TANNING INSTRUCTIONS FOR REPTILES: Alligators, Turtles, Lizards, Snakes

Alligators / Large Reptiles:
  • flesh salt heavily for 24 hours…
  • knock salt off re-salt heavily for 24 additional hours
  • rehydrate in plain COLD water until fully relaxed
  • proceed to pickle
Small Scaleless Snakes / Lizards, etc.:
  • flesh & salt overnight
  • rehydrate in plain cold water & proceed to pickle
Citric Acid Pickle Formula:
  • per gallon water
  • 1 lb. salt
  • 3 oz. CITRIC ACID (maintain pH 1.8-2.0 w/ Citric Acid pickle)
  • 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
  • pickle 1-3 days (thicker skins: 3 days…thin / small skins: overnight)
  • (Note: 4-5 days pickling may be needed for larger alligators)
  • fine flesh / shave
  • degrease (see below)
  • proceed to tan
Degreasing Bath Formula:
  • per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
  • soak 30 minutes to 1 hour for thicker skins
Brush On Tanning Option: (for small reptiles, scaleless snakes, lizards, etc.)

Neutralize pickled skin before applying BRUSH ON TANNING OIL:

  • per gallon cool water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • soak 10-15 minutes…remove, rinse, press dry w/ paper towel
  • apply BRUSH ON TANNING OIL (fold skin-to-skin)
  • leave at room temp. to end of day…bag & refrigerate
  • wipe off excess oil prior to mounting
Submersible Tan Option: (for small reptiles, scaleless snakes, lizards, etc.)

Note: see Submersible Tan for Alligators / Large Reptiles below

  • per quart cool water
  • 2 oz. salt by weight
  • 1 tablespoon measure LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE
  • remove from pickle, add to tan solution (soak overnight)
  • to finish, add 2 teaspoon measures baking soda to tan solution (soak 15 minutes)
  • remove, rinse…press dry w/ paper towel & apply LEATHER FINISHING OIL
  • fold skin-to-skin & leave at room temp. to end of day…bag & refrigerate
  • wipe off excess oil prior to mounting

Rattlesnake / Copperhead Tanning
  • skin & flesh clean…
  • 1 gallon cool water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
  • add skin to solution & soak 1 hour minimum
  • remove, rinse & press-dry w/ paper towel
  • oil w/ BRUSH-ON TANNING OIL (fold skin-to-skin…leave @ room temp. to end of day)
  • ready to mount or bag & refrigerate (wipe off excess oil prior to mounting)
Decorative Skins:

tack out first, then apply oil…let skin dry

Submersible Tanning: (for alligators & large reptiles)
  • drain skins briefly from pickle, weigh & go straight to Tan Solution
  • round weight up or down to get 5 lb increments (i.e. 18 to 20, etc.)
Volume Submersible Tan Bath Formula for Alligators:

Note: this formula is good for appx. 10 lbs. drained, pickled skin…
simply double the amounts for 20 lbs., and so on…

  • per 5 gallon water
  • 2 1/2 lb. salt
  • 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 LEATHER FINISHING OIL…or
  • (Note: it is alright to use the BRUSH ON TANNING OIL as well for oiling)
  • fold skin-to-skin…cover w/ plastic & sweat overnight @ room temp.
  • to mount, simply rinse briefly in lukewarm water & drain
Note: for “decorative / flat skin alligator displays”

(body skin only / no head attached)
double the amount of Leather Tanning Concentrate in the above formula…

  • sweat in first coat of finishing oil overnight
  • then tack out skin
  • apply another coat of warmed finishing oil…let dry
  • the hide will dry stiff, but will be functional as a decorative display
  • once dry, you can wipe clean any excess oil with a sponge and warm water