Abalone shells can be found on almost any beach and are a beautiful collector’s item. However, they are often filled with debris, dirt, and grime that reduce the overall shine of the case. But you can clean abalone shells you find on the beach to a polished shine for use in fine jewelry. The following steps will help your abalone shells shine.
Things you will need:
Bowl of water
Put on your mask and gloves. Keep them throughout the cleaning process.
Clean the inside of the casing. If there is still meat inside, use an abalone griddle to get it out of the shell. An abalone iron is a piece of metal with a handle that is rounded at one end and is primarily used to release abalone from shells and rocks for harvesting. Place the iron next to the abalone and place it between the shell and the creature, moving it around the perimeter of the shell until the gastropod breaks free.
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Rinse the inside of the abalone shell in cold water, scrub it with a toothbrush to remove any flesh particles. Once clean and dry, rub the surface with your finger. Any dirt or cloudiness must be removed.
Cleaning the outside of the case is a bit more involved. Fill a container with mild soap and water and submerge the toothbrush in the water before scrubbing the outer surface of the casing. This should remove some of the accumulated dirt and debris.
Use the abalone iron to break up barnacles and larger growths. Then, rub the shell again with the toothbrush.
If any foreign particles remain, leave the case under a running tap for one to two hours. This should help clear debris.
Once the shell is cleaned to your liking, coat the outside with a varnish such as Varathane. Use your brush to paint over the varnish in a light layer. Let the varnish dry completely before touching it.
How to cut and polish abalone shells?
Abalone, with shells similar to those of oysters, have been used to decorate royal robes and turbans in ancient times. Abalone used to be the “currency of the kingdom” in the age of barter and trade. There are eight species native to the west coast of North America: red, black, green, flat, corrugated, white, threaded, and speckled. Abalone is found in many forms of jewelry pieces, from baroque to formal, in many designs and styles. The parasite, the lacquer-like outer covering, must be removed to expose the colorful bands created by genetic factors and the abalone’s diet.
Soak abalone shells in copper sulfate to remove algae and parasite infestations. Scrub, dry, and sandblast the shells to prepare them for cutting.
Cut the shells underwater using the various cutting tools to form the desired basic shapes. Since calcium carbonate dust on shells can cause silicosis, you should use a respirator and fans for ventilation when cutting shells.
Place the cut parts of the shell in a drum for 24 to 72 hours using three changes of sand. Wash and polish the shells, either with a polisher or by hand, to make the surface as shiny as possible.
The shell pieces are now ready to be drilled or installed to create an individual piece of jewelry.
Due to the extremely toxic nature of abalone, never work with the shells unless they are under a constant stream of water. If you feel nauseous, stop immediately and get some fresh air.
Abalone has been placed on Canada’s “Endangered Species” list, with limited numbers and sizes for cultivation. As a result, abalone has become an expensive source of jewelry pieces.
How to clean the inside of abalone shells
Abalone is a type of snail that lives inside a flat shell. The elm grows, the holes form in a single row on the side of the shell. According to the marine science website, the holes are used for “breathing, sanitation, and reproduction.
1. Place the elm shell in a sink and turn on the water. But the temperature of the water doesn’t matter.
2. Brush the inside of the elm shell with a toothbrush. This will remove any abalone meat or dirt from inside the shell. Be soft so as not to break the shell. Turn off the water.
3. Wipe the shell and dry the shell with a cloth or paper towel.