whats with alum tans?

Submitted by Brent on 11/6/04 at 11:18 PM. ( )

Whats so bad about alum tans. I hear they say Krowtan is an alum tan. I have used it on fox and bobcats with great results.

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Personal preference

This response submitted by George on 11/7/04 at 12:00 AM. ( georoof@aol.com )

Bruce Rittel explains the long term problems with alum tans in the archives. It also washes out in water, but for small game mounts, they'll probably outlive you anyway.

Its been used for several hundred years and works.

This response submitted by John C on 11/7/04 at 1:07 AM. ( )

I have been Alum tanning for all my taxidermy years. I have the first deer cape I ever tanned with Alum.

The nose finally feel offfffff, its been in a steel building the last nine years, no heat, no ac, it layed in a puddle of water in the ex Brother in laws basement for four years. Molded, mildew, its been treated ruff anything that can happen under normal household conditions.

It has stretch, still has the hair.

Alum tans have been around longer than the "Newer Synthetic tans" so do we really know the new tans are better?



I use both

This response submitted by Jim Burnside on 11/7/04 at 8:43 AM. ( )

I use both Krowtann and liquid tan and like them both . Like John said in some cases the Alum tan does hold up well . I have a deer that was mounted in the mid-1960's with Alum tan and coated with arsenic paste on the wall and it still looks good for a deer mount of that era. Back then the practise was to use arsenic as a moth repellent ,which we know today is not a good idea.
Since I got my first bottle of Krowtann from Brian just after its release on the market I have tried it on everything from mink to elk and have had no problems . I like Rittel's and also McKenzie tans also and they do a great job .

Alum tannage

This response submitted by oldshaver on 11/7/04 at 11:32 AM. ( )

There are many fine examples of alum tawed skins in museums all over the world dating from mid-evil times. Total emersion in very warm water(55-60 degrees celcius or 131-140 degrees F-- according to the Progress In Leather Conservation Conference- University of Texas,Austin) is the only thing that can reverse the tanning process. Atmospheric moisture will not affect it. Alum tanned skins have also been found to be very resistant to atmospheric pollutants.(Journal of Conservation And Museum Studies)The same journal will also tell you that oils containing unsaturated fats will increase the stability of the leather. Some will try to argue against alum, using old Smithsonian mounts as an example. This is not a viable arguement considering the products available for fur dressers at that time.(sulphuric acid, saturated fat oils- seal blubber) There is a long list of things working against the preservation of those skins, that we know much better now, and how to overcome them.

OS, I invite you to visit the Smithsonian

This response submitted by George on 11/7/04 at 4:07 PM. ( georoof@aol.com )

Go into "1876-A Centenial Celebration" and then go to the back of the museum where all those animals are mounted using alum tans. THEN tell me what you've just written is anyplace close to factual.

Been there-done that

This response submitted by oldshaver(Aubrey Young) on 11/7/04 at 5:20 PM. ( oldshaver@yahoo.com )

Anybody that believes that alum is what did that to those skins, needs to take a serious laxative, because they are so full of crap they are about to explode! I dont care what you tan with, but you and a couple of others are proven wrong every day. I have tested this theory, and it just dont hold water, so has John C. and many others. I have the same alum tanned skin in a corner of the wet room where I work, that has been sitting there for close to a year, submerging it in water once a month. Still has the same good stretch, and stregnth. It has been exposed to a wide variety of temps also. No mount on someones wall would go through this kind of abuse in 100 years time! Search the sources I listed and you will see an opinion of alum tanning that is not that of those with a vested intrest. How many skins do you tan every year George? Not many Im sure. The 3 largest tanners in the country use alum with great success, and have been in business for 25 years plus. Would they still be in business if alum is so bad? NO

OK, I'll bite. Give me the names of those THREE

This response submitted by George on 11/7/04 at 7:38 PM. ( )

And I'm a helluva lot older than you are and I've seen alum at work. I know what it does and does not do. It's an easy tan, it's a white tan, and it's not the BEST tan. Case closed. I'm not buying into it at all. If it was SO good, why do you think all those people bothered creating other tans? Get real.

As far as how many hides I tan every year, maybe 40 or 50 from when I used to do 3 or 4 times that many. With any luck, I'll be down to 10 or 12 this year and half that for next year.


This response submitted by oldshaver on 11/8/04 at 7:13 PM. ( )

Actually, it would be quicker for me to list the Tanners that are not using alum. You have been doing Taxidermy long enough to know who the top three are. I have had my hands on tens of thousands of skins over the years, so even though I am only 40, I feel that this qualifies me to have an educated opinion. I have seen it ALL! I think pretty much along the same lines you do on most subjects, but on this one, myself and most others will just have to agree to dis-agree with you.


This response submitted by George on 11/8/04 at 9:20 PM. ( )

You know, that's the one reply that always shuts me up. Damned if I'm gonna sit here and argue with myself. LOL

George do you want to see this old deer cape?

This response submitted by JOhn C on 11/9/04 at 11:43 PM. ( )

I have never taken care of this cape, finally after many many years the nose fell off.

The cape was spoiled when I started, I even sanded the flesh side.

It has been in a metal Q hut for the last 5 summers, before that it spent three years in a metal garden shed in KS. Before that is layed in water in my X brother in laws basement.

Before that I kicked it around the shop, took it to shows to demo my tanning.

Remember when Lutan was discovered?
WW-II by the NAZI's, since they had been cut off from supplies.
It is a by-product.

Now look at your under arm deoderant, it contains LUTAN-F.
Aluminum Chloride, if its so great why has iit not killed the skin under your arms?

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