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33 replies to this topic

#16 mikechell

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 01:47 PM

Flytire's monkey is happy again !


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#17 xvigauge

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:25 PM

Any of the common powders used ... talc, baby, soda and baking ... will absorb moisture and odors. 
From that long ago, I'm guessing "Arm and Hammer" baking powder.  Everyone used it as a Refrigerator deodorant at some time or another.


Mike, there is much more to it than just "will absorb moisture and odors." Borax will actually preserve and moth proof the skin and feathers whereas the other powders you mention will not. Taxidermists have been using powdered borax as a preservative for years. Once dried and treated with borax, there is no chance of the feathers to slip from the skin. In the old days (pre-1950 I believe), taxidermists used arsenic as a preservative and soon found that borax would work just as well and it was not poisonous. The taxidermy supply company, Van Dykes, in Woonsocket, South Dakota sells a product they call "calorax" which has a borax base. The powder that Dfoster mentions is most likely borax.
Joe

#18 mikechell

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 03:50 PM

Hey Joe,

I am aware of the differences ... and benefits ... of the different powders.  I wasn't giving advice on what to use ... just putting in a guess to what might be in that bag.  But I disagree that the other powders will not stop insects ... they can and will.  The powder gets into the spiracles of the bugs and they die from lack of oxygen.

People who're into saving skins, etc., know about Borax.  People who aren't ... might not.  If that bag has had the same powder in it for 30+ years, there's no telling what was used.


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#19 xvigauge

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 04:05 PM

Mike, if the bag was 30 years old and the skins and feathers were in perfect condition, then the powder used was definitely borax. If anything else was used the skins and feathers would definitely not be in perfect condition; if fact, not even close. from the way your post is written, it seems that you were saying that any of these powders would work, when in fact they would not. You can disagree that the other powders will not stop insects. They won't. They may eventually kill the insects after time, but borax will repel them. The other powders will not. If what you say is true, then taxidermists would have been using those powders and not exclusively borax.
Joe

#20 Gene L

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 04:16 PM

Bird skins have so much fat they require some kind of agent to soak up moisture.  Animal (mammal) skins don't, you just need to scrape all the fat off the inside and put the hide in the air to dry.  It will be stiff, but that's OK.

 

Also, I realize everyone is paranoid about insects getting into your hair/feather supplies, but I'm not sure such fears are founded.The insects (mostly) eat blood or living flesh, and once the animal is dead, they go looking for more prey.  Moths and carpet beetles will eat feathers, but that's about it.  No insect I know of will eat hair.



#21 xvigauge

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 04:27 PM

I worked in the taxidermy business a few years ago. The birds that had lots of fat on them were ducks, geese, and pen raised or shooting preserve pheasants. I can't remember others, but there may have been some. We used all kinds of methods to get rid of the fat before mounting and some worked better than others. We would first remove as much fat from the skin as we could by hand, using small scissors and various kinds of scrapers. We would then soak the skins in a chemical called xylene. After drying somewhat the skin could be successfully mounted.
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#22 Mark Knapp

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 08:47 PM

Bird skins have so much fat they require some kind of agent to soak up moisture.  Animal (mammal) skins don't, you just need to scrape all the fat off the inside and put the hide in the air to dry.  It will be stiff, but that's OK.

 

Also, I realize everyone is paranoid about insects getting into your hair/feather supplies, but I'm not sure such fears are founded.The insects (mostly) eat blood or living flesh, and once the animal is dead, they go looking for more prey.  Moths and carpet beetles will eat feathers, but that's about it.  No insect I know of will eat hair.

 

The insects I have will eat and do eat the follicles of every dead, feathery, hairy and furry thing in my house, shop and fly tying room. They are the larva of a little white moth. They have eaten the follicles of the American Sable fur coat I gave my mother, they are eating my bear fur coat. Both tanned leather. They ate my whole feather collection, including the feathers themselves, I had only quills left (I assume there was some grease still on there). They are insatiable, moth balls stop them, salt slows them down. Borax may repel them but ya can't scatter the stuff everywhere. Once the follicles are gone, the hair falls away from the hide and you have a loose pile of hair, mostly unusable for anything but dubbing (for those species that are useful for dubbing).

 

The best I can do is store everything I don't want eaten in big totes with moth balls in them.



#23 tjm

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 10:27 PM

Fur beetles are called that because the larvae eats furs (and woolens and some kinds of upholstery/carpets) , various moths do as well. I recall buying a beautiful  golden pheasant whole skin and not doing any thing with it immediately; only to find later that it was infested with beetles, after borax I saved about 15-20% of it, had I boraxed it as soon as I brought it home that would have been prevented. (fwiw, that was in a bag inside a tote bin and the bin had two handfuls of mothballs in it).

Borax may repel insects, I don't know if it does; but it kills cock roaches, ants, fleas, fur beetle larvae, moth larvae, museum bugs and others by contact or ingestion. 

Every thing I store gets borax, even when storing books I dust borax in the box and over the books, generously.



#24 rstaight

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 06:43 AM

The gentleman that taught me to tie can't stand the smell of mothballs. He also is not very found of borax or powders on his pelts. He takes every natural material he has and places it in the freezer for 3 to 7 days once a year.

 

He has a an old freezer he got at a garage sale that he uses. Said his wife wasn't very happy the first time he did it.


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#25 DFoster

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 07:31 AM

Thanks all for the replies and my apologies to Stabgnid, it was not my intention to hijack the thread. 

I knew it must be some "Ol timey" method of preserving natural materials.  Not being a taxidermist I was curious what this stuff could be because it seemed to work so well.  It sounds like most would lean towards Borax which I would have never thought of.  The gentleman that gave the materials to me had them stored in a shoe box in a closet since sometime in the 80's.  There were some furs included (bear, badger and squirrel) but none of them contained the powder, just the duck flanks. 


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#26 SILKHDH

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 09:20 AM

John McLain recommended this to me. Yank the yellow thing out of a NO Pest Strip, cut it into 1" long pieces and place with feathers. Doesn't have the odor of moth balls. This guy sells rare Atlantic Salmon fly feathers and has pelts worth a small fortune, so I trust his advise.

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#27 tjm

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 10:40 AM

Those No Pest strips  need replacing every 4 months, should only be handled with gloves and eye protection and you might be interested in this https://www.wired.co...se-pest-strips/

 

 

In the United States, DDVP is still available over the counter and for use in the home. DDVP has been  restricted use only in the European Union since 2002.

https://www.cdc.gov/..._cid=mm6302a5_w

 

They probably are more effective  than moth balls, they are often used in museums. Moth balls aren't all made from the same chemicals nor do they all work in the same manner, but they aren't good for us either.  Some are naphthalene and some are 1,4-dichlorobenzene based. I think moth balls also inhibit mold, I don't think they repel moths but rather kill them through inhalation.



#28 flytire

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 10:50 AM

no hazmat suit required

 

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#29 stabgnid

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 02:37 PM

This as been an awesome discussion !!  

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#30 Mark Knapp

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Posted 14 December 2018 - 08:04 PM

I think it would be very easy to determine if the the powder is borax or not. I use it as flux for forging knives, the smell is pretty distinctive. It's available at grocery stores in the laundry detergent isle, it's very inexpensive. You could buy some, and sniff it. Compare the smell with the stuff you have. Then you will have some for the other feathers you might collect.