I bought a camel bone carving that I wanted to make into a
pin/pendant. It had a faint smokey smell when I bought it, but the
odor intensified the longer I had it. After a while the smell was
overwhelming. It was so offensive, that using it as a pin or pendant
(close to one’s nose) was out of the question.
When I did some research, I found that smoking bones to age them was
a common practice. I also found someone who prepares scientific bone
specimens for a living and he said that even after bone has been
cleaned of all protein, it still retains some residual unsaturated
fats and oils within the bone matrix. Those oils become rancid upon
exposure to air and light and smell quite bad. He said that one must
de-fat/degrease the bone in a strong solvent bath like lacquer
thinner, which is a powerful solvent that evaporates rapidly and
leaves no residue or odor.
Not having lacquer thinner, I soaked the bone carving in pure bleach
for 24 hours. When I rinsed and checked it, all traces of the BBQ
smell were gone. I knew that the bleach was drying and I did not want
the bone to dry out and split, so I soaked it in pure water for a
couple of days (rinsing and changing the water often) to get any
bleach residue out. Then I soaked the carving in pure baby oil
(mineral oil) for 3-5 days. I then laid it on an absorbent cloth and
let it air dry on a window sill for a few days more. The carving did
not have the same patina, but it smelled neutral and has never
cracked or split. In fact, I now like it better without the patina.
Good luck and keep us posted on how you deal with your beads.
Santa Monica, California