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Tanning assistance on a problem ?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by timstaxidermy, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. timstaxidermy

    timstaxidermy Member

    hi everyone,
    wondering if i done something wrong or what i could do to prevent this .
    tanning a ground hog, salted for 4 days til fairly stiff.
    put in pickle with safety acid and salt for two days with ph in the red at 1 to 1.5
    removed from pickle washed out with baking soda .
    let hang while i mixed up the lutan f.
    used a 3 gallon mix 24 oz. salt 3 oz of lutan.
    let hog sit in 18 hours.
    removed washed and towel dried off.
    mounted up ground hog.
    now problem is some slippage on ears, some on knuckles but most of all the mounted eyes
    have a whitish salt residue around them even after i wash them with a paper towel.
    did i do something wrong .. to much salt?/
    should have washed all the pickle out before putting in soda ??
    any thoughts.
    also working on a bear tomorrow, can i remove the skull from the bear thats thawing out
    as its a head mount.
    can i put it in a pickle instead of salting for 4 days...
    any ideas would be great..
  2. Tim, first you need to re-hydrate the skin, don't put a salted skin into the pickle, see Aubrey's post a little ways down. your pickle shouldn't have been a problem, but would have done much better if it had been re-hydrated. The ear slippage could have been from handling before hand, if you left the bones in the toes that most likely would be the cause of that slippage.

    I'm not sure what the "bucket" mix for Lutan is, we use skin weights and percentages for all tans, but there is a correct starting pH for Lutan, as well as correct finishing pH, you need to search the archives for comments on what has worked well for others, if you didn't finish it out at the right pH you'll get the salt bumps much worse, and yes, a little better rinsing would probably help too.

    Salt your bear, don't go straight in the pickle, when you re-hydrate it you will wash a lot of the grease, blood, non tannables etc. out of the skin and get much better results.

  3. bluetaxi69

    bluetaxi69 New Member

  4. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your groundhog probably isn't tanned, AT ALL. You successfully pickled it, but that's about it. I'm not busting your chops, but your WHOLE process was flawed.

    1. You shouldn't neutralize a skin, before tanning with a cationic tan, like Lutan. You can rinse it after pickling, but that's about it. Any degreasing should have also been done, prior to the tan step, also.
    2. You didn't degrease? Yes, you should have. If the tan was used properly, it wouldn't have worked anyway, because you failed to degrease.
    3. shaving? Yes you should have. At least wire wheeled the skin, to break up the connective tissue, to help with degreasing, and tan penetration.
    4. Oiling? Yes, you should. I will be surprised if the skin doesn't drum like crazy!

    You seemed to have confused the neutralizing step for most paint-on tans(usually anionic), with a submersible tan(almost always cationic in Taxidermy).

    Your Lutan tan, doesn't really have a neutralization step, as we know it. It has a FIXING step, which also bring the pH up to an exceptable level for the skins longevity. Lutan fixes, or locks on to the skin fibers, around a pH of 5, give or take .25. You should have added your soda to the tanning bath, a little at a time, until your pH hit 5. Your skin never had a chance for the tan to"fix", because the pH was probably too low.

    A groundhog, like a fox, is notorious for being easy to slip. Keith mentioned a re hydration. With that critter, it MUST be fast, or they will slip, almost every time. Add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar, and 1/4lb salt per gallon of water, for your re hydration. About 3 hours, is as long as I would go. I wouldn't add any degrease, to rehydrate these skins, either. Degrease during the pickle. Its a pH thing. Have a good one! Lightly salt, before you even start fleshing, next time.
  5. timstaxidermy

    timstaxidermy Member

    thanks guys for the excellent advice.
    tomorrow im working on a bear shoulder mount for a customer and wondering
    how to add point a to b etc.
    could i get some advice from you oldshaver as you seem to be a very knowledgable person
    on the tanning procedures and the correct prodacal.
    tks. tim.
  6. timstaxidermy

    timstaxidermy Member

    I usually dont ask for much assistance usually giving it out but this tanning is something new to me.
    im getting behind waiting for my bear rugs and other stuff to get completed in a timely manner.
    i used amys post on tanning with lutan in the archives to go as a guide for this ground hog tan
    so , iv roughly shaved this bear head , put it out in the garage and salted it up with nice
    cattle salt.
    how long should it remain in this state. til i resalt and let it get completly stiff.
    then rehydrate it with salt and water later"?.
    so i used to use a baking soda to remove the acid from a pickled skin. am i correct in assuming
    its not required when using the lutan method?
    just get the tanning solution to a ph of around 5 and soak for the time using a skin weight to
    lutan ratio?
  7. Tim, I was trying to be nice, but since Aubrey said it, yes, you need to completely scrap that whole tanning process and start from scratch. If bear rug time is your problem for wanting to tan yourself, you would be best to adjust your turn around time you quote to your customers and let a commercial tannery do your bears.

    A day under the first salt is fine, then you can re-salt. After a couple more days pull the skin up and hang it to get air, if you leave a salted skin too long, and the conditions are such that it gets warm and doesn't dry you run the chance of pink mold while it's under salt, and that pretty much means the hair is going to slip. Re-hydrate later.

    No, don't neutralise a pickled skin when you're using Lutan, the tan needs to start about 3.0, as the pH of the skin gets up to 4.0 the tan bonds (fixes) When you neutralize a skin before it goes in the tan the pH of the skin will cause the tan to bond on the surface, giving you a surface tan and leaving you a skin that's basically just pickled in the center.

    24 hr's is long enough in the tan even doing it static, but take several hours or more to neutralize it. you can go to 5.0 on the pH if you want, I know that's what many of the guru's say, but we use it every day and my opinion is that's too high, at about 4.5 you'll notice your skin starting to get a stiff, heavy scratchy feel.
  8. i am confused now, lol. I use this same method to tan, i am far from a pro, so i just follow instructions, and THEY say flesh, salt, pickle, NEUTRALIZE, degrease, tan, rinse, drain, oil. In that order.

  9. Well, there's a lot of opinions out there on how to use Lutan, the vast majority are a very poor way of using it. I've ran a shop using it for years, Not sure if Aubrey worked with Lutan, but I know he worked with a mineral tan that acts much the same way, and we are both pretty much saying the same thing. Van Dykes is a supply house that got a formula from somebody, and BASF won't give you formulas so to speak, so I guess it's a decision you need to make, if it's been working fine for you maybe you just want to leave it alone?
  10. timstaxidermy

    timstaxidermy Member

    Thanks a lot Keith for the info,
    Now that we have someone that knows the lutan method can you PLEASE
    EXPLAIN the procedure from salting the hide to ready to mount so everyone
    on this website is on the same page .
    i know everyone has different chemicals they like and thats fine and just
    i have the following available to use for this tanning adventure..
    salt, lutanf, skin prep(knobl kind)safety acid, dawn detergent, methol hydrate,
    these i have in my shop and are available.
    Anything else i may need to buy just add to the method.
    Again, tks so much for your assistance in this matter.
  11. Basic steps for Lutan in your shop, this is keeping it simple.

    Rehydrate, Aubrey has that covered not too far down.

    Pickle, use whatever acid you use and are comfortable with. Don't crowd the skin in the pickle, try to use about 5 gal. per deer cape so you can move it and have plenty of acid, especially if you use citric.

    48 to 72 hours it should be ready to shave if you rehydrate it well first, if it's still a little stiff you'll need to shave then return to pickle.

    For something that needs degreased, do this after shaving, some degrease in the pickle, I reccomend a separate degreasing bath, get a regular degreaser made for tanning and just follow their recommendations, leave the dawn under the kitchen sink.

    Go back in your pickle several hours at least to get the pH back down.

    To use Lutan by skin weight go with 6%, that would be about 5.75 oz for an average northern deer cape. 5/8 lb salt per gallon. Your pH will vary depending on your float (amount of water to weight of skins) you'll need to check it, and add acid to bring it down to your starting point of about 3.0, your skin pH will be below that and your solution will drop a couple tenths after the skins are in.

    Agitate well, especially the first couple hours, so tan gets presented everywhere and folds don't get missed.

    After 24 hrs start to basify, you'll have to play with the amount of bicarb to match your volume, try to start slow, after a few tans you should be able to figure out approximately how much you need to bring the pH up in 3 to 4 feeds, do this about an hour between feeds and stir well. Personally I wouldn't go over 4.5, after you have reached this point leave it about an hour, then drain well, rinse in clear water ( don't soak, just rinse) let it drip overnight with no skin exposed then swab the next day, roll up over night, then proceed how ever you normally do, dry, drum, freeze etc.

    That's it in a nutshell, and I'm sure there are others that will say I'm clueless, that's why I was hesitant to put anything down.

    remember, tanning is like playing with dominoes, each one (step) has to be right for the next one to fall, starting right from properly re hydrating.

    Hope this helps
  12. thanks for the help kieth, i will try your way next time
  13. timstaxidermy

    timstaxidermy Member

    tks keith
    thats a very good explanation of whats to be done and i really appreciate it...
    dont be afraid to say what you are thinking as i know some just go on here to critisize what
    others are saying and doing.
    if we all help one another in this way we all will win in the long run.
    If i try to help someone and i make a mistake or something im glad when someone has
    a opinion thats maybe better than mine and i can learn from them as well.
    Every taxidermist seems to have a tanning method that differs and i think what ever has
    worked for them in the past is the route they want to stay on.
    im just learning to drive on this tanning stuff but i do have a lot of knowledge and ability
    when the taxidermy comes in.
    iv been doing it for 30 plus years now and im still learning things.
  14. G"Day all here is the recipe that works for me
    Salt well twice until hide begins to stiffen,
    Rehydrate unti skin softensl
    Pickle - 100 litres water , 8 kg salt , 1 kg acid ( formic 85 %) or util a ph of 1,8 - 2 is obtained this enough for 20kg draind salted hide.
    Add skins to pickle solution the ph will need to be adjusted over the next 3-4 days , 20kg of green skins will need approx another 1 kg of acid to be added during this time, shave skins to required thickness,
    Make tanning solution as follows , Based on drained wet weight of skins , 500% water 40 % salt 8 % lutan f disolved in a small qty hot water, adjust this solution to a ph of 4,
    Remove skins from pickle & drain, now place in a smaller solution as per the pickle but without the acid , after 20 mins adjust ph of this solution to 3. allow to soak for 20 mins then remove & drain then add skins to tan solution stir hourly for the next 6 hrs if possible. I find the tan time varies according to temperature 10 deg C 48 hrs , 15 deg C 36 hrs , 20 deg C 24 hrs, Afer required time slowly ( over an hour or so ) basify solution ph to 5 using bicarb dissolved in water, allow to stand for 2 -3 hrs ,remove & rinse in cool clear running water then drain. tumble in saw dust for 15 mins then in a cage for 15 mins then oil, I use proplus , protal or coripol dx 902 fold flesh side to flesh side then roll up allow to sweat for a minimum of 24 hrs then repeat both tumbling processes
    capes can now be mounted or flat skins allowed to dry further prior to breaking.
    If you dont know or are unsure keep asking ! Cheers Peter - Northern Taxidermy & Skins ( Australia )