Salt, or sodium and chloride ions are impermeable to cell membranes, they do not move freely back and forth. That's why salt works the way it does, it draws the water out of the cells, collapsing them.
Some cells can move ions. Neurons have a sodium/potassium pump that uses energy,(atp) to move those ions in and out of neurons to establish a voltage difference, which is the foundation of a neuron's ability to generate a nerve impulse. But that requires energy, it does not happen passively.
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The "physiologic salt" explanation was confusing, because as it was explained, salt is moving in and out of cells, which does not happen and would not cause a cell to collapse. If salt, (ions) could move back and forth freely, as well as water, they would move back and forth until dynamic equilibrium was reached, equal concentrations on both sides of the cell, and the cell would not lose its structure.
When you salt a hide, the water is drawn out of the cells, the salt over time may subsequently penetrate the hide after the cells have been crenated,(shrunk) and that's why I like to keep the hides on salt, and dry them rock hard. This also tightens up the hair follicles and has a hair "setting" effect by drying the skin tight around the hair.
Seems similar to kiln drying wood, although kiln dried wood will reabsorb moisture, the drying process stablilizes it, like a hide.
I like reading that kind or info, you and DMDC have good things to share,like how you put in a good way to understand, do you have alot of experience tanning?
I taught high school biology/chemistry/physics for 10 years, primarily biology. The salt and tanning information comes mainly from Bruce Rittel, from what I've read of his. I tan all my whitetail capes, for 3 years now, and have done fisher,fox, bobcat, raccoon otter bear.. I send out my bear now, they are a little large for my set up.