Q:

What are some tips on bleaching sand dollars to preserve them?

A:

Quick Answer

To preserve sand dollars, first bleach and then harden the shells to prevent odor and breakage. Before attempting any type of bleaching, soak the shells in clear water, and change it frequently until the water runs clear to ensure the sand dollars are clean. Pat the sun dollars dry, and lay them out in the sun or on a bed of silica gel in an airtight container to dry for about a week.

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Full Answer

Place the dry sand dollars in a solution of half bleach and half water. Allow them to soak for only 20 minutes; the shells may crumble if left in for longer. Remove them from the solution and rinse them in clean water. Dry the shells in the sun. The longer they stay in the sun, the whiter they become, but they also become more brittle due to sun exposure.

To avoid crumbling shells, you can whiten them by washing the sand dollars in a solution of 1 tablespoon of Woolite to 1 gallon of warm water instead of soaking them in a bleach solution.

Preserve the sand dollars by hardening them with either white glue or clear nail polish. For a matte finish, mix equal parts of glue and water together, and apply it to the shells with a paint brush. For a shiny finish, apply a layer of clear nail polish to the shell. Always harden one side of the shell at a time, and allow time to dry before painting the other side.

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