Below are formulas for Rehydrating, Deodorizing, Pickling, Degreasing.

 

The basic steps in tanning are as follows:

  1. Salt-Cure (first step in removable of non-tannables / globular proteins…see “Effects of Salting” page)
  2. Rehydrate (opens dehydrated fiber for chemical process in solution…flushes globular proteins)
  3. Clean / Deodorize (blood-soaked and/or odorous skins…after rehydrating / before pickling)
  4. Pickle (converts rawness / acidifies – adjusts skins pH to accept tans)
  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…prevents decay / controls shrinkage)

 

Rehydrating “Salt-Dried” Skins: (skins that have been double-salted / hung & completely dried out)

  • per gallon COLD water
  • 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser) …2 fl. oz per 5 gallon is good
  • start rehydration for medium thick skins mid-afternoon (rehydrate overnight …keep submerged)
  • skins should be rehydrated by next morning & ready for the pickle
  • Note: start thinner skins as late as possible in the day as they won’t take as long
  • fur bearers may need just a few hours vs. overnight -start them early in morning
  • medium hides such as deer may take up to 24 hours…
  • African / thick skins may need 2 full days… (see below)
  • BOTTOM LINE: rehydrate them until they are completely pliable / relaxed…
  • 16-24 hours for most common skins

 

If not fully rehydrated after overnight rehydration:
Changing to a new fresh rehydration bath keeps rehydration going “full speed” if skin is
significantly shy of fully rehydrated next morning…this is a consideration for hard-to-relax
skins that may require more than a single overnight rehydration (such as African skins) …
plus a new soak “reduces rate of bacterial re-activation”
(bacterial risk increases as water temperature warms up above 60 deg F)

 

ADDIDITONAL REHYDRATION TIPS…
Reduced-Salt Pickle to Finish Rehydration of Salt-Dried Skins:

For close, but not fully relaxed after the rehydration soak – just a little stringent still…

  • build pickle to start with only 1/2 lb. salt per gallon (20% on salinometer)
  • add rehydrated skins and pickle 6-8 hours
  • by end of day, measure salt level of pickle with salinometer & add enough salt to adjust up to 40%

NOTE: YOU MAY NOT GET A SKIN COMPLETELY SOFT IN INITIAL REHYDRATION SOAKS…
GET THEM LOOSENED UP & IN THE PICKLE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, KNOWING YOU CAN
DO ADDITIONAL HYDRATION SOAKS DURING THE PICKLING PROCESS…

 

Intermediate Hydration Soak Before Shaving:

For pickled skins that are stubborn to shave due lack of complete rehydration
or “Grease and/or Freezer-Burned” skins, etc:

  • drain from pickle
  • per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
  • 1/4 lb. salt
  • 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda (mix well)
  • add drained, pickled skin and soak until relaxed & shaveable (can be up to several hours)
  • remove, drain briefly, and shave (then return to pickle)

Note: this soak can be done again on following days if needed (always return to pickle in between)
Tip: you can paint relaxer on full strength over stubborn spots / areas &
use a serrated edge to “rake / soften” after draining from soak

 

Rehydrating “Wet-Salted” Skins: (salted & drained / not hung & dried / in a damp state)
Note: SALTING & GOING STRAIGHT TO THE PICKLE is the biggest mistake in tanning

  • wet-salted skins have “dehydrated fiber” and do need rehydrated / opened up before pickling
  • knock off salt & relax in plain, COLD water only until fully relaxed (30 minutes to 1 hour)
  • Optional: add 1 fl. oz. Atesan LPW per 5 gallon as a soap agent for cleaning
  • if salting 48 hours, it may require up to 2 hours to relax completely
  • rinse in cold water, drain briefly, and proceed to pickle

Note: the most common mistake in tanning is knocking salt off wet-salted skins and
putting them straight into the pickle without rehydrating them (or rinsing at best)

 

Rehydrating “Air-Dried” Furs: (not “salt-dried”)

  • per gallon COLD water
  • 1/4 lb. salt (helps to solubilize the glued / cemented proteins)
  • 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
  • mix and adjust pH down to 4.5-5.0 (no lower than 4.5…use dribbles of acid)
  • rehydrate fully & proceed to pickle

 

Hard-to-Relax Salt-Dried Skins: “WEAK PICKLE” REHYDRATION FORMULA
(African Skins / Thick Hides, etc.)
Note: we use a minimal amount of salt in this formula because
we are using acid to assist in rehydration. The acid not only helps pull water in but the lower pH slows bacterial reactivation.

  • per 5 gallon COLD water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
  • adjust pH down to 4.5-5.0 (no lower than 4.5…use dribbles of acid)
  • soak until relaxed (proceed to pickle)

 

Raw / Green Freezer-Burned Skins: using “WEAK PICKLE FORMULA” to soften
FYI: this formula can also be used for any raw skin that is hard to
rough flesh / split & turn…including mammal / fish / bird.

Note: I would recommend a “BRINE-CURE” afterwards for salting prior to pickling
(1 quart salt / gallon COLD water…soak overnight…relax in cold water & proceed to pickle)

 

Washing Odorous and/or Blood-Stained Skins:
(after rehydration of salt-dried skins and before pickling)

  • per 5 gallon WARM water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
  • optional for odorous skins: 1/2 cup Deodorizer Concentrate
  • wash well for 15 minutes
  • rinse & proceed to pickle

 

Short-Cut for Deodorizing Odorous Skins

  • split & turn / salt heavily overnight minimum (2 days recommended)
  • knock salt off
  • wash in Deodorizing Wash Formula above until fully relaxed
  • rinse & proceed to pickle

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.

 

Pickling: (adjusts pH of skin to accept tan)

  • per gallon cool water
  • 1 lb. salt (40-43% salinometer)
  • 1/2 fl. oz. LiquaSafe Acid
  • 1/2 fl. oz. Degreaser (greasy skins: 1 fl. oz. / gallon)
  • 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 frequently first 2 hours, then periodically for 3 days minimum
  • keep submerged overnights (float skin-down / hair-up)
  • use enough water for loose folds / free-float (4-5 gallon for avg. deer cape)
  • check pH twice per day for first 3 days, and morning after shaving
  • 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)
  • if storing keep lid on so water doesn’t evaporate
  • we do not recommend re-using pickles beyond twice
  • TO DISCARD PICKLE SOLUTION: ADD/MIX BAKING SODA UNTIL PH 7.0

 

CITRIC ACID PICKLE :

  • 3 oz. Citric Acid by weight per gallon water
  • 1 lb. salt per gallon water
  • maintain pH of 1.8-2.0 (it won’t go lower)
  • LiquaSafe Acid pickle needs to be mid-1 range (add acid if pH gets close to 2.0)

 

Degreasing: Degreaser use in pickle is recommended but optional for all skins…

  • non-greasy skins: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser / 5 gallon pickle
  • greasy skins: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon pickle
  • degreaser in the pickle is optional and adds supplemental degreasing, but…

 

For “GREASY AND/OR ODOROOUS SKINS” – a separate WARM WATER DEGREASING is required…
GREASY SKINS: after shaving, perform a warm water “Primary Degreasing”…

  • bear, boar, raccoon, beaver, bobcats, coyotes, etc.
  • also degrease ODOROUS SKINS such as goats, sheep, elk, etc.

 

Degreasing Formula for Greasy and/or Odorous Skins:

  • per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
  • 1/4 lb. salt (2 cups per 5 gallon)
  • 1 fl. oz. Degreaser (1/2 cup per 5 gal. is good)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda (helps relax acidic skin for better penetration)
  • Odorous skins: 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer (1/2 cup per 5 gal. is good)
  • agitate 1 hour (thin skins / fine furs: 30 min.)
  • remove, drain only & return to pickle
  • using a cooler w/ a lid will help maintain water temperature
  • NOTE: 1/2 lb. salt + 1 fl. oz. Degreaser per gallon is good enough for degreasing…
  • (1/4 lb. salt + 1 tbsp. baking soda / gallon as listed relaxes the skin for better degreaser penetration)

Note: very greasy skins such as brown bear, or “grease-burned skins” can be degreased
up to 4 hours in a degreasing soak…and/or they can be degreased more than once
(on consecutive days / not on same day…just return to pickle overnight after degreasing)
Optional: you can use a “cold-water” degreasing soak and soak overnight for
problematic skins…this will not only degrease, but will help relax stubborn areas
(make sure the skin is well pickled prior to and always return to pickle after degreasing)
Note: Tanneries generally do not use degreaser in the pickle, so they can re-use pickles…
they do a warm water degreasing only.
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COMMERCIAL TANNERY “DRY-TANS” REHYDRATION FORMULA:

  • per 5 gallon LUKEWARM water
  • 2 cups salt (1/4 lb / gallon)
  • put head / hooves / paws / etc. in first
  • add body skin after head, etc. 50% rehydrated
  • (Note: for rugs, option to swab the solution on body skin until water puddles)
  • soak 75-80% rehydrated
  • remove / drain briefly (until water stops running…but leave wet)
  • roll / fold up hair-side out
  • bag & sweat overnight at room temperature
  • if next morning skin is still not quite ready to prep (ear cartilage, etc.)…
  • place bagged skin in refrigerator & leave sweat until it is