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 Post subject: Tanning pelts at home
PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 14:26 
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Ok I'm used to brain tanning and although it works it doesn't work great. So I want to know how people here tan at home and the ingredients and steps everything

Thanks redneckr3bel

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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 15:25 
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Location: Orange, Texas
I've used the solution below a few weeks ago on two beaver pelts and it made good leather. This was my first try at tanning, had some hair slip on one pelt but the other came out fine. Sorry for the lengthy response, couldn't copy the location. I used 2 gal of water and adjusted salt and alum accordingly. Had plenty for two xxl pelts. Have fun!!

This is meant to be a quick and easy guide for those that want to
permanently tan animal hides for use in making clothing such as
viking age kit. I am a viking re-enactor and have been tanning
hides for over 35 years. The first hide I ever tanned was a
squirrel and it is still soft supple leather that bugs do not eat, it
does not have an odor, and the hair does not fall out.

This guide is not going to include instructions for skinning and
fleshing an animal skin.

What you need;

A four, five, or six gallon bucket.
Five pounds of salt.
Five pounds of alum.
Something in the way of a stirring stick or rod.
Somewhere to hang a wet skin to let it drain and dry where the
salt dripping on the ground will not kill the petunias.
A skinned and fleshed hide of a mammal. I have never tried this
with a fish, reptile, amphibian or bird. It might work, it might
not.

Depending on the size of the animal or the number of skins you
are tanning at once, decide how much water will be needed to
cover the skins. A small squirrel need only have a gallon of
water. A large coyote will take about three gallons. The reason
we want a larger bucket is to make room for the salt and alum
and the skin itself. Let's assume you are tanning a coyote hide.

Step 1: Fill the bucket with three gallons of water. Add a pound
of salt per gallon of water; that's three pounds. Stir with the
stick until it is completely dissolved. Add the coyote skin to the
solution inside out or hair side in, whichever you prefer. Stir
until the skin has been completely soaked and has no air pockets
to make it float.

Go back and stir the skin and solution a couple of times a day to
make sure the salt doesn't settle and the hide is getting evenly
treated. If you forget it for a day no biggie. Do this for a week.

Take the hide out and hang it where it can drain. Not on your
wifes flowers. The salt will kill grass too.

Depending on the cleanliness or filthiness of the hides you just
pickled, you can either dump the saltwater out somewhere
where you don't want any vegetation to grow (like the Greeks
did to Troy), or if it is still clean and you have bought two
buckets you can reuse the salt water for your next batch of
hides. You can safely dump this down the toilet unless you have
a septic tank. Then it can kill your good crap eating bacteria and
cause all kinds of issues.

Step 2: Fill the bucket with three gallons of water again. This
time you will add a half a pound of salt and a half a pound of
alum per gallon of water. For three gallons that is a pound and a
half of salt and a pound and a half of alum. Stir with the stick
until it is completely dissolved. Add the coyote skin to the
solution inside out or hair side in, whichever you prefer. Stir
until the skin has been completely soaked and has no air pockets
to make it float.

Go back and stir the skin and solution a couple of times a day to
make sure the salt and alum doesn't settle and the hide is getting
evenly treated. If you forget it for a day no biggie. Do this for a
week.

Take the hide out and hang it where it can drain. Not on your
wifes flowers. The salt and alum will kill grass too. You can
safely dump this down the toilet unless you have a septic tank.
Then it can kill your good crap eating bacteria and cause all
kinds of issues.

Again, if the liquid is still clean you can save it to reuse if you
like. If it is dirty you can dump it.

Now if you have gone this far you have a tanned coyote skin
hanging outside and your neighbors are looking at you funny and
wondering about you. Let them wonder and let it hang. If you
are going to display the coyote hide intact with face and all don't
hang it by the face as it dries or it will stretch into an distorted
monster instead of a beautiful animal.

You want the hide to dry, but you have to keep checking it so
you know when it is getting just dry enough for the next step.
You need to stretch it to break the tissue in the skin and make it
stay soft. If it dries too much it will start getting stiff. As the
hide dries, keep checking it and pulling it to stretch it. You will
learn to see and feel when it gets the right dryness. You will be
stretching it and it will suddenly turn white. This is exactly what
you want. Keep checking and stretching it as it dries and you
will eventually get the whole hide to turn white and soft. The
more you stretch it the softer it will get. You can even hang the
nearly done hide over the back of a chair, hair side in mind you,
and pull it back and forth over the chair back. You can do this
with large hides over a barn rafter or out in the Longhall. The
more you work it now the softer the hide will get.

That's it. I used to recommend oiling the hide. Now I think it
ruins them as they swell up with oil and aren't that nice soft cloth
like leather I like. If they get wet they will need to be stretched
again as they dry or they will get stiff.

FAQ;

Q: Can't I brain tan or egg tan hides easier and cheaper?
A: I have friends that do that. I have found that bugs and
rodents will feed on them as brains and eggs are edible.

Q: Where can I find alum?
A: Type "alum powder bulk" in google and it will give you places to buy alum. Here's one;
<http://nuts.com/cookingbaking/leavenerthickener/alum-powder.html?gclid=CLi0h6v__68CFQoDQAodBnBw6Q>

Q: It worked! But why do I have left over alum?
A: So you can use it next time.

Have a nice day!

Sam


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 18:14 
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Joined: 14 Mar 2008, 20:20
Posts: 11655
Location: west virginia
I've used a lot of different methods over the years . I tried brain tanning but didn't like the results. I've used Curatan, Krowtann, and a few others. They all work well but I started using Swamp Rat's acid tan and it is all I use now.

First I flesh the hides and salt them for a couple days. The salt helps dry them out and set the hair.
Mix 4 gallons water, 4 pounds of salt, and 4 ounces battery acid per gallon of water. Soak the hides in the solution for at least 3 days .
Stir the hides at least once a day.
Rinse the hides then neutralize the hides in a mix of water and borax, I use the powdered borax. I mix about 1 cup of borax in 3 or 4 gallons of water. I usually let them sit in the borax overnight.
rinse again in water.
soften the hides as they dry.

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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 18:26 
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Joined: 09 Nov 2010, 11:58
Posts: 1302
Location: Kansas
Back in the late 70's I used salt and alum to tan a coon and it turned out beautiful with no slippage at all and very suple. Was very pleased with it. Don't ever no what happened to it, but had it for a long time and it stayed perfect with no bug problems ever. Over the years I could not remember the formula to it. The formula you just listed is it. Perfectly. Thank you very much! 8) :wink:

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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 19:25 
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Location: Lufkin, TX
doc9013 wrote:
I've used a lot of different methods over the years . I tried brain tanning but didn't like the results. I've used Curatan, Krowtann, and a few others. They all work well but I started using Swamp Rat's acid tan and it is all I use now.

First I flesh the hides and salt them for a couple days. The salt helps dry them out and set the hair.
Mix 4 gallons water, 4 pounds of salt, and 4 ounces battery acid per gallon of water. Soak the hides in the solution for at least 3 days .
Stir the hides at least once a day.
Rinse the hides then neutralize the hides in a mix of water and borax, I use the powdered borax. I mix about 1 cup of borax in 3 or 4 gallons of water. I usually let them sit in the borax overnight.
rinse again in water.
soften the hides as they dry.


Baking soda to neutralize the acid, not Borax.

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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 21:24 
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Joined: 14 Mar 2008, 20:20
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Location: west virginia
Oops, you're right Swamp , although borax can also be used as a buffering agent. :oops: :oops:

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Those who trade liberty for security shall have neither.

"Take ye heed,watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is".

Rev. 6:8 and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was death , and Hell followed with him.


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2014, 22:19 
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Joined: 09 Nov 2010, 11:58
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Location: Kansas
Swamp Rat wrote:
doc9013 wrote:
I've used a lot of different methods over the years . I tried brain tanning but didn't like the results. I've used Curatan, Krowtann, and a few others. They all work well but I started using Swamp Rat's acid tan and it is all I use now.

First I flesh the hides and salt them for a couple days. The salt helps dry them out and set the hair.
Mix 4 gallons water, 4 pounds of salt, and 4 ounces battery acid per gallon of water. Soak the hides in the solution for at least 3 days .
Stir the hides at least once a day.
Rinse the hides then neutralize the hides in a mix of water and borax, I use the powdered borax. I mix about 1 cup of borax in 3 or 4 gallons of water. I usually let them sit in the borax overnight.
rinse again in water.
soften the hides as they dry.


Baking soda to neutralize the acid, not Borax.

Through me for a loop on that one. Battery acid! :shock: I would have thought different about it. I know what it does to my cloths if it come in contact. :evil: Would have never of thought that. Does the water delute it enough to cause no harm? :?

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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2014, 10:42 
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Joined: 06 Nov 2013, 18:01
Posts: 1369
Borax, lye etc will strip the hair. They boil wood ashes(lye)to strip hair off deer hide etc to make buckskin. Most drugstores still carry alum. Its sold in 1 lb containers here and on occasion ive seen it in a metallic package( aluminum foil paper backed?)thats vacuum sealed. Price varies wildly here, shop around if you can find several places with it. Both our walgreens have it and theres several in springfield too. Here its in the pharmacy and not on the shelves/floor.

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PostPosted: 30 Dec 2014, 12:58 
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Joined: 29 Sep 2012, 14:48
Posts: 415
Location: River of Turtles, South Florida
I've braintanned several coons, possums, and 2 otters. They've all turned out satisfactory. The main difference in brain tanning compared to modern methods is that it is more labor intensive. Hides need to be fleshed completely off all membrane, meat, and fat, membrane needing to be removed completely or it will hinder the process since it will block the oils from soaking into the actual fibers of the hide. The reason brains are used in the tanning process is because of the emulsified oils in the brains. When those oils are soaked into a hide, the hide can be stretched and pulled as it dries, causing the collagen fibers of the skin to remain loose and relaxed, giving you a soft hide. You can also replace brains with other oils, which is what I do. Eggs can be used (used them twice and turned out fine) or my now-preferred method of plain ivory soap and Neatsfoot leather oil. As per the brain tanning method, after "oiling" and stretching, a good smoke session finishes the job. The smoke (specifically the aldehyde in smoke I think) locks the fibers of the skin in the relaxed state, and allows the hide to be re-softened should the hide get wet.

Some "purists" would debate the use of the "acid tan" mentioned as not being a true "tan," only a "preservation" (very similar to pickling food) I've done something similar before with roadkill hides that had hair slippage beginning. 1 pound citric acid and 1 pound salt per 1 gallon of water, soak hide for about 3 days keeping the ph between 1-2. The acidic conditions kill and prevent bacteria and lock the hair into the hide. Hair-splitting aside, if it works it works ;--)

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