My husband and I both really enjoy collecting seashells together. We have been growing our collection of shells found at the beach together, and have a few projects in mind for some of them – which started with these glass vase lamps we just finished for our bedroom:
When we pick up shells at the beach, they’re almost always wet, which really helps the colorful ones look beautiful. When we get home and clean them off then let them dry, the colorful ones tend to have gotten duller, often with what looks like a white haze. I went looking for ways to bring back their shine and bright colors, and stumbled upon baby oil!
Before using the baby oil, I thoroughly cleaned and disenfected my shells. I started by rinsing any debris off in the bathtub and soaking them in water for several hours. Then, I made a mixture of about 50% water and 50% bleach and soaked the shells in this for another 3-4 hours. Then I soaked the shells in clean water overnight and let them dry on a towel in the morning. Yes – this takes a long time. But most of the time is waiting for things to soak, and other things can be done in the mean time.
I used precision tip Q-tips (which I love using for all kinds of things – they’re great!) to rub a thin layer of baby oil on the parts of the shells where I wanted to shine and/or bring out the color. It did a great job of removing the haze and dullness, and the effect remained even after it had dried! So far its been several weeks, and they are still looking great.
Apparently the mineral oil in baby oil is what actually does the trick – the baby oil I got lists mineral oil and fragrance as the only two ingredients. When I went to my drug store to find mineral oil, it was only available in large containers and for a higher per ounce price than the small 3 oz. container of baby oil I got – which was more than I will ever need.
Sure, you can buy bigger shells at the store for not too much and leave out all this hassle. Eddie and I enjoy beachcombing though, and having pretty things we’ve found together around the house always brings smiles to our faces 🙂