Are you a beachcomber? Are you always on the lookout for a unique shell, sand dollar or piece of driftwood?
There is some cool stuff along our beaches, no doubt about it. But just how do you protect and preserve those little treasures you pick up on your morning walk?
Glad you asked!
The first step is to keep them clean. Soak a sand dollar in fresh water and change the water frequently until it stays clear. Then soak the sand dollar in a mix of half water, half bleach for a few minutes. Rinse with fresh water and set out in the sun to dry. The sun will help bleach the sand dollar. You can repeat until it is as white as you want it. Then harden and protect it by painting the sand dollar with a mix of half glue and half water.
For seashells, first check to be sure there is nothing living in it – you don’t want to kill a creature. If the shell is empty, soak it in a half bleach/half water solution to remove algae. Use a stiff brush or toothbrush to clean better if needed. Otherwise, keep the shell natural and display in a decorative bowl, jar or shadow-box frame.
As for driftwood, give it a good rinse in fresh water. Be sure to get in all the cracks or holes. Then wash the piece with a little dishwashing liquid and water. After that, soak the driftwood in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. (Be sure to use gloves anytime you are working with bleach.) After bleaching the wood thoroughly, give it another good rinse with a garden hose and set it out in the sun to dry for three to five days. What you do with it after that is up to you. Driftwood can be used to make candleholders, frames and even furniture.
Keepsakes like these serve as a beautiful reminder of your beach vacation.
But as you are collecting new memories and mementos, please remember to also be a good steward of our natural resources. Stay off dunes, leave sea oats and other vegetation intact, and keep the beach and waterways free of litter.