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Old 06-22-2013, 09:00 PM
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Default Mothballs and Odor

I was given a pheasant skin in January. I prepared the skin with Borax for about 2 months. Then I washed the feathers, let them air dry and threw them in some ziplock bags. I added some mothballs and closed the bags. The odor in my room was so bad, I couldn't keep the bags in my room. I put them in my basement and garage where they have sat for the past month. Now I want to start using some of the material, but I'll be damned if I'm bringing that odor back into the house. So here are some questions:
1. I'm assuming if I remove the mothballs and open the bags, the odor will dissipate, but will I have to worry about bugs coming back?
2. What options, other than dealing with the odor, do I have if I want to use the feathers but want to ensure they are bug free?
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Mothballs and Odor

I've been through a bad infestation of the nasty bugs
The smell of mothballs is now very comforting to me
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:18 AM
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Default Re: Mothballs and Odor

Subject to correction here (I've never had a bug issue) I've read that a good blasting in the microwave can do the job on bugs.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:20 PM
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Default Re: Mothballs and Odor

Clean, clean, clean... zap in microwave, freeze, allow to open air dry, re-bag in fresh bags, put a 3x5 card inside with date and origin of material.

Cleaning is a *HUGE* step towards ensuring you have no bugs, whether we're talking about "hunt harvested" materials or commercially purchased ones. I've had insects show a few months after the purchase of a Hoffman cape.

I have a kit of tools that is used specifically for cleaning and preparing materials for storage so I don't get in <r@p with SWMBO. I have a selection of very sharp knives and x-acto knives, a pair of poultry shears, a pair of stainless steel sewing scissors, a couple of large spoons, another couple of spoons with one edge ground a bit sharp (for scraping), a package of white bar towels, a couple of plastic containers for soaking and dry treating, a few combs and brushes, some DAWN detergent, hair conditioner, baking soda, salt and BORAX.

Take a picture in sunlight and artificial light of your feather patch prior to cleaning and after your final step and you'll be SHOCKED at the difference in color and natural sheen of the feathers and skin.

For feathers, I always go above and beyond when it comes to cleaning them... turn the patch over, skin side up, remove any 'extra' skin with shears or an x-acto knife, then use a spoon to scrape off any visible fat or other foreign matter. If you find some that is on a very thin area of the skin, wait until you have soaked the patch before trying to scrape that off.

Run HOT water into your sink, and place a double layer of newspapers on the adjacent sink board/counter, covered with a couple of layers of paper towels. Place the patch of feathers in the water and allow it to soak until the skin becomes "pliable", then drain the water. If you had fat/matter on the skin, scrape it off now with a spoon with an edge ground down or by laying a knife flat along the skin's surface. Rinse the skin of any remaining residue, then fill the sink with HOT water again.

Squeeze some DAWN detergent onto the skin side and rub it in well to all areas of the surface; turn the patch over and apply more detergent to the feather side. Rub it into and over the feathers, getting between them as much as possible, then place the patch in the sink filled with water. Allow the patch to soak for 10-15 minutes, then agitate or "swish" the patch around. Drain the sink.

Hold the patch under running warm water and remove all of the soap from both sides of the patch, then rinse once more under cold water. Fold the patch in half, "feather to feather side", and squeeze as much water as possible out of the patch.

Lay the patch (feather side down) onto the pad of paper towels and newspapers and stretch/straighten the skin out as much as possible. Blot the skin side with paper towels to remove any water on the surface, then turn the patch over and do the same on the feather side.

At this point you have a couple of choices... if it's warm enough in your house and you have a ceiling fan over a table, you can place the patch on a white cotton bar towel and let the fan air dry it, turning it over occasionally to make sure both sides get dry.

If this isn't an option for you, place the patch (skin side down) over the back of your hand (sort of like a puppet), and use a hair dryer on low blowing up and under the feathers row by row until it gets dry. Don't get the tip of the hair dryer too close, you don't want to "warm up" the skin patch. The skin patch should get a little 'crinkly' if you got all of the fat and other junk trimmed/scraped off of it.

Now, you can let it cool completely and run it in the microwave on half power for a minute, place it in a zip-top bag when completely cool, burp all of the air out of it, seal it , and freeze it for two days.

Remove it from the freezer, put the patch on a white cotton towel and make sure there are no ice crystals in the bag and air dry the patch again, re-bag it and label it, and you should be done forever with it. No need to use moth balls/crystals or cedar chunks.

Just re-inspect it every six months. If any sign of bugs, eggs or 'nits'... re-do the microwave and freeze steps.

Fur patches are a bit different, but this is quite a bit to digest already =)

Last edited by stimmy7; 07-01-2013 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: Mothballs and Odor

Thanks for the detailed reply.
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