Step-by-Step instructions

Please click on the below guides for direction.

The traditional steps in tanning are as follows:
(variables do exist within specific steps)
- salt
- rehydrate (you cannot put a salt-dried skin "straight in the pickle" without first rehydrating)
- clean / deodorize
- pickle
- shave
- degrease
- re-pickle
- tan

BRUSH-ON TAN

PRO-1 ADVANCED FORMULA PROFESSIONAL TANNING OIL..."BRUSH ON TANNING AGENT"
The "BRUSH ON TANNING" process is the most common of easy to use tans, not considered a submersible tan.
It involves the basic process of pickling, neutralizing, and brushing on the tanning oil agent.

1. Split & turn: remove meat, fat, and score membrane (for optimal chemical penetration)

  • if pickling skins raw: wash and/or rinse in COLD water to remove blood (2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW / 5 gal.)
  • if salting overnight only, rehydrate in clean, COLD water until relaxed
    Option: a simple "2 hour BRINE SOAK" prior to pickling is effective to introduce salt & remove blood...
    SALT BRINE: 1 volume quart salt per 1 gallon COLD water (3 gallon for avg. deer cape)
    (remove after 2 hours, rinse &  proceed to pickle)
  • if fully salt-dried, rehydrate in the following solution until relaxed...

    REHYDRATION FORMULA FOR SALT-DRIED SKINS:

    - per gallon COLD water
    - 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (rehydrator w/ bacterial assist agent)
    - soak overnight or until fully relaxed (start rehydration appx. 3-4 pm & rehydrate overnight - keep submerged)
    - Note: for ODOROUS SKINS see Guides "Rehydrating / Deodorizing / Pickling / Degreasing" for instructions on deodorizing

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

  • per gallon water (not to exceed 80 deg F)...4-5 gallon per avg. whitetail cape = loose folds / not compressed
  • 1 lb. of salt / gallon (salinometer 40-45%)
    Note: too much salt in pickle shuts down fibers = won't pickle completely = rawness in finished skins
  • ½ fl. oz LiquaSafe Acid / gallon (average deer cape will use 3 fl. oz. total)
  • ½ fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon (greasy skins: use 1 fl. oz / gal.)...all skins contain natural oils that need removed
    Note: for complete degreasing of greasy skins, you must perform a "warm water degreasing AFTER shaving" (see Step 3)
    - agitate every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours, then 4x per day Day 1-3 (pH will stabilize Day 3...agitate 1x per day after that if holding skins in pickle)
    - keep submerged first 2 nights (until the pH stabilizes & doesn't rise = skin is done pickling / removed of rawness)
    - the pH should not exceed mid-1 range (pH will be low 1 at the start...lower is fine - just not higher for extended time)
    - check pH of pickle 2 times per day for the first 3 days only (use pH papers PHP12...stir before checking) ...also check morning after shaving

    Note: using a "single rope tote for a single cape solution" allows better free float for whitetail 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 compression in a trash can w/ multiple capes...imagine a trash can that was 8 ft. tall & held 200 gal. water -
    all the capes would still be floating in the top 6-7 gallon (it doesn't matter how many gallons) - think about surface area & free float vs. depth
    (rubber water troughs permit capes to float "beside each other" and "not on top each other" for volume...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 slightly submerged without compressing during the first 2 overnights...they fit like solo cups

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.)

    DEGREASING BATH FORMULA FOR GREASY AND/OR ODOROUS SKINS:
    - per gallon WARM water (85-90 deg F)
    - 1/2 lb. salt / gallon
    - 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon
    - optional / recommended for ODOROUS skins: add 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon
    - add skin & soak / agitate periodically for 1 hour (thin skins & fine furs: 30 min.)…drain only after degreasing & return to pickle
    - Note: using a "cooler w/ a lid" will help maintain water temp. during the degreasing

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 LUKEWARM water
  • 2 cups of salt (1/4 lb. / gallon)
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda (appx. 1 oz. by weight / gal.) - MIX WELL before adding skin
  • add skin & agitate frequently for 30 minutes
    Note: thin skins / fine furs: 2 gallons water + 1 lb. of salt (1/2 lb. / gal.) + 2 oz. baking soda by weight (4 tbsp.) - agitate 15 minutes

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

  • 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 to extract / spin-out water is the best way to get a skin free of excess water...
    use on "spin-cycle" only (DO NOT use a washing machine to wash and/or rinse a skin...use only to extract water)...
    2 full cycles is usually 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 100-120 deg F is optimal 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 skin-to-skin / hair-side out...
    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 fiber & gels the oil = shuts down absorption)

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

  • to mount, rinse well in lukewarm water & spin-out in washing machine (or drain & towel-wick)
  • you can wash & rinse for optimal fluff - keep wash cycle brief (2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW / 5 gal. lukewarm water for washing)

COMPETITION WHITETAIL TANNING

This PRO-1 custom application utilizes our LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE in the pickle with the BRUSH ON TANNING SYSTEM (only).
LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE can be added to any pickle when using BRUSH ON TANS.
Adding LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE to the pickle when using BRUSH ON TANS offers several benefits which include:
(Note: do not use LTC in the pickle if doing a submersible tan afterwards)

  • Whiter Skin / Less Yellowing
  • Less Shrinkage
  • Lighter, More Natural Skin Tones
  • Softer Finish Requiring Less Paint

Salt & Drain:

  • split & turn / rough flesh (remove red meat, fat & score membrane)
  • salt heavily / rub in well (leave in salt overnight up to 24 hours)
  • knock off salt & rinse clean / relax completely in COLD water
  • drain briefly and proceed to pickle
    Note: option to salting - "Brine Soak" for 2-3 hours...remove, rinse well in COLD water, drain briefly & proceed to pickle
    SALT BRINE: 1 volume quart salt per 1 gallon COLD water (3 gallon for avg. deer cape)

Pickle utilizing "Leather Tanning Concentrate": for average deer cape
(mix ingredients well before adding skin)

  • 5 gallons of water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
  • 5 lb. of salt (salinometer 40-45%)
  • 3 fl. oz. of LiquaSafe Acid (pH not to exceed mid-1-range)
  • 2 fl. oz of Degreaser
  • pickle for 3 days minimum and shave (shave neck thin for optimal stretch)
  • re-pickle minimum 24 hours (longer is better...2 days)
  • then add 5 fl. oz. of LTC to the pickle (after re-pickling only) & process 1 more day

Neutralize in the Pickle:
(or in a standard separate neutralization bath – see BRUSH ON TAN instructions)

  • remove skin from pickle (hold in separate pail)
  • add new 5 gallon lukewarm water to existing 5 gallon pickle (mix well)
  • add / mix enough baking soda to raise pH of pickle to 5.0- 5.5 (solution will foam when baking soda is added - mix well)
  • re-add skin & agitate periodically for 1 full hour
  • remove skin, rinse well & spin-out (needs to be damp, thirsty for oiling)
  • apply warmed BRUSH ON TANNING OIL (fold hair-side out & sweat @ room temp. overnight...ready to mount or bag & freeze)
    [discard pickle when finished, do not re-use]

Pre-Mount Wash: (wash briefly in the following solution)

  • 5 gallons lukewarm water + 1 cup of salt + 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW
  • rinse in clean, cool water & spin-out

PRO-MAXX "SINGLE SOLUTION TAN"

PRO-MAXX is a short-cut system for those that want complete schedules and simplicity.
It is most similar to our Brush On System.

Instructions for Average Deer Cape:
(appx. 8 lb. green skin...DO NOT RE-USE SOLUTION)

1. split & turn - remove meat, fat and score membrane (for optimal chemical penetration & hair-set)

2. rinse clean in COLD water & drain briefly

Note: a simple "1-2 hour BRINE SOAK" will produce whiter skins...
SALT BRINE: 1 volume quart salt per 1 gallon COLD water
(3 gallon for avg. deer cape...rinse & proceed to tan)

"Odorous and/or Blood-Soaked Skins" - wash in following bath:
(see additional instructions for deodorizing odorous skins in Guides page...
REHYDRATING/ DEODORIZING / PICKLING/ DEGREASING)

  • 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW / 5 gallon COLD water
  • rinse in COLD water / drain briefly

3. PRO-MAXX TAN SOLUTION FORMULA: 

  • 5 gallon clean, cool water
  • 5 lb. salt (mix well) = 56 volume oz. (1 level 32 oz. quart paint cup + 24 oz.)
  • 8 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN (mix well)

4. add skin to tan solution (skin-side out / down…hair-side in / up)

  • agitate well for 5 minutes, then every 30 minutes first 2 hours...then periodically for 3 days minimum
  • keep submerged first 2 overnights (float cape inside-out w/ shoulders spread out in a circle, hair-up like a floating umbrella)
    - skins can be left in the tan...agitate 1-2 times / week (put lid on if stored for extended time, so water doesn’t evaporate)
    - pre-soaking skin for 1 hour in a SALT BRINE will create a whiter skin...rinse well after brine soak, wring-out & proceed to tan
    - SALT BRINE: 1 quart volume salt per 1 gallon COLD water (3-4 gallon for avg. deer cape)

5. shave skin (degrease GREASY and/or ODOROUS skins after shaving - see DEGREASING FORMULA below)

6. return skin to tan solution for 24 hours minimum (2 days is better)

7. NEUTRALIZING MIX:

  • in a separate pail, mix 1 cup baking soda into 5 gallons cool water
  • remove skin from PRO-MAXX Tan Solution (hold in separate pail)
  • add this additional 5-gallon "NEUTRALIZING MIX" into the existing tanning solution (MIX WELL)
  • re-add skin & agitate periodically for 1 hour

8. remove skin & rinse well in cool water...spin-out / drain to thirsty (damp, but not wet)

9. apply warmed PRO-MAXX OIL (approximately. 8 fl. oz. for avg. deer cape)

  • apply oil to front / inner hair-side of ears w/ cartilage (oil does not penetrate cartilage well)
  • fold skin-to-skin / hair-out & sweat overnight at room temp.
    (ready to mount or bag & freeze...do not wash / rinse before freezing)

10. to mount, simply rinse well in lukewarm water & spin-out

CAUTION: hard well water can alter solution pH...check pH end of Day 1, 2, and 3...
make sure it is not higher than 1.5-1.6 (add 1 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN to lower...mix & check pH)

The base formula is good for an average deer, black bear, boar, or mule deer size cape...
use 1 1/2 times the amounts for x-large pedestal cape, x-large boar, etc. or appx. 12 lb. green skin...
see instructions below for miscellaneous and/or large, life-size skins.

Bobcats and Average Coyote Size Skins:
(bobcat, average coyote, raccoon, fox, beaver, otter, etc....for large coyote use deer tan formula)

  • 2 1/2 gallons water
  • 28 volume oz. salt (or 2 ½ lb.)
  • 4 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
  • Neutralizing mix: 2 1/2 gallons lukewarm water and 1/2 cup baking soda
    (neutralize 45 minutes)

Small Mammal Size Skins:
(squirrel, mink, weasel, etc.)

  • 1 gallon water
  • 12 volume oz. salt (or 1 lb.)
  • 2 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
  • Neutralizing Mix: 1 gallon lukewarm water + 3 tablespoons baking soda
    (neutralize 30 minutes)

Large / Life-Size Skins: USE THIS FORMULA W/ ANY SKIN FOR EXACT CALCULATION

  • 1/2 gallon water per lb. green skin
  • 1 lb. salt per gallon water
  • 2 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN per gallon water
  • Neutralizing Mix: 1 cup baking soda per 5 gallon water (match water volume of tan bath)
    (neutralize 1 hour)

For example (30 lb. large elk cape):
- 15 gallons water
- 15 lb. salt
- 30 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
- Neutralizing Mix: 15 gallons of water + 3 cups of baking soda (neutralize 1 hour)

Degrease GREASY skins after shaving (bear, raccoon, beaver, boar, coyote, bobcat, fox, otter, mink, etc.)
Degrease ODOROUS skins after shaving (goats, sheep, antelope, elk, skunk, etc.)

Degreasing Bath Formula for Greasy and/or Odorous Skins:

  • 5 gallons warm water (85-90 deg F)
  • 28 volume oz. salt (or 2 1/2 lb.)
  • 5 fl. oz. Degreaser
  • optional / recommended for odorous skins: 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon
    - agitate periodically 1 hour (light skins / fine furs: 30 min.)
    - remove, drain only, and re-add to tanning solution

Degreasing Bath for small skins such as mink: 1 gallon warm water + 1 cup salt + 1 fl. oz. Degreaser (degrease 30 min.)

SUBMERSIBLE - TANNERY QUALITY SCHEDULE...
Plus a "Short-Cut Version for Any Deer-Sized Cape"

If you want the highest quality of tan, the Submersible Tan is the one you're looking for...
this schedule produces a tannery quality tan...you just have to do a little math, but it's not difficult.
Skins are pickled first, then drained & weighed. From there they go into a separate "tanning solution".
Note: for any deer-sized cape, there is a short-cut version at the bottom of the page (super easy!!).

TANNERY QUALITY SUBMERSIBLE TAN: Static Version
Note: for "mechanical action tanning" you use the same formula, but the process times can be reduced...please call for instruction.
% are based on "weight of drained, shaved, pickled skin"
...
Example: 6 lb. cape x 16 = 96 oz. (always turn lb. into oz. by multiplying by 16 when tanning 1-2 skins)
- 4.5% Leather Tanning Concentrate: 96 oz. x .045 = 4.3 oz. LTC by weight for a 6 lb. cape...
- 1% Sodium Formate: 96 oz. x .01 = 0.96 oz. Sodium Formate by weight per feed for a 6 lb. cape...
- 1/3% Baking Soda: 96 oz. x .0033 = 0.3 oz. Baking Soda by weight per feed for a 6 lb. cape
- Note: 1 tbsp. Baking Soda = 0.5 oz....3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon...so 2 teaspoons is appx. 0.3 oz. (same for Sodium Formate)

  • drain skins out of pickle & weigh (turn weight into oz. by multiplying by 16...example above: 6 lb. x 16 = 96 oz.)
  • 1/2 gallon of water per lb. skin (i.e. 10 lb. skin = 5 gal. water)
  • add 1/2 lb. salt per gallon water
  • add drained pickled skins, agitate / soak 10 min.
  • add 1% Sodium Formate, agitate / soak 30 min. (Sodium Formate: buffers / locks pH of the solution for faster, deeper, more even tanning)
  • add Tan(s) - see options below, agitate well...process per schedules listed below
  • Note: regarding finishing oils....
    for wet tan "fatliquoring" - add 8% TanLiquor 1 hour after tanning agent or at mid-cycle, agitate well
    (pre-mix first with warm tap water - 3 parts water: 1 part oil by volume)...
    or simply swab the TanLiquor on after the overnight drain / "horse-up" for wet tans (vs. using as a fatliquor)
    (for dry tan finishing see instructions below...Leather Finishing Oil is recommended for dry tans & is good for wet or dry tan finishing)
  • after tanning cycle, to finish tan (start in morning)...
  • add 1% Sodium Formate & agitate / soak 1 hour before fixating the tan
  • fixate: add approximately 1% Baking Soda total - divided in 3 applications (1/3% or .0033 on calculator per feed)...
    agitate 1 hour between each application...check pH of solution after each hour...continue feeds until pH 4.0-4.5 stable end of hour
  • after stable pH 4.0-4.5, leave 3 hours
  • remove skin & drain / "horse-up" overnight
  • apply warmed finishing oil (if swabbing vs. fat liquoring)...some choose to rinse & drain prior to oiling
    (for fat liquored skins, simply rinse well in lukewarm water & drain for several hours...or tumble...ready to bag & freeze)

Fixation - the total amount of baking soda used may exceed 1% of skin weight...
it depends how much acid is left in the skin...simply repeat feed until pH 4.0-4.5 stable end of hour.
(Tip: 2 level teaspoons each feed per 5-6 lb. skin...or 1 level teaspoon per 3 lb. skin)

What does Sodium Formate do? (5 lb. will do 40-50 capes...or 250 lb. drained, shaved, pickled skin)
- 1% feed #1: it "locks the solution pH to appx. 3.5" = ideal solution pH for tanning = faster, deeper, more complete tanning...
the "3.0 pH Tans" run from the "higher pH 3.5 solution" & attracts to the "acidic core of the skin"...
- 1% feed #2 before fixation: it blocks the spike in pH caused by the addition of the baking soda = less shocking
(Tip: 2 level tablespoons each feed per 5-6 lb. skin...or 1 level tablespoon per 3 lb. skin...or 1 level teaspoon per 1 lb. skin)

TanLiquor is a non-greasy fatliquor...it can be used as a "fatliquor" or as a "swab on" for wet tans (it is not to be used as a dry tan finishing oil).
It is not recommended to fatliquor fine furs unless they are to be tumbled to clean.

Tan Options:
1. 4.5% Leather Tanning Concentrate (PRO-1 preferred - liquid synthetic tan)...Tip: 2 fl. oz. per every 3 lb. skin
2. 6% Lutan FN (1 oz. / lb. skin...must pre-mix in warm water as this is a powdered mineral tan)
3. 6% Lutan FN + 1/2-1% Leather Tanning Concentrate (add LTC 1 hour after Lutan FN)
4. 1% Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) + 3% Leather Tanning Concentrate (add LTC 1 hour after the Alum)
Note: decorative skins / flats, throws, etc. (not to be mounted) - use more LTC (15-20% or more) for added softness...
the LTC is fiber filling - it's like a mattress, the more you use the "fuller / more plush / softer the skin will be"
(use the recommended 4.5% LTC for skins to be mounted...they will lose stretch if you use the higher % recommended for decorative skins)

DRY TANS: LEATHER FINISHING OIL APPLIED BY SWABBING

  • swab 1 application warmed LEATHER FINISHING OIL after overnight drain / "horse-up"
    (some choose to rinse & drain after horse-up before oiling)
  • fold skin-to-skin & sweat for 18-24 hours @ room temp. (it takes a minimum of 18 hours for oil to penetrate the leather fiber...longer is better)...
    for additional softness - per preference or heavier skins: open after initial sweat & dry only until thirsty again - then swab 2nd application of oil
  • hang / dry to 90% and tumble soft (stretch during drying for easier breaking)


Breaking Skins: simple jig as shown above is a good way to "manually break" light to medium skins
for decorative purposes...work the skin-side back & forth over the steel edge until the skin softens.
(photo as illus.: COMPLETE HOME TAXIDERMY by Tim Kelly, 2nd edition)

Tanneries use large tumblers w/ a significant weight of grit...and run them for multiple hours until the skins are broke soft...
you can use a small tumbler for "cleaning the hair / fur only" (small tumblers will not break skins soft enough).

Note: when swabbing oil, it is applied after the "overnight drain / horse-up" while the skin is still damp, but thirsty
Optional: use fatliquor in tannage at 2% as a pre-fat for added softness, then swab Leather Finishing Oil.

Process Time: skins can be tanned in 24 hours...longer is better & provides flexibility of schedule.
The theory that skins will become over-tanned if left in solution too long is not accurate, provided the amount of tan is based on skin weight.

  • Light Skins / Fine Furs: 1 day (bobcat, coyote, etc.)
  • Medium Skins: 2 days (deer)
  • Heavy Skins: 3-4 days (bear, elk, moose)

"SHORT-CUT VERSION" SUBMERSIBLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR ANY DEER-SIZED CAPE: (use a round rope tote from feed stock store)
Note: the Sodium Formate use is not a necessity...it is a recommendation (5 lb. will do 40-50 capes).
- 3 gallon water
- add 2 volume cups salt (mix well)
- add drained pickled cape - agitate / soak for 10 minutes
- remove cape & add 2 level tablespoons Sodium Formate (mix well)
- re-add skin & soak for 30 minutes
- add 4 fl. oz. Leather Tanning Concentrate for avg. deer cape (small cape: 3 fl. oz....large cape: 5 fl. oz....pedestals or X-large cape: 6 fl. oz.)...agitate well
  (Note: 2 fl. oz. for every 3 lb. skin to be exact)
- tan 2 full days (agitate / re-position 3-4 times per day)
TO FINISH TAN:
- remove cape, add 2 more level tablespoons Sodium Formate (mix well)
- re-add cape & agitate / soak for 1 hour
- remove cape & add 2 teaspoons Baking Soda (mix well)
- re-add cape & agitate / soak for 1 hour...check pH of solution for target pH 4.5 (repeat this Baking Soda step until solution pH is 4.5 @ end of an hour)
- once solution pH is 4.5 at end of an hour, leave cape soaking for 3 hours
- remove cape, rinse briefly hair-side out in lukewarm water, spin-out
- apply warmed TanLiquor Oil (sweat overnight...ready to mount or bag & freeze)

Note: for any pickle or tanning solution for the in-house taxidermist - using a "single rope tote for a single cape solution" allows better free float...
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 compression in a trash can w/ multiple capes...imagine a trash can that was 8 ft. tall & held 200 gal. water -
all the capes would still be floating in the top 6-7 gallon (it doesn't matter how many gallons) - think about surface area & free float in solutions
(rubber water troughs permit capes to float "beside each other" and "not on top each other"...rope totes work best for single capes).

REHYDRATING / DEODORIZING / PICKLING / DEGREASING

Below are formulas for Rehydrating, Deodorizing, Pickling, Degreasing.
The basic steps in tanning are as follows:
1. Salt-Cure (wet-salted or dry-salted...permits storability / transportability)
2. Rehydrate (opens dehydrated / closed fiber for chemical process in solution...for salt-cured skins only)
3. Clean / Deodorize (this step does not degrease)
4. Pickle (removes non-tannables / acidifies / converts rawness)
5. Shave (thins to improve stretch & reduce shrinkage)
6. Degrease (removal of interfibrillar natural oils & odorous molecule residual from hair)
7. Re-pickle (ensures all rawness converted after hide reduction from shaving)
8. Tan (fiber filling of void created by removing non-tannables during pickling...prevents decay / controls shrinkage

Rehydrating "Dry-Salted" Skins: (skins that have been double-salted & completely dried out)
- per gallon COLD water
- 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (rehydrator / heavy duty cleaner w/ bacterial assist agent)
- soak overnight or until relaxed (start rehydration 3-4 pm & rehydrate overnight...keep submerged)...
skins should be rehydrated by next morning & ready for the pickle...this allows good Day 1 pickle agitation
- option / recommended: adjust pH of bath down to 5.0 (no lower or risk of swelling) - use dribble of acid or distilled white vinegar...
slightly acidic pH of 5.0 stalls bacterial reactivation plus assists the rehydration
- remove, drain & proceed to pickle

Note:
- rehydration baths DO NOT NEED SALT ADDITION (you're trying to introduce saltless water to a waterless skin...adding salt "slows down the exchange"
- COLD water & rehydrator is all you need...but changing to a new salt-free bath keeps rehydration going "full speed" if skin is not fully rehydrated next morning...
this is a consideration for hard-to- relax skins that may require more than overnight rehydration (such as African skins)...
plus a fresh clean water bath "reduces rate of bacterial re-activation" (bacterial risks gets greater as water temp. rises)

Rehydrating "Wet-Salted" Skins: (salted once & drained overnight only)
Note: wet-salted skins have "dehydrated fiber that is collapsed" and does need rehydration to "re-open the fiber for complete pickling".
- knock off salt & relax in plain, COLD water only...soak until neck relaxes (can pull for width & it stretches).
- rinse in cold water, drain briefly, and proceed to pickle.

Washing Bloodstained and/or Odorous Skins: (after rehydrating and before pickling)
Note: it is best to salt-dry these skins, as the surfactant Atesan LPW has more opportunity to work during rehydration & washing.

- per 5 gallon LUKEWARM water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
- 1 cup salt
- 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW
- optional for odorous skins: 5 fl. oz. Deodorizer Concentrate
- wash well for 15 minutes
- remove, rinse in cool water, drain briefly & proceed to pickle

RAW ODOROUS SKINS – if you don't have time to salt-dry them completely, at least salt overnight to dehydrate and then wash per the formula listed.
Dehydrating before washing permits warmer water wash without the risk of over-hydration. They will be ready for the pickle following the wash alone.

Lukewarm water helps in the heavy-duty stripping of sheep wool's waterproofing lanolin and odorous molecules caused by glandular secretions in goats / antelope, urine in elk, etc..
Washing in cold water does not work as well as warmer water for stripping odors (just like washing a dried spaghetti plate doesn't work as well in cold vs. warm water)

Pickling:
- per gallon water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
- 1 lb. salt / gallon (40-45% salinometer...too much salt dehydrates / "shuts down" fiber = won't pickle completely = leaves rawness in finished skin)
- 1/2 fl. oz. LiquaSafe Acid / gallon (avg. deer cape will use 3 fl. oz. total)
- 1/2 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon (greasy skins: 1 fl. oz. / gal.)...all skins contain natural oils that should be removed
- pickle 3 days minimum & shave
- degrease greasy and/or odorous skins after shaving
- re-pickle after shaving (return to original pickle minimum overnight...longer is better)

Note:
- agitate every 30 minutes first 2 hours, then every other hour Day 1, periodically Day 2 / 3 (pH will stabilize Day 3)
- keep submerged first 2 overnights (until pH stabilizes = skin is done wicking acid = pH doesn't rise)
- use enough water for loose folds / free-float - appx. 4-5 gallon for avg. deer cape
- check pH twice per day for first 3 days only, and morning after shaving (stir first, then check)
- pH not to exceed mid-1 range for extended time...it can be lower, just not higher
- skins can be stored in pickle (agitate 1-2 times per week...keep lid on if storing to keep water form evaporating)
- we do not recommend re-using pickles
- skins can be pickled raw (pre-salting is not a necessity)

Simple Deer Cape Pickle requiring NO PH CHECK:
(for those who want easy & don't want to check pH)
- 5 gallon water
- 5 lb. salt
- 5 fl. oz. LiquaSafe Acid
- optional: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser

Degreasing:
Degreasing in pickle is recommended...it is enough for non-greasy skins, but for greasy skins - a WARM WATER DEGREASING is required.
- non-greasy skins: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser / 5 gallon pickle
- greasy skins: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon pickle

GREASY SKINS - after shaving, perform the following "Primary Degreasing":
(also degrease ODOROUS SKINS such as goats, sheep, elk, etc.)

- per gallon warm water (85-90 deg F)
- 1/2 lb. salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
- optional / recommended for odorous skins: 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon
- agitate 1 hour (thin skins / fine furs: 30 min.)
- remove, drain only & return to pickle

Note:
- using a cooler w/ a lid will help maintain water temperature
- always return to pickle after degreasing, due the previous shaving has exposed fiber that may need more pickling time
- some add a little baking soda to the degreasing bath to "relax the pickled skin" (appx. 2 tbsp. / 5 gal.)

BIRD & FISH TAN

This is a soak solution process that provides actual "tanning of the skin".
For birds, it provides for toughening of fragile skins and controlled drying...and,
skins do not dry out as fast in the mounting process, as with borax preserved only skins.
Fish skins will dry with lighter more paintable tones.

Birds: 
1. skin & wire-wheel / flesh clean
2. wash / degrease & rinse in 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon lukewarm water
3. Vinegar Pickle (recommended - see below)
4. Tanning Solution (leave @ room temperature...SKIN INSIDE-OUT....mix all ingredients well)
- per gallon of water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 fl. oz. BFT
(agitate periodically - tan overnight up to 24 hours)
5. remove skin & drain (skin may be frozen at this time)
6. to mount, wash & rinse per preference – blow dry or tumble
(DO NOT SOAK IN SOLVENT FUEL...you can briefly rinse / dunk in fuel to displace water after washing / rinsing)

Vinegar Pickle: (gentle on small bones)
- 2 quarts water
- 2 quarts distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
(agitate periodically during day...soak overnight small birds / ducks...48 hours large birds / turkeys)
- drain & proceed to Tanning Solution
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Fish: (vinegar pickle is not used with fish)
1. skin / flesh clean
2. wash / degrease & rinse: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon of lukewarm water (cool water for loose-scaled fish)
3. Tanning Solution: (mix all ingredients well)
- per gallon water (good for as many skins as will stay submerged)
- 1 cup salt
- 1 fl. oz. BFT
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
4. soak 1 hour minimum @ room temperature - ready to mount
(or leave in solution - store in refrigerator)
5. remove, rinse well - ready to mount or bag & freeze

REPTILE TANNING

Tanning Instructions for: Alligators, Turtles, Lizards, Snakes...

See “VINEGAR PICKLE” instructions as listed....more gentle on "teeth" and "small bones".
Alligators: if not using real head with teeth, a vinegar pickle is not a necessity - simply pickle as normal.
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Vinegar Pickle Formula: (24 hours for thin skins...3-4 days for heavier skins)
- per 2 quarts water
- 2 quarts distilled white vinegar (Walmart)
- 1 lb. salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
(pickle 3 days, shave / fine flesh, return to pickle 1 more day minimum)

Note: degrease after shaving & before re-pickling...
Degreasing Bath Formula:
- per gallon lukewarm water (80-85 deg F)
- 1/2 lb. salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
(degrease 1 hour heavier skins...30 minutes thin skins)
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"Brush On Tanning": (for small non-scale snakes, lizards)

Neutralize in the following solution after pickling & before applying "Brush On Tanning Oil":
- per gallon cool water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
(soak 5 minutes...remove, rinse, dry w/ paper towel - apply BRUSH ON TAN - leave 1 hour @ room temp.)

Note: for scale-on snakes (DO NOT PRE-PICKLE due to risk of scale loss)
- skin & flesh clean only
- brush on Degreaser to the flesh-side full strength
- wipe off, then brush on "Bird & Fish Tan Concentrate" (let set for 5 minutes)
- wipe off & mount (do not pickle & brush on tan per above)
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Submersible Tanning: (for alligators & large reptiles)
- drain skins from pickle & go straight to Tan Solution...DO NOT PRE-NEUTRALIZE

Note: this is a simplified but effective formula for "wet tans to be mounted"...
using the skin weight formula as detailed on Guides page
"SUBMERSIBLE - TANNERY QUALITY SCHEDULE" is more exact.

Volume Submersible Tan Bath Formula for Alligators:
- per 5 gallon lukewarm water (1 gallon per every 2 lb. pickled skin)
- 2 1/2 lb. salt (1/2 lb. per gallon)
- 8 fl. oz. Leather Tanning Concentrate (2 fl. oz. / 3 lb. skin)
(tan 24-48 hours...agitate periodically)
- remove skin, mix 1/2 cup baking soda into tan bath (mix well)
- re-add skin & agitate periodically 1 hour
- remove, rinse, drain & apply warmed TanLiquor Oil (brush / swab on)
- fold skin-to-skin...cover w/ plastic & sweat overnight @ room temp.
(to mount, simply rinse)

Optional: fatliquor vs. swabbing
- 1 hour after adding skin to tan solution, add TanLiquor to tan solution...
(2 fl. oz. TanLiquor / gallon tan solution...dilute first by mixing 3 parts warm water into 1 part oil)

Note: for "decorative / flat skin alligator displays" (body skin only / no head attached)
double the amount of Leather Tanning Concentrate in the above formula...
use Leather Finishing Oil (vs. TanLiquor) for the finishing oil...
sweat in first coat of oil overnight, then apply 2nd coat the next day...
immediately "tack out to dry flesh-side up"
(the hide will dry stiff, but will be functional as a decorative display)

Contact us to learn more about our products & processes. We can help you determine which system is best for you.