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BBQ smelling beads


#1

Dear fellow Orchidians,

I have a strange development from a recent purchase in Tucson. I
bought some lovely carved cow bone beads from a vendor. At the time
of purchase, I did notice that the booth smelled strongly of some
strange pungent odor. I thought nothing of this since the area of
purchase had other vendors burning various incense and the like. Long
story shorter, now a month later in my studio the bone beads STILL
smell strongly of BBQ/beef stew. I have put them outside for a week
in the garage to air out in cold weather conditions with no luck
dissipating the aroma. It did diminish SOME. Who on this list has
experience with cow bone beads? Please help my olfactory dilema,

denise in Dayton where the snow is melting


#2

Hi Denise.

Do you have a vacuum investing system? Try pumping them down to
vacuum, and leaving them there for 6-12 hours. (Cycle the pump every
so often to keep the chamber pumped down.) Aromatics are volatile
chemicals. They should boil off under vacuum. The only question is
how much of them is there, and how long can you keep them pumped
down. (And whether the latter is greater than the former.)

Best,
Brian.


#3

I’m guessing the smell was from the processing and cleaning of the
bone. I wonder if you could bury them in baking soda for several
days until the smell is absorbed (if they’re strung, take the string
string out since it might be adding to the bad smell)? I don’t think
dry baking soda could cause any harm to the bone, but if there are
any dyes added, I’d be extra careful and try it on one to see how it
works.

Let us know what you find out…

Jeni


#4
my studio the bone beads STILL smell strongly of BBQ/beef stew. 

I think I’d soak them in chlorine bleach. If there is color you don’t
want to destroy, maybe try an ultrasonic?

Noel


#5

Try putting the pieces into a box with lavender for a week. I’ve
used this to eliminate smoke from items with great success. You can
get lavender at your local Whole Foods or other health-food and herb
store.

Sandra Graves, Isis Rising


#6

Wow, I bought some of those beads, too. I tried putting them in a
bag with citrus room deodorizer, and all it did was to remove the
color from the scrimshawed ones. So I hung them in the garage to air
out, but now when my wife goes into the garage she thinks something’s
burning.

Baking soda? I’m guessing not… these things are pungent! They must
have smoked them to antique the bone.

Maybe time and air is the answer.

Michael Babinski
Foxfire Jewelers (since 1985)
Things Rich & Strange (since 2009)


#7

Hi all,

The update on the BBQ smelling beads. I put the offensive beads in a
ziplock baggie with aquarium grade charcoal pellets on Friday. This
Sunday I opened the bag for a test sniff. Well, the charcoal took
the edge off and nothing more. Next I shall just dump them in a
pyrex dish with some bleach and H2O. I had wanted to keep the very
attractive aged color of the bone but have to cave in to the odor
problem.

i give a heartfelt thank you to all that had suggestions on how to
approach this rather silly, but persistent predicament.

Denise


#8
i give a heartfelt thank you to all that had suggestions on how to
approach this rather silly, but persistent predicament. 

You do also have a final option. Put em on ebay and dump em. Are
they really worth all this trouble? Last I checked, the things are
pretty cheap. Spend too much time trying to make them fit your needs,
and you’ve perhaps tripled, or more, the cost…

Peter


#9

I would bleach them and then add a new color with black tea.

M’lou


#10
The update on the BBQ smelling beads. I put the offensive beads in
a ziplock baggie with aquarium grade charcoal pellets on Friday.
This Sunday I opened the bag for a test sniff. Well, the charcoal
took the edge off and nothing more. Next I shall just dump them in
a pyrex dish with some bleach and H2O. I had wanted to keep the
very attractive aged color of the bone but have to cave in to the
odor problem. 

As someone else has said, most likely they were smoked to get that
patina. Before you try the bleach, have you tried burying the beads
in a container of plain baking soda? It will take several days, but
will absorb a lot of the odor, then give them a brief soak in white
vinegar and rinse well with clean water.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


#11

My mother, an artist, would keep a couple of pieces of vine charcoal
in our refrigerator. I’m guessing she got it from an art supply
store.

Mara Nesbitt-Aldrich


#12

I have been reading with interest about the smelly bone beads. I have
noticed that some bone beads for sale are indeed, smelly, so I never
buy them but what is interesting is that some other vendors have bone
beads that do not smell bad. They are often more expensive and are
often an ivory color but not that darker patina color. Someone said
the darkening might be the culprit and that may be the case but I
wonder if any of the vendors that sell bone beads could clue us in on
this issue. I love the shapes of some of the BBQ beads (although I
think real BBQ smells much better).

Thanks,
Beverly Jones


#13

That BBQ smell is probably an indicator that the beads are rotting,
literally they have bacteria that are living inside them and
producing the smell.

The fact that you can’t get rid of the stench seems to prove that
this is an ongoing situation and that you haven’t managed to kill
them off.

Bone is, to a greater or lesser extent, porous so if you soak them
for long enough in an antibacterial agent (household bleach,
mouthwash etc.) you’ll kill off the bacteria - but they could well
return. You might try roasting them in your oven for a good hour, or
boiling them for 15 minutes.

Personally I’d throw them away.

Tony Konrath


#14

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.

Diana Schwab
Santa Monica, California


#15

If you use bleach to clean your beads a bath in vinegar afterwards
will help counteract the bleach odor. Don’t bath them long or you
have vinegar smelling beads for a while. Perhaps experimenting with a
few in the beginning will help you figure out how long and how strong
a vinegar solution to use.

If the problem is from animal fat residue in the bone, perhaps dry
cleaning fluid might help remove the fat. The halogenated hydrocarbon
now used for dry cleaning are solvents for animal fats.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH