rinse bear b4 salting and fleshing?

Submitted by eric on 12/17/00. ( )

got a bear hide that was stored with a heavy layer of borax...i still need to flesh and remove paws and skull...would i be creating problems by rinsing off the borax (its caked on fur and flesh side)with water prior to doing this and do i need to salt afterwards prior to degreasing and tanning...i have done lots of other mammals but this is my first bear...thanks

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This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 12/18/00. ( rittel@ici.net )

Beware - that Borax will raise hell with your Ph levels if you plan to tan it yourself. Borax is an alkaline (high PH) and once its been applied and in the tissues - it's difficult to get out.

Assuming the Bear is not yet dried, I would suggest rinsing off the Borax as soon as possible, then damp-drying it (use sawdust), flesh it, salt it, shake out the salt, and let it dry. Then rehydrate it, and place it in your pickle. This is where your problems will occur. Monitor the PH of your pickle carefully. As any of the Borax leaches out the Ph of your pickle will rise. So be aware you will have to add acid until it levels off and the Borax is neutralized in the pickle. Leave the skin in the pickle for 6-10 days or at least until the Borax influence is stabilized. You want it removed before neutralizing and tanning.

In some respects your lucky. At least you know its Borax. I worked with some skins and we didnt know it was Borax they used to treat them. It drove us crazy compensating for rising Ph levels during the tanning process.

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