Salting or directly to Picle or Tan?

Submitted by Alex Smith on 9/29/99. ( )

My question is . What diference does it makes if a fresh skin is
put directly to the picle solution agitating periodicaly the skin to
penetrate the picle or as usual salting and after 2 or 3 days
rehidrate and picle .
What benefit does the salt do to the skin ( set the hair / stop
baceria growth ), a friend of mine doesn´t saltthe skins when he
recives them fresh . We had a discusion but i couldnt respond
as cientificaly i dont know. He uses bacteriacide in the picle and
as far as he said he doesn´t have any problems. By the way I always
salt the skins , please explain the above question.

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This response submitted by Mark on 9/29/99. ( )

Dear Alex, I believe that salt lowers the Ph in the skin is the reason why you salt before pickling. Ask Bruce Rittel he will tell you to always salt and rehydrate before you pickle. His e-mail is Good Luck, Mark

Dry them first!!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 9/29/99. ( )

Mark is right. Have you ever wondered why Tanneries are so successful considering some of the "garbage" they recieve? The answer is obvious - you send them dried skins! Even an air dried skin will be nice and tightly set - and once they rehydrate it - it remains tight! Salted skins are even better. Once the flesh is impregnated with the salt - its simple to disolve it back out and the skin relaxes easily. Although Air dried skins take a little patience. Another benefit of Salting is that it helps "leach" out all the undesirable liquids still in the skin before you tan it! It also acts as a temporary preservative too! I've also seen some Tanners throw the skins directly in the Pickle - and maybe you will get away it - ON SOME SKINS! But on the risky skins, you will definately see problems in the form of slip spots! Since we never know how the skin or cape was really handled - why take a chance - salt and dry them all hard! I hate repairs - even if only once in a while!

Here goes.

This response submitted by Kenneth on 10/1/99. ( )

I have asked this exact question to many taxidermists for many years. For years, I have tried a several different methods of in-shop tanning. I understand what Bruce is telling you. (Bruce is as close to an expert as I know) Salt will inhibit many species of bacteria from growth. More than anything it removes the moisture, which is vital for bacteria growth. I have tried drying capes partially and completely, with good results both ways. For the past couple of years, I have taken the froozen cape and dropped it straight into a pickle. Believe it or not this seems to give me, my best results. I have done skins that I was possitive would slip and they made it. Salt normally reads neutral on the pH scale, so I am not for sure about lowering the pH. Salt is one of the best known buffers, it will maintain a specific pH and that is why we use it in our pickles. Salt may kill some bacterial species, but some just form endospores until environmental conditions are appropriate once again. On the other hand strong acids (below 3) tend to kill many species of bacteria. It opens the pores of the hide by breaking down undesirable proteins and fat. I am sure many will disagree with my practices, but the things I was hearing didn't quite agree with all the studies I have had in Biology and Chemistry. I have a degree in one and a minor in the other. I am not for sure all the time spent air drying capes is beneficial to the skin. It seem to be inviting periods of bacterial growth. Do we salt the hair side? What is happening while the salt is penetrating? Bacterial growth? What happens when you rehydrate it? Bacterial endospores rupture and release the genes for the growth of new colonies. The question is a hard one and a tricky one. I believe you will have to experiment and see what works best in your area of the country. I believe humidity would play a major role in your experients. Don't get me wrong, drying is by far best, when it involves commercial tanneries. Setting of the hair is one benefit, but I am not for sure acid pickles don't have a similar effect. I would also like to know an answer to this question, besides "you've got to do it, because a taxidermist wiser than me said so." ??????????????

Thanks, Mark, Bruce and Kenneth

This response submitted by Alex on 10/1/99. ( )

Thanks for all your responses , now i have a more clear view of this
if i try this way i will wash and use bacteriacide first.

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