Fish scales  2016

Course: Methodology - Creative thinking    

Garðar Eyjólfsson
Thomas Edouard Pausz
Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir
Thomas Vailly
Tinna Gunnarsdóttir
Brynhildur Pálsdóttir

The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy and the utilization is on of the best in the food production in Iceland.

I mapped the fish in my research journey, like a fish utilization. My working focus was on the scales.

In the South West of Iceland the scale from Redfish is utilized, mainly for mink food but for pet food as well. In other areas the scales are thrown away as waste.


The scale samples on the left are from redfish, that have been heated and pressed. This material looks and feels a lot like some kind of plastic and it is very light. 

Fish scales are an example of a bio-composite. A large part of fish scales is made up of the protein collagen, a biopolymer. In fish scales the collagen is combined with a hard inorganic crystalline material to form a composite that is strong and waterproof.

Pearl Essence

Guanine is deposited in the epidermal layer and on the scales of most of the pelagic fishes. Since those crystalline guanines are suspended in a suitable solvent in the manufacture process, the product is called pearl essence. The scales are collected from pelagic fish as sardines, mackerels, carps, mullets and ribbon fishes and are preserved in 10-15% common salt solution until they are processed. The scales are soaked in gasoline to separate pearl essence from protein and water. The pearl essence is transferred into gasoline where it floats to the surface. The separated pearl essence is then filtered to obtain the fine particles of essence. It is used for photography, ash trays, fishing rods, book covers, textiles, jewelry boxes, umbrella handles and electric light switches.