I have read in books to never puy a pickled hide in plain water. The instructions I get with my tanning supplies and in the first kit I bought say to remove from pickle and rinse in cold water. Which way do I go? Have also read it could cause acid swell.
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Becareful not to get confused. Anytime you pickle a hide, the water must contain salt, the purpose of the salt is to pull moisture from the skin. Acid rot is when there is not enough salt in your pickle solution and what happens is, the skin absorbs extra pickle solution. This pickle solution is acidic, and the acid continues to break down the cellular structure of the hide even after it is remove from the pickle.
Now after your hide has been pickled throuroughly, which you can tell by pressing your nail into it. If the nail mark remains, your hide is pickled. You can use plain water to rinse your hide off. You just don't want to soak your hide in plain water, the hide will absorb water and you could end up with hair slippage. But rinsing a hide in plain water will not hurt anything.
Do you mean the instructions say - after its pickled, then rinse it with plain water and neutralize it? Rinsing does not mean soaking it. It's simply a way to reduce the carryover of chemicals into the next bath. In this case the neutralizing solution.
When you rinse - you can use water in a tub but dont soak it in it, simply wash the skin in it.