Major slippage on a deer hide after in the pickle

Submitted by Chris on 01/22/2003. ( )

Yes, I have tried the orange button.

I have tanned hundreds of items, but this is a first for me. I had a kid bring me a deer hide that he wanted tanned and he was interested in learning the tanning process. The hide was fairly well fleshed and lightly salted with rock salt and tied in a bundle when it arrived at my shop. Right then and there I was thinking PROBLEMS. However, I opened up the hide and everything seemed tight. I put the hide in a rehydration bath with a small amount of bacteriacide. Once it was rehydrated I put in the pickle (Saftee acid). Yes, I check my Ph frequently and it has never been above 1.8, salinity was fine as well. Pickled for 3 days and then removed and the hide was fleshed completely. I then washed it for 20 minutes in super solvent. At this time I started noticing lots of loose hair floating. Upon closer examination there is patches of hair falling out everywhere. Normally I would think well the hide was impromperly handled in the field, but the thing that has me puzzled is why the hide didn't show any slippage until it was being degreased?

Anyone have a similar thing happen? This is one of the few full size deer hides that I have done, I have excellent success on my small mammal skins in terms of no slippage.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome. The kid who owns the hide is coming back tomorrow to put it in the tan and I would like to give him a sound reason for the slippage other than you probably didn't handle it right in the field.


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Hello Chris!

This response submitted by steve rotramel on 01/22/2003. ( )

The picture I'm getting is of a situation where the skin is partially protected and then processed after a somewhat prolonged delay. The same kind of thing happens when a hide or cape sits in a meat processors' cooler for a week or two.

The skin doesn't reek; in fact may not smell "rotten" at all. Unfortunately the proof in this pudding is the hair loss.

To be salt cured, a hide MUST have 15% to 20% content. That will not happen with a light sprinkle of rock salt.

The curing happens when the organic fluids from the skin are drawn out of the skin by the surface contact with the salt. The fluids in turn dissolve the salt where the same osmotic pressures pull the salt into the skin. There is some debate as to whether the salt rides the higher salinity fluids in or actually swims upstream on its' own, but there is no doubt that no further penetration will occur after the fluids are exhausted from the skin.

This is why granulated salt works better, there is way more initial surface contact, and the salt dissolves easier. Rock salt can pull substantial fluid from a skin without dissolving as much; therefore the salinity offer to underlying corium fibers is much lower.

With a thin skin, which has little fluid content to start with, very little curing has occurred, hence the hair loss from bacteria and autolysis.

Unfortunately the damage was done early. The fact that it didn't show up until late in the process only makes it worse considering your loss of time and effort.

And unfortunately too, sometimes you just can't tell what's going to happen until you get there.

Thanks steve

This response submitted by Chris on 01/22/2003. ( )

You confirmed my beliefs. Guess I just wanted some reasurance that it wasn't my fault. I screw things up enough, I don't want to start taking blame for things that aren't my fault! LOL


Salt in ALL solutions

This response submitted by Intermountain Tanning on 01/28/2003. ( )

The appropriate use of common salt in all wet processes for hair-on tanning and fur dressing will prevent hair slip/loosening in the majority of situations. Salt in solution prevents the epidermis from plumping and loosening hair. Only in cases of extreme bacterial activity should there be hair slip or hair shedding(shot holes, delay of cure, fleshing/shaveing too thin, etc.). Salting and drying are important beginning processes. I would recommend the following salt quantity for various processes:

Soak(rehydration) 1/4 #/gallon
SoakII(wash/scour) 1/3 #/gallon
Pickle 1.0 #/gallon
Neutralise 0.5 #/gallon
Tan 0.5-0.75#/gallon

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