Rehydrating salted hides??

Submitted by Steve A. on 4/30/99. ( )

I was wondering what is a better way to rehydrate a dry salted hide prior to pickling.. I have used cold water with a couple of capfuls of lysol added. I have also read where many people add up to two pounds of salt per gallon of water in this rehydration solution. Which is the better solution to use? I talked to another taxidermist who said the extra salt would slow down the rehydrating process. Also why does the skin need to be soft and pliable prior to putting it in a pickle solution? What is wrong with partially rehydrating the skin in the pickle? Sorry for all the ignorant questions. As you can tell I'm still a green horn tanner. Thanks Bruce Rittel. I have been reading your articles religiously in Breakthrough Magazine.

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The Pickle won't soften it much!

This response submitted by Bruce Rittel on 4/30/99. ( )

If the cape isn't relaxed BEFORE going into the pickle, it really wont relax much more in it. So, it has to be done prior to pickling. The pickle is expected to firm up the cape and hold it intact, it usually will not contribute much to relaxing the cape. And yes, I've also heard a wide variety of relaxing methods too! However, most of the Tanneries I've dealt with use either 1 of 2 methods. They prefer a Salt brine, using 2-4 Lbs. of Salt per 1 Gl. of water, or they use a Commercial relaxing agent like our US-609 - but usually for only the difficult skins like air drieds and africans. The Salt DOES NOT SLOW DOWN Rehydration - in fact it tends to open up the fibers, by ionizing and penetrating the fibers, hence "opening up" and causing the skin to return to a more "just skinned" state. If you like shaving a nice plump cape - relax it in the relaxing bath, and not the pickle.

I Don't Agree

This response submitted by keith Daniels on 5/1/99. ( )

Steve, this happens to be one of the few times I don't agree with Bruce on methods. My exoerience is you'll get a much better re-hydrated skin, much faster without the salt. No the skin won't finish relaxing as well in the pickle if it's not completely re-hydrated, but it will overtime. To me the salt is the problem with slowing down re-hydration. If you rehydrate in a solution with some acid, say 3.5 to 4.0 ph, your skin will relax better than if it was in plain water, but I wouldn't do that on anything but on anything except something severe like greaseburnt skins. The acid swells the skin, alowwing fluids in to loosen it up, the salt balances the "pressure" to keep the acid from swelling it too much and causing the skin to come apart.

I get your question form my customers who do their own deer capes on a regular basis. It's always the same, my skins won't loosen up in the pickle, and I don't get any stretch out of them. After going to a salt free re-hydration and leaving them until they are completely rehydrated, everyone of them has had an easier to shave skin that took the tan better and mounted easier. My advice, use the re-hydrator if you feel you need one, but do it with no salt and leave them until they are as limp as a green skin, then pickle. Keith


This response submitted by Dusty Hill on 11/17/99. ( )

In addition to what you responded to above, if a hide has not been rehydrated before being placed in the pickling solution, what can you do to correct this mistake? I did not rehydrate and the hide has been in the pickling solution for about 10 hours. Thanks, Dusty

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