bear hide acid tanning is this enough ?

Submitted by souwestnova on 2/15/05 at 8:19 PM. ( )

I never tanned before , an old man told me to tan a bear skin use acid , salt and water .leave it in this solution for a few weeks . I did this stirring every day . I took it out neutralized the hide and left over solution . I didn't dare to handle it too much as the fur would pull out easy . I stretched it and dried it, the hair is staying in good but it is greasy . The hide is also very stiff. I never stuffed the head with anything and now the snout is wrinkled.
I was thinking of wetting it again to get the wrinkles out , but wondering about the hair if it will fall out ..
I was reading some posts it seems that what I done was pickel the hide ,not tan it .was i supposed to do something else ?
Is there any way to make the hide softer? I did sand it down some what .
Is it ok to re wet the head to fix the nose ? If so would I use just water ?
i would appreciate any help i can get...tnanks

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send it off

This response submitted by ev on 2/15/05 at 9:10 PM. ( )

I would not even try to tan a bear hide. You are better off to send it to a tannery if you want it soft.It is to much work trying to get it soft yourself.

You have ruined it.

This response submitted by John C on 2/15/05 at 9:19 PM. ( )

First thing is you should have done your homework instead of asking an oldtimer.

See that tanning button on your left?

There is about a years worth of advice in it, its free you just have to read and click you mouse.

Here are the steps.

Salt hide change salt add more salt.
Have this hide head up a slope so body fluids drain.

Mix your acid bath called a pickle, down to a pH of 2. You need to know how to compare litmus paper colors.

Adjust and keep the pH under 3.5


after a few days, remove hide allow to drain and thin the hide.

Return to pickle for a few more days.

Degrease using a GOOD SOAP!

Check your work. Return to pickle for a couple more days.

Check the pH!

Neutralize and go immediatly into the tanning vat, this has salt in it and the pH in normally around 4 to 5 depending on the product you use. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS FOR THAT PRODUCT.

remove oil and break for softness.

There are no if's and's or but's to these directions. No what if either, you either follow them and get a good product or not.


This response submitted by souwestnova on 2/16/05 at 11:25 AM. ( )

this was a last second thing .i have a head mounted by a taxidermist . this bear was a large bear for these parts at 375lbs it was warm and it took a few hours to get it out the woods . i knew that bears have easy hair slippage in warm weather ,so i wasnt going to send it to have tanned. then a old timer told me this method and i thought worth a try , i was going to throw it away anyway . so i did and it worked (for now) just a little greasy and stiff. i just wanted a way to preserve the hide to put on the wall of the hunting camp . if it didnt work it was no big deal to me . as for this forum i just stumbled on to it ,and it is great lots of help here for the old timer he has never tanned one himself he just dries deer hide fur off and uses the leather to make indian drums and other things . thanks again

Next time

This response submitted by Steve A. on 2/16/05 at 4:43 PM. ( )

If nothing else this was a learning experience for you. I don't know if the hide will be worth anything or not now. I'm just curious what type of acid you used. In the old days, a lot of people used battery acid. I've heard it is very hard to neutralize and will keep eating away at your hide. There are better acids available for tanning today.

Next time flesh most of the flesh off and salt the hide heavily rubbing it in with your hands. Fold it flesh side to flesh side. Let the moisture drain out of it. Place it on a board or on milk crates in a cool place. A fan helps dry it out quickly. After 24 hours shake the salt off and resalt. After another day or two open it up and let it dry out hard. If you do all this the hair shouldn't slip even if it is somewhat warm out. Then take it to a tanner.

If you want to learn to tan, maybe start out with a deer skin. Tanning is not easy.

learning expreience

This response submitted by souwestnova on 2/17/05 at 7:38 AM. ( )

Yes this is a learning experience for me . As for the hide being worth anything or not , all I wanted out of this was to be able to show the size of the bear to my friends . Now that I have tried tanning it is something I would like to get into ,but only for my personal use . As for my bear hide it seems all I did was pickel it not tan it . Is this true?
Thanks again


This response submitted by T on 2/17/05 at 2:17 PM. ( )

I have mounted alot of bears over the years and have done very well with dry preservatives.. Fleshing is very important to eliminate any oders, but they have held up well! My first one was mounted back in 95 and still looks good!


This response submitted by Steve A. on 2/17/05 at 5:46 PM. ( )

Yes, it is pickled. The tanning process follows that. Actually the tanning is fairly simple you just soak it in another solution. I've never tanned bear before. I'd imagine you'd also have to degrease them prior to tanning. The proper salting process is vital to keep the hair from slipping in the beginning of the tanning process. Fleshing all the fat and meat off and thinning the thicker parts of the hide is also very important for soft leather. You might want to buy Bruce Rittels tape on fleshing and tanning. These forums are also loaded with good info. Hope this helps. As you can see there's a lot to turning out a good product.

i'm learning thanks

This response submitted by souwestnova on 2/17/05 at 7:09 PM. ( )

I really appriciate the response I'm getting thanks alot . As for the fleshing part that was done quite well as I also do some trapping . I got the hide fleshed out good , all the fat and meat and around the back and neck I thinned down to the same thickness as the rest. Now that it is already dry can I still tan it will it ruin it if I get it wet again ? I know when I sell my furs they are just dried not salted or anything the buyers pickle and tan them themselves now the big question . What is the easyiest way and where can get this stuff? I'm in nova scotia canada we dont have any suppliers around here that i know of . Oh and i used new battery acid then soaked it in baking soda for a day to neutralize it .

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