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, see short-cut version…super easy, no weighing!)


How Tanneries Do It…

“SKIN WEIGHT FORMULA”: % are based on weight of drained, shaved, pickled skin…
Example: 6 lb. cape x 16 = 96 oz. (turn lb. into oz. by multiplying by 16 when tanning 1-2 skins)

  • 4.5% LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE (as tan option): 96 oz. x .045 = 4.3 oz. LTC by weight
  • Fixation – 1% Baking Soda Total: 96 oz. x .01 = 0.96 oz. or 1 oz. Total Baking Soda by weight

(See “WATER VOLUME” version below)

  • drain skins out of pickle & weigh (drain 1 hour…do not rinse…drain only)
    (turn weight into oz. by multiplying by 16…example above: 6 lb. x 16 = 96 oz.)
  • 1/2 gallon of water per lb. skin (6 lb. cape = 3 gal. water)
  • add 1/2 lb. salt per gallon water (3 gal. water = 1 1/2 lb. salt)
  • add drained pickled skins, agitate / soak 10 minutes
  • add Tan(s) – see options below, agitate well (process per schedules listed below)
  • after tanning cycle, to finish / fixate tan (start in morning) …
  • fixate tan: 1.5% Baking Soda TOTAL (6 lb. cape = 96 oz. x .015 = 1.44 or 1.5 oz. rounded up)
    • add 1/3 baking soda to tan (mix well) …agitate periodically
    • (Note: 1 tablespoon baking soda weighs 1/2 oz….1 tablespoon per 1/3 feed for 6 lb. cape)
    • soak 1 hour between each application / “feed” of baking soda
    • check pH of solution after each hour
    • continue feeds of baking soda until pH 4.0-4.5 stable end of hour
  • after stable pH 4.0-4.5, leave until end of day (3 hours minimum)
  • remove skin & drain overnight / “horse-up” (see photo at bottom of page)
    Note: drain capes hair-side out (you want them to drain but not dry out)
  • next morning, apply warmed Leather Finishing Oil
    • fold skin-to-skin and sweat at room temperature



  • furs (overnight to 1 day)
  • whitetails / medium skins (1 day minimum / 2 days optimal)
  • heavier / thick hides – bear, cattle, elk, moose (2 days minimum / 3 days optimal)


Fixation – the total amount of baking soda used may exceed 1.5% of skin weight (or be less: appx. 1%)…
it depends on skin thickness, etc. as to how much acid from the pickle is in the skin…
simply repeat feed until pH 4.0-4.5 stable end of hour

When using 1.5% baking soda total, each 1/3 feed will be: .005 on calculator x skin weight in oz.
Tip: 1 tablespoon each feed per 6 lb. skin (2 teaspoons @ 1% baking soda total, etc.)

Heavier skins may require 2% (the goal is 3 feeds minimum, but not require 6-7 feeds) …
2% baking soda total, each 1/3 feed would then be: .0066 on calculator x skin weight in oz. …
1% baking soda total, each 1/3 feed would then be: .0033 on calulator x skin weight in oz.


Tan Options: (for skins to be mounted – see below for “Decorative Skins”)

  1. 4.5% LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE (liquid synthetic tan) Tip: 2 fl. oz. per every 3 lb. skin
  2. 6% RB Tan FN or 1 oz. / lb. skin (pre-mix in warm water as this is a powdered mineral tan)
  3. 6% RB TAN FN + 1% LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE (add LTC 1 hour after RB TAN FN) …

– this option is used by most of our tannery customers

RB TAN FN: 5 lb bag tans 10-12 average deer capes
LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE: 1 gallon tans 20+ average deer capes (as Option 1 sole tanning agent)

Decorative Skins / Flats, Wall Hangers, etc. (not to be mounted):
use more Leather Tanning Concentrate for added softness

  • 15-20% (3-4 times amount used for mounting) …
  • the LTC is fiber filling – it’s like putting air into an air mattress…
  • the more you use the “fuller / more plush / softer the decorative skin will be”
  • Tip: 3 fl. oz. per every 1 lb. skin
  • Note: use only 4.5% LTC for skins to be mounted (they will lose stretch if you use too much)


Process Time (time in tan solution):
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 days (bear, elk, moose)


Fat Liquoring (vs. Swabbing Oil):
oil is applied “in the tan solution” vs. swabbed on (best results when
used w/ mechanical action drum) …
for wet tan “fat liquoring” – add 6-8% TANLIQUOR at mid-cycle, agitate well…
(pre-mix first with warm tap water…3 parts water: 1 part oil by volume…”mix water slowly into oil”) …

Option: simply swab the TANLIQUOR on after the overnight drain for wet tans (vs. using as a fat liquor)
Note: LEATHER FINISHING OIL should be used for dry tans & is good for both wet or dry tan finishing.
TANLIQUOR is a non-greasy fat liquor…it can be used as a “fat liquor” or as a “swab on” for wet tans…
TANLIQUOR is not to be used as a dry tan finishing oil…

Note: it is not recommended to fat liquor fine furs unless they are to be tumbled to clean
Note: when swabbing oil, it is applied after the overnight drain while the skin is still damp but thirsty
Optional: can use fat liquor in tannage at 2% as a pre-fat for added softness when swabbing oils.

“WATER VOLUME from SKIN WEIGHT” Submersible Tan Formula:
Note: this is an easier version of the “TANNERY SKIN WEIGHT FORMULA” detailed above
Weigh drained pickled skin (drain 1-2 hours) …

this is the foundation number the water volume is based onget the weight and the rest is easy!

Tan Solution:

  • 1/2 gallon water per lb skin (1 gallon per 2 lb skin)
  • 1/2 lb salt per gallon water (mix well)
  • add skin(s), wet out 10 minutes
  • add tan (see options below)
  • tan 1 day minimum (agitate periodically…submerge floating skins overnight / furs sink)
  • fixate tan (1 teaspoon baking soda per gallon solution / 1 hour soak / do 3 times)
  • leave soaking in tan until end of day
  • drain overnight (skin-to-skin / hair-side out)
  • oil next morning (swab on warmed finishing oil…sweat at room temperature for 24-48 hours)

Tan Options:

  1. LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE (liquid synthetic tanning agent)
    • 1.5 fluid ounces per gallon
  2. RB TAN FN (powdered mineral tanning agent)
    • 2 ounces by weight per gallon
    • 2 ounces by weight RB TAN FN per gallon
    • 1 tablespoon LTC per gallon





  • swab warmed LEATHER FINISHING OIL after overnight drain / “horse-up”
  • fold skin-to-skin & sweat overnight @ room temperature
    (minimum of 18 hours for oil to penetrate the leather fiber…2 full days is optimal)
    Heavier skins: apply a 2nd coat of oil prior to hanging to dry
  • 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…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 (6′ minimum) w/ a significant weight of grit…
and run several hours to break skins soft…
you can use a small tumbler for “cleaning the hair / fur only”
(small tumblers will not break skins soft enough)



  • 3 gallon water
  • add 2 volume cups salt (mix well)
  • add drained pickled cape – agitate / soak for 10 minutes
  • add 4 fl. oz. LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE for avg. deer cape…agitate well
  • (LTC for pedestals or X-large cape: 6 fl. oz….2 fl. oz. per 3 lb. skin to be exact)
  • tan 1 day minimum (agitate periodically…submerge overnight)



  • remove cape & add 1 tablespoon measures Baking Soda (mix well)
  • (for small capes: 18×20 and less – use 2 teaspoons)
  • re-add cape & soak for 1 hour (do this 2 more times…3 times total)
  • then leave cape soaking 3 hours
  • remove cape, rinse briefly hair-side out in lukewarm water, spin-out
  • apply warmed finishing oil (sweat overnight…ready to mount)

Note: for any pickle or tanning solution using a “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”
w/ 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 – skin sucks to skin and slows down absorption …
imagine a trash can that was 8 ft. tall & held 100 gal. water – all the capes would still
be floating in the top 10 gallons…think about surface area & free float in solutions.
Rubber water troughs permit multiple capes to float “beside each other” and
“not on top each other”…rope totes work best for single capes.

Cape “horsed-up” (overnight drain) …multiple capes horsed-up.
Turn capes “hair-side out” as pictured – so they don’t dry out while draining.
Flat skins drain hair-side up, or fold skin-to-skin to drain.
The end result is a thirsty, but damp skin ready for oiling the next morning.


Wet Drum Tanning Schedule for Wet Tans:

  • drain skins out of pickle & weigh
  • 1/2 gallon water / lb. skin
  • add 1/2 lb. salt / gallon
  • add skins, run 5 minutes
  • add Tan(s), run 4 hours minimum for Syntans
  • run all day & rest overnight for Mineral Tans
  • for wet tan fat liquoring: add 6-8% TANLIQUOR – run 1 hour at end of cycle
  • Fixate (run 15 minutes per baking soda feed)
  • final pH 4.0-4.5 (NOT TO EXCEED 4.5)
  • leave 3 hours minimum or to end of day (machine at rest)
  • horse-Up / drain overnight
  • oil next morning w/ warmed LEATHER FINISHING OIL (if swabbing versus fat liquoring)



  • apply warmed coat LEATHER FINISHING OIL to drained tanned skin
  • fold skin-to-skin and sweat minimum overnight at room temperature (2 days is optimal)
  • hang skin-exposed to dry
  • Note: thicker hides: apply a 2nd coat of oil before hanging to dry
  • stretch during drying (makes skin break easier)
  • break at 85-90% dry as skin stiffens (over a blunt edge, etc.)
  • tumble to clean hair


Note: if you don’t have a tumbler…

  • dry partially until skin starts to stiffen, then give a brief wash / rinse…
    spin-out and re-hang to finish drying (stretch and break per above instructions)


Wash Formula:

  • per 5 gallon lukewarm water
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
  • wash briefly…rinse in cool water