Tanning vs. Auto Tanners

Submitted by FunFemHere on 11/10/05 at 5:06 PM. ( kscarpenter2002@msn.com )

Hello All,

I need some opinion. We are considering getting an AUTO TANNER. I would like to get your opinion on the pros and cons of them. I know nothing about them. We typically do a pickle tan and have never had problems. I am hoping the auto tanner will cut down on some of our time but do just as good of a job as the standard wait time on a pickle tan.


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I too was thinking of getting an Auto Tanner.

This response submitted by jrosbor on 11/10/05 at 5:15 PM. ( huntersdream3x@hotmail.com )

But the size doesn't add up.
With a good acid and aux. and running up to 10 capes at a time. I can have 10 capes done in two days. Even with the larger auto tanner I think 4 capes a day is pushing it. I don't own one but with the system I have I can't mount them as fast as I can tan them. Joe

We have used ours for 3 years now.

This response submitted by Kim on 11/10/05 at 5:40 PM. ( )

We have tanned everything in ours and we like the results we get. We have tried several different tanning crystals and the best we have found is the Arrowhead Tanning Crystals. We get the stretch we need. We can rough flesh and turn everything, tan for 2 hours, shave, tan another 2 hours and it's ready to mount. We have heard people that didn't like the auto tanner, but we use ours daily. Good Luck!


This response submitted by wilson on 11/10/05 at 6:34 PM. ( )

I have owned 3 auto-tanners ; i realy like it for iffy things, but it is alum and i don't like that.

A nice thing about one is you can get a cape in in the morning and it
can be mounted and on the wall that same day ;but it's alum.

jrosbor , you forget with a auto tanner you don;t salt ;time and one $
saveing on salt.
If you make your own Tanning Crystals ,it cost less then $ 1.00 a cape to tan.

My big thing is , if you tan them all you need to frez tell you mount or freez then put in the auto tanner.
I like to salt and store tell i'm ready to tan and mount; i already have 5 frez running all the time.

Making your own tanning crystals

This response submitted by Ducky on 11/10/05 at 7:08 PM. ( )

What is your recipe to make you own tanning crystals?


This response submitted by wilson on 11/10/05 at 7:31 PM. ( )

off the top of my head i can't remember but i did put in in the Archives ; use the search key.

If you cant find it, let me know and i'll find it.It comes out closer to $.50 a lb.

Tanning Crystal formula for auto-tanners

This response submitted by wilson on 11/10/05 at 7:46 PM. ( )

100lb alum
90lb salt
5lb sodium carbonate

you can break it down to smaller amounts.
this is what's in steve's Tanning Crystals.
You can also add oil in the tanner but i seldom do.
I think all the sodium carbonate does is rise the ph to about 4. ,but thats only my opinion.


This response submitted by Mark on 11/10/05 at 9:15 PM. ( mtmmvruno@lakeland.ws )

Kim, We have had ours for about 5 years. I won't switch to another type of tan. It has saved alot of money in those 5 years and tanned everything under the sun. This type of tan allows you to shave very thin which I like giving the hide more stretch and very little shrinkage. good luck,Mark

Oh mr. Wilson...

This response submitted by jrosbor on 11/10/05 at 10:07 PM. ( huntersdream3x@hotmail.com )

I also don't need to salt capes. Thats why I say "with a good acid and aux." I add an auxiliary to my pickle to "speed" things up a bit (STOP-ROT). Actualy a deer cape is fully pickled in about 24hrs. and another 14 hrs to tan. Like I said I can have 10 capes tanned in two days! And they are NOT cheap tans! I don't care for the idea of tanning with alum even if it is cheaper. Hell why do a cheap tan if you are spending $1500.00 on a machine?

Here is my schedule,
1. Turn and rough flesh
3. Pre Pickle for about an hour
5. Pickle in leatherizing acid about 24hrs (make sure it's pickled through)
6. Buffer
7. Tan (for this case I will be using Lutan F with 10% Pickle Oil from Knobloch chemicals)
8. Swab (at this point the cape is like a sponge and is allmost mount ready)
9. Sweat for 8hrs or so.

all of this happens in about two days!
The tan is awesom! Joe

Be careful

This response submitted by mrdux on 11/10/05 at 10:08 PM. ( mrdux@refugemail.com )

I bought a small size AT from Steve a couple of years ago. It has saved me tons of time and some capes that I might have lost. One thing to keep in mind; you will be temped to put a cape in at quitting time and de-pressure it when you start back up. I was doing this on a regular basis and couldn't figure why I couldn't get near enough stretch when I knew my initial measurements were true. IMO I was over-tanning the skins and actually shrinking them. I now make sure I have the capes out of the tanner at the prescribed times and don't leave them in any more than that. It does make the capes plump up better than any method I have used so I can get a good shave that thins them as good as I'm capable.


This response submitted by wilson on 11/10/05 at 10:50 PM. ( )

A big mistake I always see is, to call things crap before and without ever using them and to argue with someone you need to educate first.
Neither alum or the autotanner are my first choice most of the time but they both have a place in my shop.
enjoy your evning
btw lutan also has alum in it as does krowtan

Question for Wilson

This response submitted by Kim on 11/11/05 at 12:32 AM. ( )

Your mixture for the tanning crystals....you said is the same as Steves, which crystals? He had 2 different kinds. Do you know the mixture for both types?


This response submitted by Kevin M on 11/11/05 at 7:40 AM. ( kssmcclure@wmconnect.com )

Did anybody read the new Taxidermy Today. They say the auto tanner is well worth the money. Nobody mention the crystals Van Dykes sells for the auto tanner. Very lnexpensive.Are they they same as Steve's?

Van Dykes

This response submitted by Kim on 11/11/05 at 11:59 AM. ( )

I haven't tried them, but I have been told by other taxidermist that tried it and said they didn't get any stretch at all with the Van Dykes crystals.

Hold the phones!

This response submitted by jrosbor on 11/11/05 at 5:42 PM. ( huntersdream3x@hotmail.com )

I never said the auto tanner was crap. I said why use a cheap tan if you are using a $1500.00 machine? $1.00 per cape? Why? Do you have any Idea how much money I spend a year trying to get the right combo of acid, tan, oil?
IMO, Krowtan is crap! Not saying it doesn't work. Lutan F is aluminum chloride. This is NOT a sulfide! It will NOT have the same dry rot as other alum tans! Aluminum is not what causes the problems in the first place.

I also said I "Don't" own one. Never said I haven't used one.
I am very educated in the arts of making leather. And you are dead on the money, Sodium carbonate will raise the pH.
I am not saying any thing bad about any thing or any one. I am saying I don't care for them. I like my system. Joe


This response submitted by wilson on 11/11/05 at 6:51 PM. ( )

You just switched to your new tan in june [been here a long time and read all the posts] and before you were useing ez tan, i was wondering if you were losing a lot of capes or you'r thinking the stop rot is giving you more stretch?
btw, krowtan has aluminum chloride in it.

I actualy...

This response submitted by jrosbor on 11/11/05 at 7:55 PM. ( huntersdream3x@hotmail.com )

switched just before that... (I belive the post you are refering to says "For some time now") But any way. I still use EZ-Tan. Never stopped using it! I also use Lutan F, curatan, liqua-tan, WTDS, JRTS, Mckinze tan, and some others too. I don't get extra stretch from STOP-ROT or any thing else for that matter. And yes I was loosing a lot of capes to chemical slippage. Hence the STOP-ROT.
Krowtann is just flat out too touchy for me. I like tans that have some room for human error. Krowtann works! Never said it didn't nor did I claim to know it's contents. I do know it is advertised as an alum tan. When I did use it I didn't follow the directions to a "T" and lost the cape. (used a brick to hold the cape down) This is my ground for stating "In my opinion Krowtann is crap"

I am not trying to open a can of worms here, Just trying to give my knowledge about the subject at hand. Joe

And... Yes.

This response submitted by jrosbor on 11/11/05 at 10:41 PM. ( huntersdream3x@hotmail.com )

I do agree. There are some things that every shop should have. I am not sure if the auto tanner is one of them. IMHO, If it works for you. Then give it praise and keep using it! Thats what I do. Joe


This response submitted by anthony on 11/12/05 at 11:17 AM. ( )

I was just wandering when did Krowtann advertise itself as a alum tann Ive only seen it called that on here mostly by anti's and mis. informers. And a little heads up a brick will skrew up the ph in whatever you put it in.

Yes Anthony

This response submitted by David Patton on 11/13/05 at 7:47 AM. ( )

A brick can do that. I think Joe was well educated in that post about what the brick did to his pH.

Alum tans are knocked around here quite a bit, but there are ways to tan with alum based chemistry and not have the acid rot that people broadbrush the alum tan about. Without giving out too many secrets in a competitve setting, an alum tan is not the bad guy that it is portrayed as here in the forums. I think that many people have had bad experiences with tanners that were trying to minimize their operating costs and cut corners in their processes.

A good dresser knows how to use an alum tan to his advantage. Going with the cheapest tan can get you in trouble down the road if you don't take all proper precautions with the chemistry and use the correct ingredients combined with the proper amounts at the right time in the process. The right chemical, at the right time in the right amounts.

Ask yourself "how does the garment industry make their garments last years and years with alum tans?" The chemistry can be used in the taxidermy trade and the tanner can still make money, just not as much. But the hides will not fall apart when they hit the water 10 years down the road. I offer a washable tan that is either gluteraldehyde or alum based, depends on what I am tanning. The trick is knowing how to stabilize the tan within the matrix of the leather so it doesn't wash out later.

That is all I can offer for now. Later when I criticize other tanners for acid rot in their alum tans, I will probably be slammed with a cut and paste that is out of context from what I am trying to get across here in this post.

Have a good day!


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