Step-by-Step instructions

Please click on the below guides for direction.

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)


"2019 BEST IN WORLD WHITETAIL" by Clint Rickey

PRO-1 ADVANCED FORMULA PROFESSIONAL TANNING OIL...
"BRUSH ON TANNING AGENT"
Tanning Oil Brush On
The "BRUSH ON TANNING" process is the most common of easy-to-use tans.
Basic steps: salt, rehydrate, pickle, neutralize, brush on tanning oil agent.

1. Split & turn: remove meat, fat, and score membrane

  • 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 (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 & 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)
- submerge mid-afternoon & rehydrate overnight
- 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 (5 gallon per avg. whitetail cape)
  • 1 lb. of salt / gallon (salinometer 40-43%)
  • ½ fl. oz LiquaSafe Acid / gallon (pH not above 1.5)
  • ½ fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon (greasy skins: 1 fl. oz / gallon)- agitate every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours, then every other hour (4x per day after Day 1)
    - pH will stabilize appx. Day 3 for deer capes
    - agitate 1x per day after pH stabilizes if holding skins in pickle
    - keep submerged overnight
    - the pH should not exceed mid-1 range (lower is fine - just not higher for extended time)
    - check pH of pickle 2 times per day for the first 3 days (pH papers PHP12 / stir before checking)
    - 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.

    DEGREASING BATH FORMULA FOR GREASY AND/OR ODOROUS SKINS:
    - per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
    - 1/2 lb. salt / gallon
    - 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon
    - 1 tablespoon baking soda / gallon (helps to relax acidic skin for better penetration)
    - ODOROUS skins: add 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon
    - add skin & soak / agitate periodically for 1 hour (thin skins / fine furs: 30 minutes) …
    - drain only after degreasing & return to pickle
    - using a "cooler w/ a lid" will help maintain water temperatureNote: extremely greasy skins such as brown bear can be degreased 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 LUKEWARM 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 minutes (whitetails / medium thickness skins)
    Note: thin skins / fine furs 15 minutes...heavier hides 45 minutes

6. Rinse in lukewarm 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 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 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 in washing machine
    (or wring out & towel-wick well)
  • 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)

    FOR DECORATIVE SKINS TO BE FINISHED AS SOFT-TANS:
    (optional to use PRO-1 HEAVY DUTY BRUSH ON)

    - sweat first coat of oil in overnight - next morning apply a 2nd warmed coat of oil
    - a single coat of oil is enough for thin furs / 2 coats for medium to heavy skins

    - hang skin-exposed 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)

ADVANCED FORMULA PROFESSIONAL "BRUSH ON" TANNING OIL
"Amazing Stretch ...Deer guaranteed to fit a full-size larger form!"

COMPETITION WHITETAIL TANNING
(using "LTC SYNTAN" w/ "BRUSH ON TAN")

PRO-MAXX "ALL-IN-ONE / Single Solution” TAN...EASIEST SYSTEM EVER!
(includes instructions for Auto Tanners)


Mount by Nathan Wilson of "Wilson's Wildlife Artistry" of Crossville, TN.
Nathan uses our PRO-MAXX TANNING SYSTEM for all in shop tanning.
Wilson's Wildlife Artistry is one of the largest studios in Tennessee.

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

Instructions for Average Deer Cape:
(DO NOT RE-USE SOLUTION)
The base formula is good for average deer, black bear, boar, or mule deer size cape.
NOTE: use 1 1/2 times the amounts for x-large capes, pedestal capes, etc.…
see instructions below for "Miscellaneous, Large or Life-Size Skins".

1. split & turn - remove meat, fat and score membrane

2. rinse clean in COLD water & drain briefly

Optional / Recommended: a simple "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 well / relax in COLD water & proceed to tan)
Note: the BRINE SOAK is simply a short-cut for salting...
you can salt overnight, and rehydrate in cold water the next morning...
if skins are "salt-dried", rehydrate overnight, then proceed to tan (see Rehydration Instructions) ...
or you can skip salt introduction altogether, and proceed with the raw skin straight to the tan

"Odorous and/or Blood-Soaked Skins" - salt heavily overnight...
next morning knock salt off & wash in following bath until relaxed (appx. 10-15 min.):

  • 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser) + 1 cup salt per 5 gallon WARM water (80 deg F)
    (1 fl. oz. Deodorizer / gallon is recommended for odorous skins)
  • rinse in COLD water / drain briefly...proceed to tanning solution

3. PRO-MAXX TAN SOLUTION FORMULA: 

  • 5 gallon clean, cool water
  • 5 lb. salt (mix well) ...56 volume oz.
    (Lowe's paint cup quart: 32 volume oz. + 24 volume oz.)
  • 8 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN (mix well)
    (recommended for greasy skins: 5 fl. oz. Degreaser)

4. add skin to tan solution (skin-side out / down…hair-side in / up)
NOTE: use 2 rope tote system for free-float / submersion without compression...
(for floating whitetails...fur bearers sink & do not float)
add couple gallons water in second tote for equal weight distribution overnight

  • agitate well for 5 minutes, then every 30 minutes first 2 hours...
    then periodically for 3 days minimum
  • keep submerged overnight
    (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)

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 the 5-gallon "NEUTRALIZING MIX" into the EXISTING tanning solution (MIX WELL)
    Note: add half the neutralizing mix and mix well, then add rest (it will foam hard)
  • re-add skin & agitate periodically for 1 hour

    Neutralizing Option #2: neutralize in a "separate" solution (just like for BRUSH ON TANNING) ...
    this is used when you want to tan "multiple" capes together in a larger PRO-MAXX Tan Solution
    Example: you can use a 20-gal. tan for 4 capes, and not end up with a 40-gallon neutralizing mix...
    neutralize them one at a time while leaving remaining capes in the PRO-MAXX Tan Solution
  • drain skin from PRO-MAXX Tan Solution
  • per 5 gallons of water
  • 2 volume cups of salt
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda - MIX WELL before adding skin
  • add skin & agitate frequently for 30 minutes
    (thin skins / fine furs: 2 gal. water + 1 lb. salt + 4 tbsp. baking soda...agitate 15 min.)

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

9. apply warmed PRO-MAXX OIL (appx. 8 fl. oz. for avg. deer cape)
Note: how to oil a tube incision cape (use same method for salting)

  • 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. Wash Formula for Optimal Cleanliness:
- 5 gallon lukewarm water
- 2 cups salt
- 1 fl. oz. Atesan LPW or Degreaser

CAUTION: hard well water can alter solution pH...check pH end of Day 1, 2, 3...
make sure pH is lower than 2.0 (add 1 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN to lower)
NOTE: we do recommend checking pH first couple times you use the PRO-MAXX system
just to validate there are no variables in your water system, etc. that could raise the pH...
it is rare that the pH needs lowered, but skin weight variables make it better to be than
sorry - we recommend at least one pH check end of Day 2)

The base formula is good for an average deer, black bear, boar, or mule deer size cape...
use 1 1/2 times 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.
(if in doubt about skin-size & what formula to use, use the Miscellaneous Formula)


Bobcat by Abel Everage using PRO-MAXX TANNING SYSTEM...

Bobcats and Average Coyote Size Skins:
(bobcat, average coyote, raccoon, fox, beaver, otter, etc....for large coyote use deer tan formula)
Note: for fur bearers, you can shorten the time in tan to 2 days before shaving and degreasing...
always return to tan after shaving and degreasing for at least overnight

  • 2 1/2 gallons water
  • 28 volume oz. salt (or 2 ½ lb.)
  • 4 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
    (recommended: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser)
  • Neutralizing Mix "in the tan": add 2 1/2 gallons water and 1/2 cup baking soda
    (neutralize 30 minutes...15 minutes for fox)

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

  • 1 gallon water
  • 12 volume oz. salt (or 1 lb.)
  • 2 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
    (recommended: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser)
  • Neutralizing Mix "in the tan": add 1 gallon water + 3 tablespoons baking soda
    (neutralize 15 minutes)

Miscellaneous, Large or 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
    (recommended: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser per gallon)
  • Neutralizing Mix (add to tan):
    1 cup baking soda per 5 gallon water (match water volume of tan solution)
    (neutralize 1 hour)

For example (20 lb. skin):
- 10 gallons water
- 10 lb. salt
- 20 fl. oz. PRO-MAXX TAN
- 10 fl. oz. Degreaser
- Neutralizing Mix: add 10 gallons of water + 2 cups of baking soda

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 (80-85 deg F)
  • 2 1/2 lb. salt (28 volume oz. in Lowe's paint cup quart)
  • 5 fl. oz. Degreaser
  • 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 (80 deg F) / 1 cup salt / 1 fl. oz. Degreaser (degrease 30 minutes)

FOR DECORATIVE SKINS TO BE FINISHED AS SOFT-TANS: (not to be mounted)
Note: tan deer flats and/or larger skins using the "Miscellaneous Skin Formula"

- sweat first coat of PRO-MAXX Oil in overnight - next morning apply a 2nd warmed coat of oil
- hang skin-exposed to dry...stretch during drying and break at 85-90% dry until soft
  (see dry-tan finishing instructions on SUBMERSIBLE - TANNERY QUALITY SYSTEM page)


INSTRUCTIONS FOR AUTO TANNERS: Tanners that run 1-2 rpm are ideal
(we recommend the "brine soak" for 2 hours first, rinse and proceed)
For the average deer cape:
- do gentle on/off cycles first 2 hours (run 5 minutes, off 15 minutes, etc.)
- run tanner all day...leave skin soaking overnight shoulders up / skin-down (tanner off)
- Note: if tanning longer, run the machine 5 minutes 2-3 times a day
- shave, then return to tanner and run another 1-2 hours
- "neutralizing mix" - add to tanner and run 15 minutes
- rinse, spin-out and apply warmed PRO-MAXX Oil (sweat overnight)
- TANNERS w/ TIMERS: run 5 minutes every hour morning to morning
(NOTE: do not use mechanical action tanning for fur bearers or mule deer)


Mount by Wes Mote...Wes uses the PRO-MAXX or
BRUSH ON TANNING SYSTEMS for all his whitetails...
"and of course the PRO-1 HIDE PASTE!" Wes Mote
2021 Nationals / Division of Excellence
. North American Champion - OM Whitetail / BOC
. Bruchac Award
. Breakthrough Best of Show
. Virtuoso Award for Excellence in Molding & Casting
. People's Choice Best Whitetail


Mount by Jena Everage...Jena exclusively uses the
PRO-MAXX TANNING SYSTEM & PRO-1 HIDE PASTE

2021 Nationals / Division of Excellence
. North American Champion - CM Whitetail / BOC
. Distinguished Taxidermist Award

 


Mount by Gene Smith - front cover of Breakthrough Magazine using the
COMPETITION WHITETAIL FORMULA version of PRO-1 BRUSH ON TAN.

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.
leather tanning concentrate by Pro-1 Performance Chemicals
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 / 24-48 hours)
  • knock off salt & relax completely in COLD water
  • drain briefly and proceed to pickle

Pickle utilizing "Leather Tanning Concentrate": for average deer cape

  • 5 gallons of water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
  • 5 lb. of salt (salinometer 40-43%)
  • 3 fl. oz. of LiquaSafe Acid
    (pH not to exceed mid-1-range...monitor & add acid as needed)
  • 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
  • do not worry about pH after adding LTC (it will come up slightly)

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...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)
    Note: DO NOT reuse pickle

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

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

SUBMERSIBLE - TANNERY QUALITY SYSTEM
Exact Skin Weight Formula...plus Short-Cut Versions...
Dry-Tan Finishing...Wet Drums

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% Baking Soda TOTAL (6 lb. cape = 96 oz. x .01 = .96 or 1 oz. rounded up)
    - add 1/3 baking soda to tan (mix well) ...agitate periodically
    - soak 1 hour between each 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 temperatureSWEATING OIL for SUBMERSIBLE TANS:
    - 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% of skin weight...
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% baking soda total, each 1/3 feed will be: .0033 on calculator x skin weight in oz.
Tip: 2 level teaspoons each feed per 5-6 lb. skin...or 1 level teaspoon per 3 lb. skin
Heavier skins may require 1.5% (the goal is 3 feeds minimum, but not require 6-7 feeds) ...
1.5% baking soda total, each 1/3 feed would then be: .005 on calculator 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 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 / neutralize tan (1 teaspoon baking soda per gallon solution / 1 hour soak / do 3 times)
- leave in tan soaking until end of day
- drain overnight (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
3. Combination of RB TAN FN and LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE

     - 2 ounces by weight RB TAN FN per gallon
     - 1 tablespoon LTC per gallon

DRY TANS: LEATHER FINISHING OIL APPLIED BY SWABBING

  • 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)

"SHORT-CUT VERSION FOR ANY DEER-SIZED CAPE" Submersible Tan Formula:
(NO WEIGHING REQUIRED...using LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE)

- 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)
TO FINISH TAN:
- remove cape & add 2 teaspoon measures Baking Soda (mix well)
- 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)

FINSHING SKINS AS DRY-TANS:
- 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)
- open skin, and apply a 2nd warmed coat LEATHER FINISHING OIL
  (for thin skins / fine furs – the first coat of oil is enough)
- immediately hang skin-exposed 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

(TO DISCARD TANNING SOLUTIONS: ADD BAKING SODA UNTIL PH 7.0)

 

REHYDRATING / DEODORIZING / PICKLING / DEGREASING
(includes instructions for "Grease and/or Freezer-Burned" skins)

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 & completely dried out)
- per gallon COLD water
- 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
- start rehydration mid-afternoon (rehydrate overnight ...keep submerged)
- skins should be rehydrated by next morning & ready for the pickle

Note:
- rehydration baths for "salt-dried" skins DO NOT NEED SALT ADDITION...
- you're introducing "saltless water to a waterless skin"...adding salt slows down the process
- "COLD water & Rehydrator" is all you need to rehydrate salt-dried skins

If not fully rehydrated after overnight rehydration: (thicker hides, etc.)
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 lukewarm water (not to exceed 80 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 30 minutes up to 2 hours (until relaxed & shaveable)
- 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 Degreaser on full strength over stubborn spots / areas &
use a serrated edge to "rake / soften" after draining from soak

Rehydrating "Wet-Salted" Skins: (salted once & drained overnight only)
- wet-salted skins have "dehydrated fiber" and do need rehydrated before pickling
- knock off salt & relax in plain, COLD water only until fully relaxed (30 minutes to 1 hour)
- 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 cool water (not to exceed 60 deg F)
- 1/4 lb. salt (helps to solubilize the glued / cemented proteins)
- 1/2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
- mix and adjust pH to 4.5-5.0 with small amount of acid (no lower than 4.0)
- 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 and warm water to assist
in rehydration. The acid not only helps pull
water in but the lower pH slows bacterial reactivation from the warmer water.
You may use this formula w/ COLD WATER for normal rehydration soaks...
warm water does increase bacterial risks, and is only a consideration for
very difficult to relax skins.
- per 5 gallon WARM water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
- 1 cup salt
- 2 fl. oz. Atesan LPW (or Degreaser)
- adjust pH down to 4.5-5.0 (no lower than 4.0...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: 5 fl. oz. 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 every 30 minutes first 2 hours, then every other hour Day 1 (periodically after that)
- keep submerged overnights
- use enough water for loose folds / free-float (appx. 5 gallon for avg. deer cape)
- check pH twice per day for first 3 days, 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)
- we do not recommend re-using pickles beyond twice
- TO DISCARD PICKLE SOLUTION: ADD BAKING SODA UNTIL PH 7.0

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 / recommended: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser

Degreasing: Degreaser use in pickle is recommended for all skins...
- non-greasy skins: 2 fl. oz. Degreaser / 5 gallon pickle
- greasy skins: 1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon pickle
- Note: for "greasy skins" - a separate WARM WATER DEGREASING is required (see below)
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)
- 1/2 lb. salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
- 1 tablespoon baking soda (helps relax acidic skin for better penetration)
- Odorous skins: 1 fl. oz. Deodorizer
- 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: 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)

BIRD & FISH TAN - Ducks, Turkeys, Geese, Pheasants, etc....even Ostrich!

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.
bird tan - fish tan by Pro-1 Performance Chemicals

Birds: (5-gallon on all solutions for turkeys / geese...1 gallon for duck-size)
- skin & wire-wheel / flesh clean
- wash (1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon warm water...rinse & proceed to pickle)
- pickle
- degrease
- tan

Citric Acid Pickle Formula: (weaker pH pickle for smaller birds...gentler on small bones)
- per gallon water
- 1 lb. salt
- 1-2 oz. Citric Acid (target pH 2.5-3.0...no lower)
- 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
- agitate periodically (pickle overnight only duck-size and smaller)
- Note: you can use a traditional pickle for larger birds
- pickle 2 days turkeys / geese...3 days Ostrich

Degreasing Bath: (after pickling & before tanning solution)
- per gallon warm water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
- 1 cup salt
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
- soak 30 minutes to 1 hour (remove, drain briefly only & proceed to tanning solution)

Bird Tanning Solution:
(leave SKIN-INSIDE-OUT @ room temperature)
- per gallon of water
- 1 cup salt (mix well)
- 1 fl. oz. BFT (mix well)
- agitate periodically - tan overnight minimum (can leave in tan)
- remove skin & drain (skin may be frozen at this time)
- to mount, wash & rinse per preference – blow dry or tumble
- DO NOT SOAK IN SOLVENT FUEL (you can briefly dunk to displace water after washing / rinsing)

Ostrich Tan Solution: per every 5 lbs drained, pickled skin
- 3 gallon water
- 3 cups salt
- 4 fl. oz. BFT

Fish: (pickling is not used with fish formula)
- skin / flesh clean
Degrease:
-1 fl. oz. Degreaser / gallon warm water (not to exceed 80 deg F)
- bass: soak 15-20 minutes
- for greasier skins such as salmon: add 1 cup salt per gallon water & degrease overnight
- rinse in warm water & proceed to tan
Fish Tanning Solution: (mix all ingredients well)
- per gallon water
- 1 cup salt
- 1 fl. oz. BFT
- 1 fl. oz. Degreaser
- Note: 1 gallon solution mix is good for 2 average 5-6 lb. bass-size fish skins
- soak 1 hour minimum @ room temperature - ready to mount
- or leave in solution (store in refrigerator)
- remove, rinse well - ready to mount (or bag & freeze)
- if skins are dehydrated after thawing from freezer, simply relax in lukewarm water

REPTILE TANNING - Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, Alligators

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: (gentler on teeth / scales / small bones)
- per gallon water
- 1 lb. salt
- 3 oz. Citric Acid
- 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
- pickle 1-3 days (thin / small skins: 1 day)
- degrease
- return to pickle overnight minimum

Degreasing Bath Formula:
- per gallon WARM water (80-85 deg F)
- 1/2 lb. salt
- 1 fl. oz. DEGREASER
- soak 1 hour (30 minutes thin skins)

Brush On Tanning: (for small non-scale snakes, lizards)
Neutralize pickled skin before applying BRUSH ON TANNING OIL:
- per gallon cool water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- soak 15 minutes...remove, rinse, 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 for Small Reptiles, Scaleless Snakes, etc.:
(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...paper towel dry & 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

Note: for scale-on snakes (DO NOT SOAK-PICKLE due to risk of scale loss)
- skin & flesh clean only
- brush on DEGREASER to flesh-side full strength (let set for 5 minutes)
- wipe off Degreaser with a paper towel
- brush / sponge on a coat of "pickle-solution" to the flesh-side...
- let set 1 hour and wipe off... repeat this 2-3 times before oiling
- apply BRUSH ON TANNNG OIL (fold skin-to-skin)
- leave @ room temp. to end of day...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 from pickle & go straight to Tan Solution...DO NOT PRE-NEUTRALIZE
Volume Submersible Tan Bath Formula for Alligators:
Note: this formula is good for appx. 10 lbs. drained, pickled skin/s...
simply double the amounts for 20 lbs., and so on
- per 5 gallon water
- 2 1/2 lb. salt
- 8 fl. oz. LEATHER TANNING CONCENTRATE
- 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
- 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

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