Boric acid as a disinfectant?

Submitted by michael e. lindenmeyer on 4/28/02. ( )

Since it is appropriate to tan capes/pelts in an acid (ph=3)
solution, is it also acceptable to add to that solution some boric
acid that should also provide some disinfectant properties
to the hide? Will boric acid in small or large concentrations
do any damage? Will it help?

Return to Tanning Category Menu


This response submitted by Glen Conley on 4/28/02. ( )

The very nature of an acid gives it properties of a bactericidal or
bacteriostatic nature.
The citric acid that is used in taxidermy will be an example I will use
here. Citric acid is produced in commercial quantities by a mold, not
by squeezing lemons. The anhydrous form you are buying is mold "poop",
the same stuff you are drinking in your soda pop. The basic principle
is the same as the mold that produces penicillin. Bacteria would be
competing with the molds for the same food stuffs, the acid is a by-product
of the mold. The acids can pass through the regulatory valves of the
phospholipid layer, screwing with the acids produced by the bacteriums
own synthesis, resulting in a dead microbe.

Remember there are always exceptions to the rule, but you have to deal
with probabilities and odds, so to make a blanket statement, once you
have gone under a pH of 3 with most acids, consider that to be "bacteria

Check the pH on your next glass of soda pop. It would be more inclined to
grow mold than to ferment as a result of bacterial action.


This response submitted by cur on 4/29/02. ( )

Borax is more a fungicide than an anti-bacterial agent. Actually, some bacteria can live in sulfuric acid compounds. (Not the kind you are likely to find in your shop.....Lol)

It doesn't hurt to rinse hides in a borax solution after the pickle or tan if you want to make em smell Downy fresh. Borax is inert and should not effect the ph of your pickle. Frankly, I have no tanning recipe that calls for borax, nor have I ever used it in bates, pickles or tanning solutions. I used to use a borax and hyposulphite soda (one pound hyposulphite of soda and four ounces of borax to one gallon of water) as a stop bath and rinse after chrome tanning. I don't know why it couldn't be used as a soak following any acid tan. Just soak in the soda/borax solution for a day and then wash thoroughly with clean water and hang to completely dry before re-wetting to break.

Return to Tanning Category Menu