How does tanning lock hair in?

Submitted by Lance on 2/1/05 at 8:46 AM. ( )

First, I did do a search but mainly saw how salting locks hair in. Anyway, some tans advertise that they lock the hair in to the hide. Just exactly how does this occur? For that matter, how does dry salting lock hair in? Why does this not reverse in rehydration? Guess I would like to know the nitty gritty of the process instead of a vague idea. Any insight will be appreciated, Lance

Return to Tanning Category Menu

I think...

This response submitted by - on 2/1/05 at 10:57 AM. ( )

I think the tanning agents actually chemically cross-link the fibers around the hair shaft (called the hair follicle - the apparatus that holds the hair in the epidermis) in to the surrounding leather and collagen fibers. So the hair's follicle is glued to the surrounding skin.

It's not foolproof, older lamb "peels" - the entire epidermal grain layer peels off after x amount of years. Other skins will begin to shed as the bonds loosen.

Not really true of chrome tans (the bond never loosens?) but alum taws will shed like crazy.

I think salting just makes the skin shrink and "tighten up".


This response submitted by JD on 2/1/05 at 3:02 PM. ( )

I think the salting process locks in the hair and the tanning process stablizes the skin so it can remain flexible and not decompose, but I could be wrong.

There are some great articles

This response submitted by KB on 2/1/05 at 3:46 PM. ( )

on what really happens at Scroll down to the articles about cape tanning, hair slippage...great articles, great photos to help those of us who know THAT something works, but would like to know WHY it works.

I thought it was pickling...

This response submitted by alabamadan on 2/2/05 at 2:42 PM. ( )

I thought it was the pickling that got the hair to stay in place. I thought the salt drew mositure out of the skin and tanning turns the skin into leather. Do I have it wrong?

Return to Tanning Category Menu