Gone Outdoors

How to Prepare Cow Skulls

by Louise Lawson

Cow skulls are a decorative item in many homes. They frequently hang on walls and in entryways in Southwestern décor. However, hanging a cow skull in your home is not as simple as walking into the field and picking one up. Proper preparation is necessary to prevent foul smells and to keep insects living in the skull from infesting your home.

Lay the skull on a flat surface and remove the skin. Slide the knife through the skin, making a cut down the center of the forehead. Peel the skin back toward the underside of the skull, using the knife to cut it away from the flesh and tendons.

Place the skull in a large stock pot, covering it with water. Set the pan on the burner and turn the heat to medium, allowing the water to slowly come to a boil. Allow the skull to boil for at least three hours to separate the flesh from the bone. Turn the pot off and leave the skull in the water until it is cool enough to handle.

Slide on the gloves and pull the skull out of the water, setting it inside a garbage bag on your work surface. Pull the loose flesh away from the skull, placing it in the bag for easy cleanup. Scrape any remaining bits of flesh or tendon from the skull with the back of the knife to keep from damaging it.

Pour the hydrogen peroxide in a plastic tub and place the skull inside. Add enough water to completely cover the skull, closing the tub with the lid. Hydrogen peroxide helps bleach the skull and turn it a nice, even shade of white without damaging the bone. Leave the skull inside the solution for five days.

Remove the skull from the peroxide and move the skull into a sunny outdoor location for one week. The cavities inside the skull need to dry completely before use. The sun also interacts with the peroxide and will finish the bleaching process.

Items you will need
  • Cow skull
  • Knife
  • Large stock pot
  • Stove or propane burner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Garbage bag
  • 32-oz. hydrogen peroxide
  • Large plastic tub

Tip

  • You can boil the skull indoors or on an outdoor propane burner. The boiling flesh can produce a pungent, offensive odor.

Warning

  • Don't use bleach to whiten the skull. Bleach is too powerful and can eat holes through the bone.

About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

Photo Credits

  • Cow"s skull. image by Saskia Massink from Fotolia.com