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Abalone Shell ~ Cleaning

I love the beach and I have walk miles and miles collecting shells and stones. I love to create one of a kind pendants with my finds.

The search begins

Cleaning the barnacles off and getting down to the top of the original shell. So the web searching began. Tried several tips from others and what a mess. Some said soak them in vinegar and water, bleach and some said to use Acid.Vinegar and water started eating through the shell were there was hardly any barnacles. So that was a bust. Bleach did not help and I was not going to try any kind of Acid.

Acid Method

Acid Method

Even thinking of using Acid makes me cringe.

Muriatic acid is a highly reactive liquid acid, and one of the MOST DANGEROUS CHEMICALS you can buy for home use. It is an industrial-strength solution of hydrogen chloride gas dissolved in water, also known as hydrochloric acid. Yep, muriatic acid is "super stomach acid"!

Muriatic acid has many commercial and home uses, including:

industrial synthesis of vinyl chloride and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)

  • food additive
  • gelatin production
  • descaling
  • leather processing
  • household cleaning (when diluted)
  • pickling of steel
  • production of inorganic chemical compounds
  • pH control of water, food and drugs
  • regenerating ion exchange resins
  • purification of table salt
  • building construction
  • to dissolve rock in oil production
  • occurs naturally in gastric acid to digest food

My other concern was where to you put the acid when you're done with it. Can not put it down your drain, You do not want to let it run down your driveway. This this method was not for me.

Bleach Method

Bleach Method

I tried his method and it did not do much. It took some of the color out and loosen up some of the barnacles. I was so concern about the bleach spilling and getting on my cloths and I also did not get the result I wanted. I need to get of all of the barnacles of to make the top as smooth as possiable to use them to make jewelry.

What worked for me

What I discovered that Liquid soap and hot water works. It is time consuming but the final look is what I wanted. I just did 1 at a time. I would soak it for a few hours is very hot water and soap. Then I would use a big wire brush. Keep the shell wet and scrub any loose barnacles. when you do not see anything breaking loose any more start over with soaking them. Once the really hard barnacles where gone and the top was smoother I started using a smaller wire brush after soaking. When I finally started see the look I wanted I changed to a soft wire brush and soaking. Here is finally my clean shell.....

Abalone Shells


My next conquest

My next adventure is a way to cut them down into smaller pieces so they can be made into One of a Kind Wire Wrapped Pendant. A dremel with a cutting disk is what I have chosen to use. I just love electric tools.

Make sure you were breathing protection.

Cut down Abalone Shells

Cut down Abalone Shells

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© 2015 Shelli Godinho


Shelli Godinho (author) from Ontario, California on June 09, 2017:

It took several soaking and scrubbing. Soaking a couple days after each scrubbing. Scrubbing a few hours.

Sorry it took so long to answer

Merenia Stockley on December 13, 2016:

How long do you think it took altogether? Or how many rounds of soaking did you have to do on average per shell approximately?

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