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Depending on your fossil and locality where it was found there are many different techniques used in cleaning and preserving them. We will start with our area of Venice and gulf water fossils.
Before cleaning your important fossils do a visual inspection of them, check for stress marks, cracks and areas of poor preservation. Avoid putting extra pressure on those areas (cracks) while you start cleaning.
1. Start by removing the large foreign matter, examples: barnacles, oysters and algae,
this can be done with toothbrushes and dental picks (no pun).
2. After major cleaning is done, soaking the fossil in a 50% solution of half apple cider vinegar and water. I soak my fossil for about 1 hour and go back with a toothbrush to help remove some of the foreign material. While cleaning the fossils check to make sure that the fossil is not being etched by the acid. (Yes vinegar is an acid) Keep repeating this process until the fossil is clean.
3. After the fossil has been cleaned of all foreign matter, rinse it and then soak it in fresh water for about one hour depending on how long you had the fossil in the vinegar. Normally 1 hour will work.
4. Wash your fossil with antibacterial hand soap; Dial liquid soap is mild and great.
5. Dry your fossil in a cool dry place. Never dry fossils in direct sunlight. Drying fossil to fast or in direct sunlight can stress the fossil, causing it to crack, not to mention it will sun burn (discolor). Remember that fossil has not seen direct sunlight in thousands to millions of years.
Last edited by Sh@rkW@tcher; December 4th, 2008 at 07:51 AM.
Cleaning and preserving river fossils: Before cleaning your important fossils do a visual inspection of them, check for stress marks, cracks and areas of poor preservation. Avoid putting extra pressure on those areas (cracks) while you start cleaning. 1. Start by rinsing your fossils, colanders work great. 2. The next step is removing the large foreign matter, examples: algae, sand, and small river gravel this can be done with toothbrushes and dental picks (no pun). NEVER USE BLEACH TO CLEAN YOUR FOSSILS 3. After major cleaning is done. Inspect fossils, they can be found in different states of preservation. Shark teeth are often in great preservation and require little work other than a good rinse. Wash the fossils again with Dial liquid antibacterial hand soap. While other large fossils like vertebra, and mammoth material require more work. Allow your fossils to dry, if the fossils are large like a mammoth tooth it may take up to a week or more. DO NOT DRY IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT. 4. After the fossil is dry you may want to put a preservative on your fossil. Never get into a rush to put a preservative on your fossil. If the fossil is NOT complete dried the preservative will leave a milky look to your fossil. Not to mention will help it deteriorate or become moldy. Do a test area of the fossil first. 5. Checking the fossil; this is the time to do any repairs before applying your preservative. 6. What to use? The most commonly used preservative is Elmer’s white glue. Do this by mixing 50% glue and 50% water and apply with a brush, only doing 1/2 of the fossil at a time. Tip# place fossil on use a disposable cookie sheet, this helps keep the fossil from sticking to most surfaces. Allow the treated area of the fossil to dry before flipping it over and doing the other side. Check the fossil for excess glue, use a damp cloth to help remove the runs marks. You will have to repeat this process several times before fossil is ready to be displayed. 7. Labeling your fossil is something that you might want to do as well. When and where it was found will do for starters. You can do this with your dive logbook, notebook or I like to use a place card. Let me know how your fossil turned out.
Last edited by Sh@rkW@tcher; December 4th, 2008 at 07:57 AM.
Reason: Corrected spelling error
in addition to the methods described above, for cleaning teeth without the growth on them, I use an Air Eraser with metal oxide grit spray. I also use a 6" buffing wheel (attached to a shaft and motor) with polishing compounds. A popular and common, rouge colored, polishing compound, is known by just that .... "rouge"
As for the fresh water soak. I was given a great idea from FWS. My mammoth tooth has been in my toilet tank for months now. Fresh water gets changed out a few times a day, and every now and then I will take it out and pic stuff off of it. Works great. thanks guys.
I found this site and thread by trying to research how to clean river scum/algae/plantlife off fossils. You say to never use bleach - ummmmm, I just did (uh oh??). What is the reason not to use it? What I am cleaning is fossilized coral, primarily. Some is agatized, some not. I was told by a friend not to use anything acid based, as it will etch the stone. They suggested a mix of bleach and Era detergent (has enzymes). I have not noticed any harm to the rock. That said, I would suppose bleach might "bleach" less mineralized material? Any suggestions are welcome. The river scum I deal with seems pretty hardcore and even with a w day strong bleach soak, does not come off all the way.
With the teeth I pulled out of the ocean last year, I tried the cider/water mix soak and scrub method and found there was a lot more scraping and picking involved as the cider didn't seem to loosen up the growth as much as I thought it would.
A person on our charter a few weeks ago said you can use this, CLR Calcium Lime and Rust Remover. I was going to test it on some broken pieces, but has anyone used it? Just curious before I wreck a nice fossil.