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Rittel's EZ-100 turned out hard and stiff

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Graham Parish, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    I just tanned my first batch of hides with Rittel’s EZ-100 and they didn’t turn out very well. I hope someone can help troubleshoot what went wrong because I’m determined to get it right.

    Our batch was 13 muskrats and 2 coons, fleshed and flint dried. We used Ultra-Soft relaxer, Safetee acid pickle for 5 days, neutralized, tanned 22hrs. Kept a careful watch on the pH of both the pickle (less than 2.0) and tan (4.0-4.2). We worked hard to break them as they dried. The hides are tanned but not very soft at all, they are crinkly and noisy when you bend them. They are flexible enough you can turn them right-side out and back again, but they don’t drape well, or feel nice enough to sew with, which was my intention.

    So here are some thoughts: how soft can EZ-100 make the leather? Are my expectations too high? I have heard this stuff is some of the best, and one of the tans professionals use.

    Should we have stopped part way the pickling step and fleshed the saddle from the muskrats after the hair was locked in?

    Did we over-work the hides breaking them, or start too early? As soon as the faces and edges started to stretch white, we started breaking them. As long as the hides started to feel a bit sticky to the touch and would stretch slightly white, we pulled a little and hung them back up. We kept at this all day, also rolling them over the sharp backside edge of the fleshing beam. This helped break up the saddle and turn the leather white. They just never got soft.

    Did we over-tan, and how would I know? I was confused about the formula. ½ gal water, 3 oz. salt and ½ oz. of EZ-100. is that oz. by weight or dry volume? I assumed dry volume for those and liquid volume for the acid and Ultra-Soft. After neutralizing we very thoroughly rinsed, and mixed the tan. We weighed 9lbs of wet drained hides => 4.5gallons water, about 4 cups of salt, and 1 1/8 cups of tan. Does that sound right for 13 rats and 2 coon? I read the package instructions and also Amy’s, but they were a little different, and ounces are different by volume and weight.

    After mixing the tan, the pH read 7.0 which was alarmingly high. I had already put my pickling acid away so I had to use more than a quart of white vinegar to bring it down before adding the hides.

    Thanks for the help. There’s a lot of knowledge out here that helped me get this far.
  2. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    Their first season. This is why I'm asking!

    Attached Files:

  3. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    ok You don't say if you hydrated them all the way or for how long?
    Did you degrease them?
    % days of pickling is not needed total of 4 days is even more than enough for a thin hide. I hydrate fully, pickle for three days, shave, degrease, back in the pickle overnight. Next day. drain, neutralize for 20 minutes for those critters, rinse and then tan followed by oiling.
    The time you did 22 hours is way over done. They would have been tanned in 12-14 hours. I have never tanned any thing over 16-18 hours and that's for bear deer elk etc. I drain them then rinse then oil. The hides do come out nice and soft.................

    The recipe for your hides should have been 4.5 gallons of water 2.25 lbs of salt, 4 1/2 oz of ez-100. That would have tanned it.
    Using 1 1/18 cups of tan was a no no. That's what put the Ph up so high. It should have read any where from 4-5 depending on the waters Ph. So here was another mix up for you.

    Hope this helps you out.
    Bruce's recipe is real simple 1 gallon of water to an ounce of tan to 1/2 gallon of salt.
  4. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    we rehydrated them in Ultra-soft and salt for about 24hrs, they were nice and soft when done. no hard spots.

    I didn't degrease the muskrats, there just wasn't much fat there. I did take the coons out on day 3 and wash with dish soap and then returned them to the pickle. Would you shave on a muskrat?

    12 or 16 or 20 or 24 hours? If it is time sensitive how do I know how when they're done? Can you tell by looking?

    Is that 4 1/2 oz by weight? I'm still confused on that.

    Frank, Please say that again: 1 gallon of water to an ounce of tan to 1/2 gallon of salt?

    I figured when the pH started at 7.0 that my mixture was screwed up but the recipe is still unclear to me.
  5. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    I didn't see any where in your post where you mention anything about oiling the skin after tanning.... If you didn't oil that's most of your problem
  6. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    good question and sorry I forgot that. Yes, I used the oil in the EZ-100 kit, 2 parts hot tap water to 1 part oil, applied it liberally, turned them right side out and rolled up for 6hrs. Unrolled them and let the fur side dry awhile, then started drying the inside.
  7. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Are you using a scale to weigh your salt and ez-100? If not you need to get one! It is 4 1/2 ounces for that amount of water. You can over tan a cape and cape that thin you don't need any more than 12 hours.

    To check and see if the hide is tanned you can cut a sliver of skin off and it will have the same silvery color right through.
  8. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    No I am not using a scale. I do have one but here's what the instructions from Tasco's says, right out of the box:

    "For every 1 lb of wet drained weight, mix:
    2 quarts water
    1/2 oz. of EZ-100 (2 level tablespoonfuls = 1/2 oz.)
    4 ozs. of salt"

    9lbs wet drained weight = 18 Tablespoons which is 1 1/8 cups in 4 1/2 gallons of water. The pH was 7.0, which was crazy high but I couldn't see what I'd done wrong. Are those instructions the same ratio you would use?

    I may have put in too much salt. Can that cause a problem?

    Maybe we just left them in too long. The instructions says the leave in 16-20 hours. We had to run to town before 16hrs and couldn't get back until 22hrs so that's why they were in that long. Also didn't know any way to tell if they were done.

    Thanks for the help, my boys are looking forward to trying again.
  9. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    This Is my experience from home tanning and ending up with a soft dry tanned skin .. I cam get good results with thin skinned animals such as foxes, Bobcats and even they need thinning around the neck to get a soft skin... I would say a lot of you problem was not shaving the skin thin enough muskrat skins are fairly thick skins
    Bob likes this.
  10. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    I guess we'll try again then, shaving the saddle flesh off after a couple days in the pickle. We'll tan for a lot less time too, maybe just 12 hrs.

    I still can't figure out what caused the pH to be 7.0 when I mixed the tan. My water is around 7.5 or a bit higher. It's well water, a bit hard but I've seen worse. The pH of the tan should have been 4-5.

    I wouldn't have thought anyone would have called muskrat skins fairly thick! I tore a hole under the throat while breaking, and it was about .010" thick there!
  11. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    No I use a scale and that what should be used................................ I never had a ph of 7 the highest I ever got in all the years using it is 5. Your best bet is to get a scale and do it the right way.
  12. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    we'll try again and measure by weight. I'll weigh some tan and see how it compares to the 4T per oz. conversion. Thanks for the suggestions.
  13. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    Just one more question since I'm getting ready to start over again with more skins. Do you recommend degreasing all furbearers? I kind of thought that might be just for bears, beavers, coon, just the real greasy ones. Or should I really do that for muskrat, mink, fox, coyote too? Tonight I'll start relaxing some muskrat and mink.

    Also is there much difference between Enzol B and Ultra Soft when relaxing these thin furs? What is your preference. Thanks.
  14. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    By fairly thick I meant the neck and down the back of the skin... Are you trying to tan air dried or salt dried skins ...salt dried are going to rehydrate much easier... Air dried skins sometimes have a thin surface layer that is hard to rehydrate you must break up this layer to get a soft skin I use a wire wheel on a grinder to accomplish this.,so the chemicals can penetrate
  15. dbronco

    dbronco Member

    I normally use an in-the-pickle degreaser with all furbearers and a separate degreasing bath for fattier animals. Also, I oil skins that I want to be soft 3 different times as the hide dries. This should help quite a bit.
  16. Graham Parish

    Graham Parish New Member

    These are all air dried. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try to work them in.
  17. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    yes I would degrease them but not in the pickle for that only makes the pickle greasy.
  18. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    I up dated my last post with some info on air dried skins that may help
  19. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Hi Graham!

    All tanned skins have 25% Water locked into them by the Oil and Tan. After tanning them in your solution, perhaps they did hang a little too long, and when you tried to work them soft, they were already too dry and now you have that dry, crinkly finish you described. Try this to relax the skins and get more water back into them.

    Make up a Relaxing solution using 1 Gallon of Water and 4 Ozs. of Salt/each 1 Gallon of water used. Soak the skins in this for 30 minutes. They wont relax but they will retain water from the soak. Now use a black plastic garbage bag, place the load of furs in it, tie it off, and put it in a Frig (not freezer) overnight. The next day the load should be soft and relaxed. Now do the drying process over, and when the skins approach 95% dry , take them down and work them soft.

    I've come across this problem before in a Tannery. They left the skins in the Drum too long, and some of that 25% of water was lost. The only way to rectify it, is to resoak them and again, try to rework them soft.

    To me, this sounds a lot like you may have let the skins dry after Oiling, and they were hung too long before you began working them soft.

    Also - Try to avoid "rolling" skins while tanning them. Rolling doesn't allow the Water in them to easily drain away from them. I always "fold" them. Even when I freeze them - folding allows them to thaw faster, with no "ice cube" in the center of the roll.

    Send me a PM on how the skins do, the second time "softening".

    Bruce Rittel