“2019 BEST IN WORLD WHITETAIL” by Clint Rickey


Tanning Oil Brush On

The “BRUSH ON TANNING” process is the most common of easy-to-use tans.
Basic steps: salt, rehydrate / wash, pickle, shave, degrease, re-pickle, neutralize, brush on Tanning Oil.
1. Split & turn: remove meat, fat, and score membrane

  • if pickling skins raw: wash and/or rinse in COLD water to remove blood (1 fl. oz. Atesan LPW / 5 gal.)
  • if salting 24-48 hours, rehydrate / wash in clean, COLD water until relaxed
    (wet-salted skins need hydrated – simply soak until pliable…use 1 fl. oz. Atesan / 5 gal. as a soap agent)
    Option: a simple “2-hour BRINE SOAK” prior to pickling is effective to introduce salt & remove blood…
    SALT BRINE: 1 volume quart salt (Lowe’s quart paint cup level to top full) per 1 gallon COLD water…
    (3 gallon water + 3 quarts salt for avg. deer cape) …remove after 2 hours, rinse / relax & proceed to pickle…
    if fully salt-dried, rehydrate in the following solution until relaxed…REHYDRATION FORMULA FOR “SALT-DRIED” SKINS: (16-24 hours for most common skins)

    • per gallon COLD water
    • 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (rehydrator)…2 fl. oz. per 5-gallon is good
    • submerge mid-afternoon & rehydrate overnight (16-24 hours)
    • rinse and/or drain briefly, and proceed to pickle
    • see Rehydration Formulas / Tips on page “REHYDRATING / DEODORIZING / PICKLING / DEGREASING”
    • for ODOROUS SKINS see “Deodorizing Instructions / Formula” wash after rehydrating

2. Pickle the skin: skin-side out / down in all tanning solutions

  • per gallon clean cool water (4-5 gallon per avg. whitetail cape)
  • 1 lb. of salt / gallon (salinometer 40-43%)
  • ½ fl. oz LiquaSafe Acid / gallon (pH mid-1 range…lower than 2.0)
    (Note: if using Citric Acid – 3 oz. by weight per gallon pickle…pH 1.8-2.0)
  • optional: ½ fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon (greasy skins: 1 fl. oz / gallon)
    • agitate frequently first 2 hours, then periodically for 3 days
    • keep submerged overnight (important first night)
    • pH mid-1 range (lower than 2.0)
    • check pH 2x/day…stir before checking (pH papers PH12)
    • agitate 1x per day if storing / holding for extended time
    • (storing skins in pickle: keep lid on to keep water from evaporating)
    • pickle deer capes 3 days before shaving / 2 days fine furs / 4-5 days for thicker hides
    • too much salt in pickle shuts down fibers = won’t pickle completely = rawness in finished skins

    Note: using a “single rope tote for a single cape solution” allows better free float for capes…
    it’s more about “surface area” than depth of water – you can spread the shoulders out in a
    circle on a tube incision cape like a “floating umbrella” with all skin components free-floating
    in loose folds underneath in contact w/ solution – this ensures better chemical absorption…
    deer capes float & create cramped “skin-to-skin compression” in a trash can w/ multiple capes…
    imagine a trash can that was 8 ft. tall & held 100 gal. water – all the capes would still be floating
    in the top 10 gallon…think about surface area & free float vs. depth.
    Rubber water troughs permit capes to float “beside each other” and “not on top each other”
    when pickling multiple capes…rope totes work best for single capes.
    Tip: for floating capes such as whitetails, putting a 2nd tote w/ a couple gallons of water
    in it “down inside the first tote w/ the pickle & cape” is a good way to keep evenly submerged
    without compressing during overnights…they fit like solo cups (see photo below)

3. Shave:

GREASY and/or ODOROUS skins perform a PRIMARY DEGREASING after shaving

  • greasy skins: bear, boar, raccoon, beaver, otter, bobcat, coyotes, etc.
  • odorous skins: goats, sheep, elk, antelope, mink, skunk, etc.

Note: using Degreaser in the pickle is recommended, but it is only supplemental …

  • per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
  • 1/4 lb. salt / gallon (2 cups per 5 gallon)
  • 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon (1/2 cup per 5 gal. is good)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda / gallon (helps to relax acidic skin for better penetration)
  • ODOROUS skins: add 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon (1/2 cup per 5 gal. is good)
  • add skin & soak / agitate periodically for 1 to 4 hours (thin skins / fine furs: 30 minutes) …
  • drain only after degreasing & return to pickle
  • using a “cooler w/ a lid” will help maintain water temperature

Note: extremely greasy skins can be degreased up to 4 hours…
and more than once
on consecutive days…
simply return to pickle overnight (do not degrease twice on same day)

4. Re-pickle: return to original pickle minimum overnight (longer is better)

5. Neutralize for “BRUSH ON TANNING”:

  • drain well from pickle (neutralize skin-side out / down)
  • per 5 gallons of clean cool water
  • 2 cups of salt (1/4 lb. / gallon)
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda (appx. 1 oz. by weight / gallon) – MIX WELL before adding skin
  • add skin & agitate frequently for 30-45 minutes (whitetails / medium skins)
    (thin skins / fine furs 15 minutes…heavier hides 45 minutes to 1 hour)OPTION 2: EXACT PH NEUTRALIZATION – “Less Shocking”…PH FINISH OF 4.0-4.5
    (Summary: 1 tablespoon baking soda at a time…15-minute soaks…FINAL pH 4.0-4.5)
    Average Deer-Size Cape:
  • per 5 gallon cool water
  • 2 cups salt (1/4 lb. per gallon) …MIX WELL
  • add drained pickled skin…agitate well / soak for 5-10 minutes
  • then add 1 tablespoon baking soda (dip out some solution and pre-mix first, then add…MIX WELL)
  • soak 15 minutes…repeat this until solution pH is 4.0-4.5 after a 15-minute soak
    • once target pH of 4.0-4.5, soak additional 15 minutes
    • rinse, spin-out excess water and oil

    Bobcat / Coyote-Size Skin:

    • 2 1/2 gallon water
    • 1 cup salt (1/4 lb. per gallon)
    • 1 TEASPOON measure baking soda at a time

6. Rinse in clean water & spin out (or drain & towel-wick well):

  • rinsing from neutralization shuts down the basification process
    (rids hair of high pH baking soda which could cause looseness)
  • skins need to be damp / thirsty / not wet to absorb oil
    (too much water in fiber = oil just floats on top & doesn’t soak in well)

    Note: using an old washing machine on spin-cycle is the best way to extract water
    (DO NOT use a washing machine to wash and/or rinse a skin)
    2 full cycles is good – once hair-side out & once skin-side out
    (you can simply put the drain hose into a 5-gal. bucket…or plumb)

7. Apply BRUSH ON TANNING OIL (warmed) to skin surface:

  • approximately 100 deg F oil temperature – DO NOT BOIL
    (8 fl. oz. for avg. deer cape – heat appx. 20 seconds in microwave)
  • also apply oil to the front / inner hair-side of ears w/ cartilage
    (oil does not penetrate cartilage well)

    Note: pics illustrate optimal way to “oil a tube incision cape” for sweating…
    use this same technique when salting as well.

8. Fold & sweat:

  • leave hair-side out at room temperature overnight for optimal absorption & stretch
  • do not bag to sweat & do not refrigerate
    (cold temperatures restricts skin fiber & gels the oil = restricts absorption)

9. Ready to mount or bag & freeze: (do not wash / rinse prior to freezing)

  • to mount, rinse well in lukewarm water & spin-out (or towel-wick)
  • you can wash & rinse for optimal fluff (keep wash cycle brief)
    Wash: 5 gal. lukewarm water + 2 cups salt + 1 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (rinse in cool water / spin-out)


    (optional to use PRO-1 HEAVY DUTY BRUSH ON)

    • sweat oil in overnight
    • next morning hang skin-exposed to dry
    • (for heavy hides apply a 2nd coat of oil before hanging to dry)
    • stretch during drying and break at 85-90% dry until soft

    Note: see dry-tan finishing instructions on SUBMERSIBLE – TANNERY QUALITY SYSTEM page… these instructions work for any finishing of an oiled skin, regardless of tanning system used. (includes instructions for how to clean fur / hair when you don’t have a tumbler)