Alum Tans- Time for facts to talk and BS to walk.

Submitted by A Real Expert on 04/06/2004 at 19:03. ( )

Whenever I have time to come on this site, I see that alum tans are being beat up regularly. Its usually by the same two people. Ive been doing large mammal taxidermy since the mid 70's. My first NTA convention was at Bucknell University in PA in 1976. "When McKenzie went to his first trade show to exhibit his deer forms ". Sometime during the mid 90's you started hearing about these so called Syn-Tans. Now that the net is in everyone's home a couple of guys on here seem to be our "saving grace".

What would we do without these newcomers to taxidermy-tanning that are now a legend in their own minds. How did the industry survive without these two knowledgable chemist and experienced tanners ? If it wasnt for the net and their unselfish advice, we'd probably all starve to death as taxidermist. EXAMPLE, One of them made the comment, "Why dont you think they make shoes out of Alum tan leather ? ". Who are they ? They are probably about 500 diffrent shoe makers world wide using several hundred tanneries. You cant truefully say that none of them use Alum. Who in the world wants a cape to fit and mount up like shoeleather ? Shoe leather tanning and taxidermy tanning are like apples and oranges.

FACT: There are dozens of tans for dozens of applications, but for taxidermy fur dressing the largest US Taxidermy fur dressers doing the largest volume of work, with the largest client base, for the longest amout of years, are using an Alum tan. This is a FACT !

You keep beating that dead horse about the mounts in the Smithsonian. You cant prove they were tanned with alum, and you cant prove the formulation. You cant prove the hide paste or glue wasnt the culprit. Perhaps the alkalinity from the paper and plaster forums caused the detereration. The fact that these two keep saying " Ask any commercial leather tanner why none of them use Alum to produce leather ", Is not pertinient to the question of whether Alum tans are good for taxidermy fur dressing.

By the way, I did ask if any commercial tannery used alum and the first real expert I asked said that every major league baseball used in the US is tanned with alum. ( Those baseballs are stretched very tight to be such a sorry tan. ) I have the name of the tannery, location, and the phone number if anyone is interested.

Next, I spoke with a REAL chemist " Not Mr Wizard ". Working for a leading for a leading US Chemical supplier. When asked if hydrogen from the atmosphere or H2O would combine with the sulphate in the alum to form sulphuric acid, his reply was ( when he finished laughing ) " Whoever said that must not be a chemist ". He also said there is no free hydrogen in the atmosphere and that all the hydrogen atoms are already combined and that if the hydrogen in H2O were to combine with the SO4 in Alum, this would be an uphill reaction and this could not happen natrually. Fact: Done correctly, Alum tan cant be beat for stretch, softness and durability.

And washing out ? Get Real ! Alum is not going to be washed out during rehydration. How many times do you hear of a taxidermist running their cape thru the maytag before mounting? You can complain about any tan if is no used correctly. Its all in how the product is used..

The alum formulation given to Harold on 3/21/04 is wrong, wrong, wrong ! But this is true to form why people knock any good product. Its because they dont know how to correctly use it. I would like to close my post with a quotation from the one and only "True Giant " of the industry as far as taxidermy fur dressing is concerned. This quotation was about the individuals he called chemical salesmen who would try to sell him new age substitutes to fix something that was not broken :

" You know, Its nothing wrong with being stupid, but when they open their mouth and prove it thats another story " Sinclair Clark.

You where right Sinclair and your remarks still hold true today.

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I shall lay out some suggestions for reading..

This response submitted by Not an expert.. but.. on 04/06/2004 at 21:02. ( )

Some statements made by "Mr. Wizard", as you refer to him, are coroborated by this on-line paper in regards to washing out the tan - see paragraph 12 in:

A more technical explanation of the breakdown of alum tanned leathers can be seen in this article:

Your statement that free hydrogen in the air causes sufuric acid is a bit too simplistic. This second article explains the actual chemical processes involved. All natural history conservators I am aware of do believe acidification and degradation occurs in alum tanned leather.

Lastly, in regards to the Smithsonian. There are documented materials used on the mammal mounts produced by Hornaday since during his stay at the Smithsonian they followed his text on preparation. Alum tawing, which was the Hornaday method, did not involve some of the current steps in modern use of Aluminum Alum tanning. There is very good documentation that these specimen essentially fell apart over the years.

All this does not preclude that Alum tanning utilizing Aluminum, Potassium, or Ammonium Sulphate, or slight variations of these chemicals, does not produce a servicable tan that is appropriate for commercial taxidermy. One must just be careful about how the skin is treated and be aware of the limitations of long term survival of the mount.

"Expert" my arse

This response submitted by George on 04/06/2004 at 21:33. ( )

You can use my name as I use it. Since you're too gutless to back up your claims with any credentials (such as a real name), your argument seems to pale. You shoulda paid more attention to Mr. Wizard like I said.


This response submitted by straight shooter on 04/06/2004 at 22:05. ( )

You cant use your name on here George if you have anything to say that contradicts the clique. Nobodys name means anything on here unless you have made almost 700 post like you have. If you pay attention to what was said by the man above, the old ways of alum tanning are not the same as today. By the way, please give the mr. wizard crap a rest. It is starting to look like you have nothing intelegent to say on the subject.

Ask Bruce Rittel

This response submitted by John on 04/06/2004 at 22:07. ( )

Why don't you all ask Mr. Rittel (A REAL expert on the subject) and quit Jaw Jacking Alum. I use it I like it. So who gives a crap if you guys don't!


This response submitted by also not an expert on 04/06/2004 at 22:09. ( )

Somebody rained on Mr. Roof's parade. Its ok Mr. Roof you still have a thousand mindless followers who wade through your B.S. If "expert" needs to pay more attention to what Mr. Wizard said, maybe you should pay attention to what Mr. Sinclair Clark said.

Do you legends in your own minds use mirrors?

This response submitted by George on 04/06/2004 at 22:22. ( )

I wholehearted agree with Sinclair. You two spineless creatures prove he was correct. And SS, what "clique" keeps you from voicing your honest opinions? That's almost as gutless as having no name. I respect anyone who's proud enough of their convictions to aschew anonymity. At least it proves you actually believe what you're saying. Using a fake name allows someone (even me) to come on here and pretend to be you. Notice no one wants to be "George Roof"? If they did, they know everyone else would know it anyway.

Now that you've been provided with applicable links to REAL EXPERT OPINIONS, does that mean you're still talking, or are you walking.

I really DON'T care if you use alum nor your fabrication of figures about commercial tanneries. The ones I use don't use alum and that pleases ME. After it's all said and done, that's the only person I have to please anyway. And I paraphrased that from Bill Yox (Check the archives).


This response submitted by . on 04/06/2004 at 22:34. ( )

I would never use your name Mr. Roof, I fear I would be struck by lightening where I sit.

LOL Dot Boy

This response submitted by George on 04/06/2004 at 22:58. ( )

I fear that same thing. LMAO

No really?

This response submitted by Robert B on 04/06/2004 at 23:42. ( )

How do you really feel about Alum Tann?

I used alum tan

This response submitted by Ken R. Walker on 04/07/2004 at 00:34. ( nomorecracking@home )

for many years.I will never use it again.

Yer shoes are too tight ain't they?

This response submitted by wannabe on 04/07/2004 at 08:09. ( )

Dear Mr. Submitted by A Real Expert on 04/06/2004

04/06/2004 is past, you are hereby no longer "A Real Expert".

I am a fan of Alum!

This response submitted by Jeff "458okie" W. on 04/07/2004 at 11:35. ( )

I have used an Aluminum Sulphate immersion tan for many years, and love it! PROPER neutralizing & oiling is vital, however. I also like the newer methods, too, such as McKenzie tan. Alos ancient methods such as bark tanning.

Jeff W.

Ken-Im not sure but-

This response submitted by straight shooter on 04/07/2004 at 20:36. ( )

arent you affiliated with WASCO supplies. If you are, that explains your post. Dosnt WASCO sell Rittels products? Just a thought. Thanks for everything you do for this web site. It is appreciated!

I hope you dont have Sweaty Feet!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 04/07/2004 at 21:40. ( )

To "A Real Expert"! I hope you dont have sweaty feet - because if you are wearing your new Alum tanned shoes - you're going to get one hellacious rash! And Duh! That's also why all Fur Coats and Hats have a liner - the wearer doesnt want to prespire and get a rash from the acid formed when the prespiration and sulphates mix! I hope that makes sense? And yes - I can say that I know of no Alum tanned shoes on the market. Maybe tanned in Alum and then retanned in a more durable tan - but not simply Alum! It doesnt happen. Wrong!

You are partially right about the Fur Dressing industry - for garments! And yes - there are a few who still tan with Alum in the Custom Taxidermy tanning business - but many of the newer Tanneries do not use Alum - so its a mixed bag. And by the way - Leather tanning, Fur Dressing tanning and Custom Taxidermy tanning are 3 different industries. To quote - dont mix apples with oranges!

Do you have any friends? Like - have you ever talked to some of the Smithsonian people? Or any other Museum people? Does it tell you anything that these places have to spend a lot of money to replace aging, splitting, drummed, discolored and falling apart mounts? Do you have any respect for "their" expertise?

Boy - that baseball making Tannery is one I want on my list when I want a good cape Alum tanned for mounting! You really got lucky on that one - first call?

That REAL Chemist? Is he an Amway distributor too? Or - did you mislead his answer when you asked it - because the answer is - free Sulphates loosely bonded can recombine into Sulphuric Acid. Wear your Alum tanned shoes if you dont believe it!

As for washing out - how many Bears do you do? Have you ever had a customer bring you back an Alum tanned Bear rug with hard areas to be repaired. Usually its because his Dog peed there. Well think about it. The urine washed out the Alum and now its raw hard and you have to cut it out to repair it. I've done it many times.

And - yes - some of the Alum is washed out during rehydration. Not ALL of it - but a small percentage of it does.

And please - I can't associate you with Sinclair Clark! He was a man I admired greatly - in fact I still use his formula for Alum tanning when I want to for whatever reason. He is probably the closest man I know to really qualifying as "The Real Expert"!

And as for Alum - I dont have a problem with it! However, to a real expert - common sense should tell you some of the facts I just talked about do hold true. I dont have to be an expert to know that fur coats simply fall apart in 14-20 years! Actually - use it - but if the truth hurts - then always consider alternatives! The really smart people I know that use Alum for their Taxidermy tanning are at least aware of these problems - what surprises me is that you arent!

And by all means please post the name of that Baseball factory! That should really be helpful to all of us involved in Taxidermy.


This response submitted by ss on 04/07/2004 at 22:30. ( )

Bruce, did you even read the origional post? Your remarks about shoes suggest that you didnt.You talk about those of us involved in taxidermy, but then you mention fur coats? Sweaty shoes?-- so now the culprit is salt water. The original post explains why shoes are not made with alum tanned leather. I got to go to bed- this bull crap is boring me to death!

Ken. Work for WASCO? LMAO

This response submitted by George on 04/07/2004 at 22:45. ( )

John, stop playing around. Ken sells his forms through Joe Coombs. You know that.

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