Tanning and Pickling Questions for Bruce Rittel

Submitted by Steve Steinbring on 11/22/00. ( nsc@netrus.net )

I have several questions to clear up in my mind on tanning and pickling. Could you please address the following:

Can you place a fresh cape directly into a pickle to hold it without salting first? Normally you would salt 2-3 times then rinse off, pickle or dry. The salting serves to preserve the hide and protects the hide in the pickle and tan if I'm correct. Why would it not work by direct immersion without salting since osmosis would take place in the pickle which has a super saturated salt concentration and the pickling acid? This is accepting that the PH is properly maintained. I understand that the salt acts to preserve the hide and to protect the hide in the acid pickle. If direct immersion of a fresh hide into the pickle it could be a more direct holding method for hides until fleshing is completed.

What is the proper acid concentration percentage in the pickle and tan? I understand the pickle PH to be 1-1.5 and the tan to be 4-4.5 depending on the acid.

Do the acid bate enzymes act as a buffer to the tanning solution and increase the tan penetration?

Your insight is appreciated. Thanks.

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Here's my best shot!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 11/22/00. ( rittel@ici.net )

Some Taxidermists do place their skins and capes directly into the pickle - but you wont find Tanneries doing it! They prefer the skins dried, drained of fluids and tight! Salt does a lot of things - it leaches out the unwanted fluids from the flesh, it preserves the skin once its dry, and it accelerates the drying of it. And obviously, once dry, the dried skin tightly holds the fur or hair tightly in place. This "snugging up" of the roots is desirable in ensuring the skin makes it through the tanning process with no slippage!

In the Pickle - Salt is used "ONLY" to counteract the effects of the acid and it does "chemically clip" some proteins, making a more reactive skin later, in the tan. A skin, placed in water, and then if an acid were added, would swell up and the fibers would physically pull apart. This is called acid swelling. To avoid this swelling, salt is added to prevent the acid from causing this condition. Could you still tan such a swollen skin? Yes - but it would be extremely weak and tear like paper.

As for acid concentrations in the pickle and tan - you would have to be more specific as to which acid or/and tan you are using. Saftee Acid typically has a Ph range of 1.0-1.5, depending upon your local water supply Ph level - but tans are very sensitive PH-wise and EZ-100 should hover around a 4.0 Ph for the best uniform tannage. 3.8-4.2 will work as a + or - range.

Acid Bate is actually a dormant enzyme powder thats used directly in the pickle. It likes an acid environment - unlike the bates used in leather that like an alkaline or raw environment. They are used to remove the insoluable fats from the skin that cant be removed by ordinary solvent or degreaser solutions! And they do it exceptionally well! Yes - they do aid in the tan penetration, but more importantly, they produce a soft, buttery feeling skin! I wouldnt tan a Buffalo skin without using an acid bate on it!

Great job

This response submitted by Frank Kotula on 11/23/00. ( basswtrout@aol.com )

I glad you cleared that up for a lot of people on this forum.

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