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pls. help me how to clean a cowrie and conus
05-28-2007, 03:23 PM,
pls. help me how to clean a cowrie and conus
Dear All,

i am a new to collecting specimen and rare shells. my problem is how to remove "meat" inside the cowrie and conus without damaging the shell itself. Thank you so much!


05-29-2007, 12:22 PM,
pls. help me how to clean a cowrie and conus
Hi Alvin,

I'm new to this forum, but not to cleaning shells; I collect some live ones every now and then along the Gulf coast.

Here's what Jerome Eisenberg said about cleaning shells in his 1986 reprint of his book <u>A Collector's Guide to Seashells of the World</u>:

"Cleaning Shells

Most shells can be cleaned by placing them in just-boiled water for several minutes, then cooling them slowly to avoid cracking. The dead animal may then be extracted. Small shells may be cleaned overnight in alcohol; larger shells in a solution of 70% alcohol for several days. To remove most surface growths such as coral and algae, place the specimen overnight in equal quantities of water and household (chlorine) bleach. Remove the operculum first, as it will be damaged or dissolved by the bleach. Use rubber gloves and, when mixing, pour the bleach into the water. Use a toothbrush to help clean the surface. Heavy encrustations may be scraped off with a wire brush or the dull edge of a knife."
"A weak solution of hydrochloric acid or caustic soda is sometimes used to help stubborn shells, but this method is best left to professionals, as both the surface of the shell and your skin could be damaged. You can also employ the time-honored method of burying the shells in the ground or near an anthill and feeding the local insect population. Shells should not be left in the sunlight as they tend to dry out and fade. Shells should be rinsed thoroughly after cleaning. A very light coat of mineral oil or baby oil may be used to protect the surface and bring out the color."

As for myself, I have used a deep freezer to freeze the animal meat and then remove it after a night in the freezer; I have also used the boiling and anthill methods mentioned above. I do not trust my shells to any chemical, even bleach. In addition, I would recommend you use baby oil as opposed to mineral oil, because mineral oil tends to yellow and "gum up" after a time, leaving your shells discolored and sticky. To get rid of that "fishy" ocean smell after you have removed the meat, the alcohol solutions mentioned by Eisenberg should do the trick. So will more boiling (after removal). Incidentally, keep a nice pair of tweezers around so you don't burn yourself removing the meat from the shell. Gloves also help.

Another trick I learned recently from a fellow collector is to pay a visit to your local dentist and see if he or she is getting rid of some old tools; these are quite durable and they are great for carefully picking off barnacles from your shells without scratching or damaging them. I DO NOT recommend the use of sandpaper.

Hope you can use some of the above.


Pat (aka Shadekur)

Source: Eisenberg, Jerome M. <u>A Collector's Guide to Seashells of the World</u>, p. 24. McGraw-Hill, 1986 (Reprint).
05-29-2007, 01:26 PM,
pls. help me how to clean a cowrie and conus
Dear Pat,

thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it. now i know  how to clean it without damaging any surface of the shell. anyway if you're interested in philippine seashell whether it is a rare, specimen or a common seashells, you can count on me. i'll help you with this. again thanks!

best regards,

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