When is the best time to wash and degrease?

Submitted by Steve Anders on 01/21/2004. ( 4anders@nemontel.net )

I'm trying to figure out the best time to wash and degrease. If I have a bloody antelope cape I usually wash it, rinse it well, let it drip for about 45 minutes and then put it in tumbler to dry it out good before salting. I don't do this on all my skins because I worry that the water will cause hair slippage, and I also read some information from Bruce who said it is better to wash after the pickle and before the tanning.

On deer capes I usually wash them with a mild detergent like Dawn after the pickling and neutralizing, and then rinse them thoroughly. I also monitor the changes closely in PH that the soap might cause. If I rinse thoroughly the PH will remain constant in the tanning solution.

I know most people on here, including Bruce Rittel who I respect greatly, wash the hide thoroughly after degreasing and before neutralizing and then place it back in the pickle for an hour to another day before neutralizing. I think this is mainly to stabilize any changes in the PH caused by the soap. I'm no expert at all, and I don't mean to question those who know, but I'm just wondering....won't this cause acid swelling when you put an unneutralized cape in water prior to neutralizing....and won't a clean cape come out dirty if you put it back into a dirty pickle.

As John mentioned earlier you don't see grease floating on used pickle solutions, but I know mine pickle solutions often end up filthy dirty and I'm just wondering won't it affect the cleanliness of the cape if you put a freshly washed cape back into it.

I'd sure appreciate it if someone could explain this to me a little better. I've read books and watched videos by other experts who say never let an unneutralized hide touch water without salt in it, so I've been doing my washing and (degreasing if needed) after neutralizing. So anyhow I'm just trying to figure this out and make sense of all the conflicting information that is out there. Thanks for your help...Steve

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This response submitted by Bill Yox on 01/21/2004. ( )

Its really very simple, you are trying to out think yourself maybe! First of all, you are on more then one topic here. Bloody pronghorn capes can be rinsed as soon as bloodied in cold water until it looks clear. Agitate the hair to remove the blood. This time is being measured in minutes, not soaking for any length. Dont hang for 45 minutes and tumble, just spin it out is a washer, or let hang for a FEW minutes, then salt well. Change the salt when it gets wet.

Now as far as washing, and degreasing and washing...if soap might goof up the pH, why not pickle, then wash, then neutralize? The soap will not goof the neutralization process if its done first. As for degreasing, pickle it, shave and degrease (you might need to pop it back into a salt bath for acid swell at this point) then back into the pickle. Wash, neutralize and go on from there.

Now, having said all this...I wash mine after the skin is neutralized. I just dont experience the trouble with pH levels from doing so. This is what works for me. Personally, if I were still unsure, Id spend the money and call Bruce on the phone. Hes quite knowledgeable as you have found out. Good luck with this!

Thanks Bill

This response submitted by Steve on 01/21/2004. ( )

I'm beginning to understand things a little better....Steve

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