders
on tons of smelly stuff

May 10th, 2004, 10:52 PM
Here is something that works on just about everything (even skunk spray...don't ask).

1 quart of 3 % hydrogen peroxide (the stuff ya buy at walmart)

1 cup baking soda

1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap

Mix together & use immediately. It WILL NOT keep.


May 11th, 2004, 12:13 AM
Try Gasoline and that's Naplam...Never Mind..If You soak the shells in will remove interior and exterior film..then You can pour it down Your Drain..Do two jobs in one.

May 11th, 2004, 12:22 AM
I use undiluted bleach. Cleans them up and gets rid of all the smell.

May 11th, 2004, 12:28 AM
Make sure that the animal is all gone.

I usually find a local any hill to be very good at this part. Do NOT leave a shell out in any place where hermit crabs are living. As soon as the shell is clean one of them will move in and take it away.

Once the ants are done a simple wash should do it.
If any of the original owners body is still in there NOTHING will make it stop smelling.

May 11th, 2004, 03:32 AM
Vinegar is bad - the acid dissolves calcium carbonate and destroys the shell's finish. Alkaline solutions such as bleach are better, but still don't overdo it - you will damage them if they soak too long.

Putting them in the sun is also a bad idea, unless you want the shells to become white like the ones on the beach!

If the shells weren't quite dead yet when she picked them up, there'll be loads of nasty rotting snail meat inside that will really stink. If it's dried up already, it's next to impossible to pick it out so the best you can do is try to locate some really hungry ants who are smaller and stronger than you are. Otherwise, the smell will go away in a couple of months if you're patient enough to store them in a dry place (but don't get them wet again or it'll return with a vengeance).

May 11th, 2004, 03:44 AM
I love collecting shells and have a lot of them. I wash them with freshwater and a soap. Then - as H2Andy proposed - I put them on the sun.
But remember - shells taken from the water loose their colors. To get the colors back I paint them with transparent lacquer. In fact the best one is transparent nail polish!!!! If you don't do it the other solution is to keep the shells in water - but it means a lot of trouble. So polishing them is the only way to get the colors back - at least the only one I came up with.
After that they are ready to be a part of house decoration.
And they do look nice!

May 11th, 2004, 04:28 AM
I'll point her to this thread and have her read the suggestions and comments.

I'll have to put my foot down though and tell her that she has to work outside if she decides to go with the napalm suggestion! :11:

I knew I'd find good info here!

Thank you all.


May 12th, 2004, 01:27 AM
I've also just boiled them in plain water-just don't let them boil dry.

May 12th, 2004, 03:49 AM
After Cleaning..restoring luster is easy with Mineral Oil or Baby Oil..They look Great..

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