paper like spots after tanning and breaking

Submitted by Keith Mitchell on 9/12/01. ( )

I just finished a batch of muskrat pelts and have found spots on the skin that reamin hard and paper like. The pelts were air dried and relaxed and then pickled in oxalic acid, fleshed with a wire wheel and /or by hand and tanned using Lutan F. I used Protol for the oiling and tumbled them dry. About 50% of the skins turned out beautiful but the rest have the spots. Some of the skins are about 50% paper like. They were well fleshed and additional fleshing causes the hide to tear. I have tried oiling again but get the same result. Would anyone know what I did wrong or how to fix these spots? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Keith

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There may be several reasons!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 9/13/01. ( )

These "hard spots" may be the result of several reasons that may be worthwhile re-examining in your process.

The most obvious reason is that it may indicate that your tanning solution may have been too weak (not enough tan), and the skins unevenly tanned - or - the skins were too crowded into your tanning container, and either unevenly tanned because of the crowding or the lack of enough chemicals.

Another common area to re-examine is your oiling process. Paper-like skins are usually the result of a "lack of oil" in the skins. This can be caused by heavy washing with a detergent and/or hot water "after" tanning - where the oil is actually washed out. It can also be caused when someone tries to dry their skins too quickly like in a clothes dryer - where the heat actually drives out the oil.

Another area is your drying process! Skins require some moisture (25%)in them to become soft. If - while they are drying you subject them to heat and extreme low humidity, you will drive out this moisture if you leave them there too long.

My suggestion - rehydrate, pickle and do them again! Re-check the above suggestions where you may have a problem, and try to correct it. If you need a formula for Lutan F (N) tanning - E-Mail me at

Rittels Tanning Supplies
Bruce Rittel

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