How to clean and preserve sea urchins

sea urchins

Florida’s beaches, as well as other beaches around the world, beckon with soft white sand, gentle waves and the promise of a world class shelling adventure. Seashells and coral can be found along Florida’s shores regularly along with other unique and prized finds- sea urchins. Unfortunately, most of the time sea urchins found on the beach still contain piece of meat and sometimes spines, making the need to clean them easy to see and smell. To make things easier, here’s a step by step guide on how to clean and preserve sea urchins.

How to clean sea urchins

Much like seashells, cleaning sea urchins is a multi-step process that is more or less easy to complete. Unlike seashells however, you’ll want to take extreme care when handling sea urchins as they can easily break into several pieces while being held and while being moved during the cleaning process. The steps to follow are:

  • First soak the sea urchins in a container filled with warm water (tap water is just fine) for about a day or so. This will help to soften any leftover meat that may be either on the inside or outside of the shell.
  • Next you’ll want to take a pair of tweezers and gently pull out the leftover meat. If there are a few pieces that are unwilling to pull off, don’t force it. It’s better to just put the sea urchin back into the water for a longer soak than risk breaking the piece of shell that is attached to the unwilling meat.
  • The next step is to take a large bowl and mix in beach and water at a ratio of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Place your sea urchins in the water.
  • Leave the urchins in the mixture for about 20 to 30 minutes, while keeping a close eye on them to see if the meat is falling off. You may need to pull the urchin out of the mixture for a quick glance as the mixture may change color making the urchins difficult to see at the bottom on of the bowl.
  • Keep the urchins in the mixture until all of the meat is off, then gently with a slow flow of water, rinse each urchin clean. This is important as you don’t want any of the bleach mixture to remain on the sea urchin as it will slowly weaken the urchin more.

How to preserve sea urchins

After your sea urchins have been all cleaned and dried, the next step is to start preserving the sea urchins. This step, though quick, should be taken with care as each sea urchin is extremely frail. The last thing you’ll want is a bunch of clean sea urchin pieces. What you’ll need is:

  • Liquid Elmer’s glue
  • Room temperature water
  • A small painter’s brush
  • A large bowl
  • Wax paper

As glue is used in most craft repair projects, it’s no surprise that glue is essential in the preserving process. What you’ll want to do is in your large bowl, make a mixture of Elmer’s glue and water, about a ratio of 1:1 should work.

Then you can either use your brush to carefully apply the mixture to the outside of the urchin or you can simply dip the urchin into the large bowl of mixture. You’ll want to base this on how fragile your sea urchin is. If it’s about to break, the brushing method should be used, if it’s holding up pretty well, then the dipping method should work out just fine.

Once you are done with the glue step, it’s time to carefully place the urchins on a piece of wax paper that has been laid on a flat surface. This is when the glue mixture hardens, helping to create an extra layer of protection. After about 10 minutes or so, the mixture should be dry (depending on how humid your home or backyard is) and the sea urchin can be used in your home decor. If wanted, you can also leave the urchins to dry over night, helping to make sure they are completely ready before picking up.

*Keep in mind that the sea urchins are still delicate and no matter the amount of glue mixture applied, care should always be taken when handling these amazing gifts from the sea.