How to preserve a starfish

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “how to preserve a starfish?”, and discuss the different methods used to preserve a starfish.

How to preserve a starfish?

Starfish are preserved as follows:

For display purposes: Starfish for display is preserved with alcohol, bleach, baking soda, salt, or a combination of these.

For food: Starfish is not preserved for cooking. Living starfish are cooked and eaten soon after.

How to preserve starfish for eating?

Starfish is edible but many do not like the taste of starfish. Starfish is considered a delicacy in Indonesia and fried starfish is available as street food in China. 

Usually living starfish is used for cooking. Starfish is prepared for eating by boiling followed by deep-frying or cooking. 

Cooked starfish are usually not preserved and eaten soon after cooking. Because the amount of edible meat in a starfish is really small, it is not worth preserving it for a long time. 

If you buy cooked or fried starfish from a street vendor, eat it then and there. 

How to preserve a dead starfish?

Dried starfish are a beautiful trophy for an ocean life collection.

There are a few ways to preserve dead starfish. 

How to preserve a dead starfish with alcohol?

You can preserve a dead starfish by immersing it in rubbing alcohol.

  • Soak the starfish in isopropyl alcohol. 70% alcohol works best.
  • Cover the starfish and leave it in the alcohol for 24-48 hours.

You can also sun dry the starfish soaked in alcohol for about 48 hours.

How to preserve starfish with bleach and baking soda?

Treating starfish with bleach will deodorize your starfish. Bleach also kills the microorganisms and preserves the starfish and gives the starfish a vibrant color.

  • Mix one part of salt with one part of baking soda. Add the salt, baking soda mix to the bottom of a small box.
  • Make a bleach solution by mixing 1 part of bleach with 3 parts of water.
  • Soak the starfish in the bleach solution for about a minute.
  • Place the starfish in the salt box. Use small weights to weigh down each arm. This will prevent the arms from curling up during drying.
  • Place the box with the starfish in sunlight. Allow the starfish to dry in sunlight for 48 hours.

How to deodorize a dead starfish?

The biggest challenge with preserving a starfish is the smell. If you don’t treat your starfish before drying, the stink will never go away.

Here are a few methods to deodorize a stinky starfish

  1. Boiling in alcohol: Mix equal amounts of water and alcohol in a boiling pan. Soak the starfish in this mixture for about 30 minutes to remove the odor.
  1. Soaking in baking soda: Make a mixture of baking soda and water Soak the starfish in the mixture for at least 48 hours.
  1. Soaking in water: This method takes more time but you only need fresh water. Just soak your starfish in freshwater for about 48 hours. If the starfish still smells after 48 hours, change the water and allow it to soak for another 24 hours.

Now your starfish is ready for display.

How to tell if starfish is alive

Simply turn the starfish upside down and look for movement on the tentacles in the underside. If the tiny tentacles are moving, the starfish is alive.If you are unsure, place the starfish in water and see if the tentacles move. You can also try touching the tentacles gently and watching if there is any movement.

If the starfish is alive, throw it back into the sea, if not you can take it home and preserve it.

What are the tips for preserving starfish?

  • Some varieties of starfish are poisonous. Make sure to find out the species of starfish you are planning to eat or preserve.
  • Cooked starfish cannot be preserved. If you want to eat starfish, try it from a street vendor selling freshly cooked starfish. 
  • It is illegal to remove live starfish from a beach in most parts of the world. Only take dead starfish washed up on the shore.
  • Starfish releases a strong fish odor when drying. Make sure to place them outdoors, where the smell won’t reach inside your house.
  • Smaller starfish dry out faster and are easiest to deodorize. Always select small starfish for preservation. Especially if it is your first time preserving starfish.
  • After drying a starfish for preservation, you can spray paint and decorate the starfish for a more vibrant look. Use a sealant spray to make the starfish more rigid before spray painting.


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “how to preserve a starfish?”, and discussed the different methods used to preserve a starfish

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


Soaking and Drying Tips to Get the Smell Out of Starfish.

How to Bleach Starfish | eHow

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