Disposal of Tanning Chemicals

Submitted by Leather Neck on 01/11/2003. ( )

I am curious to hear how some of you that tan hides and furs are disposing of your wastes.
From what I have read, most of the tanning systems mentioned here are safe and harmless to the environment (Alums, Veg tans, Syntans to a degree, etc). Care should be excercised in the use of solvents for degreasing though. Diluted solvent solutions should pose no problem but dumping concentrated solutions into a ditch for example is not eco-friendly. Even solvent-free degreasers sometimes can pose a poblem for the environment if they do not "break down" and readily decompose. Some pollutants can rob oxygen from water and pose danger for plant and animal life. Or in other cases encourage the growth of unwanted plants and organisms. A small tanning / taxidermy operation that discharges its waste water into a city municipal treatment system I think would be better than discharging onto land or in streams but that is just my opinion. The reason being that those collected wastes could then be treated by a high-tech waste water treatment plant found in every town and city in the Country. I would also use care if my shop was discharging into a 'septic tank' system since high concentrations of some chemicals can disrupt the growth of essential micro organisms needed for breaking down household wastes. All I am suggesting is that people use common sense. This is directed to the 'home tanner / hobbyist' type person that 'plays' around with different type chemicals and agents. The prepared kits that I have seen mentioned by Mr. Rittel for example are completely safe though.
Years ago the tanning industry was considered one of the most terrible polluters of our environment. Now that has changes. You would be impressed if you knew in detail some of the strict regulations that tanners today are facing and how well we are keeping our environment clean.
Likewise...this should apply to the small operations as well.

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This response submitted by Leather Neck on 01/11/2003. ( )

Forgot to mention a 'bad boy'.....Formaldehyde or 'Formalalin' as some of you may know it. This is a dangerous substance and not somthing to 'play around' with. Even in very low concentrations this chemical can be catastrophic for the environment. On humans this agent has been known to promote cancer, birth defects, and a long list of other health defects.
~ experiment safely~


This response submitted by John C on 01/11/2003. ( )

Hum, lets see who uses the most of it? Taxidermist or funeral homes?

So for the big part taxidermist use so little of it, the effect is nill from our industry. The average corpse takes one gallon, i.e. Crouch Funeral Home. A large corpse may take two gallons.

Just use care when formalin is handled.

Any acids return to base when neutralized. the salt can be the worst thing we dump.

As for tanning chemicals, Why would someone with sewer access not dump them down the drain, they have already paid for the sewege disposal.

Lutan-F in pretty much depleated from the solution, when tanning is done. but again the salt can be a factor.

Thanks John

This response submitted by Leather Neck on 01/11/2003. ( )

As far as Formaldehyde is concerned as you mentioned...yes..very true that the funeral homes are using this substance in quantity but keep in mind that we are talking about very different applications here. For their use they are 'preserving' a human body for burial. All of the Formaldehyde is being injected into the corpse and remains in the corpse...body is then placed in sealed container (casket) and buried. This is not an 'aqueous / water / tanning' solution that is being discharged into the water stream. I am not trying to cause a panic but as you mentioned safe handling of this substance is imperative. It is toxic. Period.

Everyone Does Not have sewer access.

Very true....the vast majority of tanning chemicals are in fact absorbed and remain in the hide.

salted water disposal

This response submitted by JGray on 01/13/2003. ( )

high way camps the folks who plow the winter roads have salt container sheds wonder if we could dump the brine baths there

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