This process can be accomplished in two ways:

Note: "hair" products can be bought at places like "Sally's"

You would need about a gallon of 3% (or stronger) peroxide (cheapest at Walmart) and a plastic shoebox sized container. Set head in container, and fill up with room temperature peroxide. Stop ¼ or ½ inch below the level of the antlers because the solution will bubble up eventually and you don’t want too much of the bubble to hit the antlers. Use thin white rags or white paper towels laid over exposed skull areas and antler pedicles to pull the peroxide up to the skull parts that are not immersed. Let this sit at room temperature for about 3-5 days for 3%, using a small cup to re-wet the cloth or paper with peroxide to keep all the bone wet. One day is fine for 20vol or stronger. When done rinse well in hot water by soaking in bucket of hot water for a couple hours, and allow to dry.

20 volume or 40 volume clear liquid peroxide hair developer works much better than 3% and it can be argued that the cost is perhaps even cheaper in the long run when you buy it in 32oz or gallon jugs. The stronger peroxide will last longer, work faster, and work better.


This process is with a stronger peroxide, and can be beneficial even if the skull is soaked in 3%. With skull wet or dry, mix 30-volume or 40-volume hair coloring peroxide with a hair product whitener (commonly called Basic White). Mix in a glass or plastic bowl, and use a plastic brush to mix. 

Strong peroxide and metal are bad combinations as very strong peroxide can become volatile with metal. 

Mix an ounce or two of peroxide (to start with so you don't waste it) with basic white powder (adding powder until proper consistency is achieved) until you have a paste similar to that of toothpaste. Make sure not to get any of the mix on clothing or skin unless you want to feel a burning sensation and bleach your clothes…the same goes for good carpeting! Place skull on a piece of saran wrap to protect your table surface, then begin “painting” on your paste. Pay special attention to visible areas of skull, as well as teeth. Put your thickest layers (1/8 inch) on the forehead between the eyes and antlers, as well as on the teeth. With excess paste, cover the rest of skull and inside the nasal passage. If you need to mix more paste then do that at this time. When skull is “painted,” wrap pieces of saran wrap around the skull to keep peroxide from drying out. 

Then place skull in oven with “low” heat on and door cracked (many generally refuse this option for obvious reasons...and too high of heat can cause the peroxide to eat away at the skull), or place in front of a heater, or in the window of a pickup if it is sunny and warm enough out to really warm the cab. Placing the wrapped skull in a black plastic bag will help absorb the heat. The reason for this is that the peroxide reacts to heat and that is how it does its best job whitening. Room temperature room can also work, just not as effectively. You may need to rotate the skull so that all parts of it get heated if it’s in front of a heat source. Duration depends on the intensity of your heat source (hour or two for oven, many hours for heat source, all day for vehicle). You really can’t over-whiten, so you can do this over two days if you need to. 2015 update: I rarely set in front of heater anymore. I utilize black bag and sun or vehicle in sun. 

When done, remove plastic wrap if you want to dehydrate and reuse the powder (in a place that it is ok for stuff to fall on the ground or on a table top) and immerse skull (not antlers) in a bucket or container of hot water until water starts to cool to loosen the peroxide paste, and cause it to react just a little more. Or submerge entire plastic wrapped skull in warm/hot water. Cut a few holes in plastic so that water can enter and react with the peroxide. After the water starts to cool off remove skull. Remove plastic. Then rinse off with warm water and use a scrub brush or tooth brush to remove any paste that stubbornly adhered to the skull. Place back in front of a heat source or in the sun until skull is dry. If teeth fell out, you can glue them back in when dry. If the teeth fit tightly when skull is wet, then you better jam them in because when it dries, the skull will shrink and the teeth will no longer fit. If the nasal bones came off, make sure that you zip tie them in place while wet so that the bones dry together. Otherwise they will warp and you won’t be able to glue them back on without re-soaking. The end nasal bones can then be permanently glued in place when skull is dry. Elmers white glue works well for this. 

2015 Update: I really think that the plastic wrapped skull submersed in warm water for my last step has been a huge help finishing off the whitening process and whitening hard to reach places like inside nasals etc even when I am simply "pasting" the skull. I can't decide if hot water or warm water is better. Hot water might cause grease to leach to surface...but then again it might help last grease to release and float to surface.


You can't really over-whiten, but you CAN over heat. If your temps are greater than that of the average indoor heater blowing on skull, or the inside of a warm pickup cab, the peroxide can become very reactive and disintegrate skull or become volatile. So far I have not had negative effects of soaking wrapped skull in hot water (about 120 degrees hot).

40 volume hair peroxide is not 40% concentration. 40 volume is 12% (4x stronger than drug-store 3% in the brown bottles). 20 volume is 6%.

Baquacil Oxidizer is 27% and is supposed to be great, but it is harder to buy and I have no experience with it.

Don't mess with high concentrations of peroxide from chemical plants or mix metals with strong peroxide. It can explode.

 Using peroxide paste for elk:

 Soaking deer in 20vol peroxide:
I place skull in big ziplock bag, fill bag with however much peroxide I have (less than a gallon in this case), and then submerse in bucket of warm water so that it warms the peroxide (better reaction). The water in the bucket presses on the bag, which decreases the volume in the bag, which means you can use a lot less peroxide to still fully submerge skull!

A deer or pronghorn sized skull can be fully submersed in strait 20vol (or any strength for that matter) in a "shoebox" style plastic container. One gallon is about right for volume. Keep the peroxide below base of horns and use colorless paper towels or rags to drape over exposed skull cap and wick up peroxide. You can pour peroxide over it too to help.

October 2016 Update: I did this with pronghorn and big buck deer and really liked the results. My water was HOT in bucket for deer, and it was still warm at end of the day. My skull was amazing. Some peroxide fizzed up and whitened the edges of part of my burs, but nothing that I can't fix...or just leave it alone since it was the back of the bur.

December 2017 Update: Pictures of soaking skull in peroxide, then soaking in hot water to rinse out the peroxide and have a final reaction with it  in the bone. This is now my favorite method for deer/pronghorn sized skulls because it is fast and easy. 24 hours for 20vol or stronger peroxide. Three days for drugstore 3%.

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