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Rehydration bath- salt or no salt?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Rhino, May 19, 2017.

  1. Rhino

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

    Do you use salt? Some say yes, some say no. Life doesn't always give you a freshly salted skin.

    You have a elk cape that is slipping bad. You decide it needs replacing. You purchase a dry salted cape. You receive the cape and discover it is literally 3/4 to 1" thick in some areas and is super hard. Obviously it's been dried for close to a year or more to get this hard! How will you handle this situation?
     
  2. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    I'll play. I don't add salt to rehydrate a salt dried cape or skin, I do add a degreaser/relaxer though. From what I understand and seems to make sense is that, if you add more salt, it will slow the rehydration process. There is likely a bunch of residual salt on the hair and skin to make the bath a brine solution that helps to impede bacteria growth. I have and do use a salt brine to thaw some things such as cow, buffalo and bear hides that come in frozen and it works, but those are unsalted raw, frozen skins.
     

  3. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    LMAO. Aubrey, you KNOW what I do. When I absolutely MUST buy a salt dried or even a flint dried hide, it's in the box and and on the way to be professionally tanned.
     
  4. Rhino

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

    I was just fixing to fix that option George! You beat me too it! Have to admit, probably the best options- send it out, or call AAA Animal Exchange and buy one already tanned.....LOL My first call would be Ann at Sivko to see what they have in stock? LOL

    All kidding aside, let's add this scenario- you're under big time restraints, and you don't want to pay a tannery rush charge.
     
  5. Rhino

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

    3bears, have you ever had a skin like I am speaking of? Maybe a gemsbok you could drive nails with? I can see where your method is ok on fairly fresh skins. Not my cup of tea, but that's just my opinion.

    How long in your estimation will rehydration take on this type of skin. Of course, this is all hypothetical.
     
  6. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    With the luck I've had with tanneries as of late, other than bears, my answer doesn't change.
    No I have not had them that hard too often as I am the one that salts them. I have had a deer cape dried for 2 years and rehydrated it and it was good enough within 8 hours and tanned up fine. I'm sure it was rehydrated sooner, I just got busy and kind of forgot about it.
    What's your cup of tea? I'm listening.
     
  7. Rhino

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

    Skins like this will NEVER rehydrate during the course of a workday. Basically, you have two choices. You either go ahead and put it in pickle long before its rehydrated, or you leave it in rehydration.

    Some interesting things I have been reading on bacteria.
    1. One bacterium under optimum conditions, can theoretically multiply to over one BILLION in 10 hours.
    2. A salt level of just 10% , which is close to the 1/4 lb per gallon standard, will greatly interfere with bacteria reproduction.
    3. A pH of 4 will inhibit most bacteria growth, and start killing most bacteria.

    Knowing this skin is going to take overnight or more to rehydrate, what can you do to get close to a total rehydration, without jeopardizing the skin? I guess you could do it the hard way, and keep pulling the skin in and out of pickle, cutting down the thickest areas, then putting the skin back in pickle, but you're probably going to at least double the pickle time. Wasting time.

    There are many areas of tanning that require "process flexibility ". Just like neutralization, one size doesn't fit all, if you're using your head. What about now? I'm trying to get some suggestions on what could be added to this particular rehydration bath to safely allow this skin to stay an extended time in the bath. Protection.
     
  8. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Does making the water "Wetter" with a low Ph soap help expedite the rehydration as well as keep bacteria at bay? What about agitation?
     
  9. furtanshop

    furtanshop New Member

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    I would and have used 2 to 4 grams of formaldehyde per liter of water. I have keep freezer burnt deer capes in this solution for over a week

    zero hair loss
     
  10. TIMBUCK

    TIMBUCK Active Member

    I would use 1/2 ounce of Atesan LPW per gallon of water and add a little Formic acid(keep above a 5ph for penetration) and about a 1/4 pound of salt per gallon. Soak for 48 hrs and check it.'longer if needed...

    Now we're did I screw up?
     
  11. Rhino

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

    The pH of degrease, as well as most surfactants is on the upper side of the pH scale. Yes it helps a great deal. You were also correct earlier about the fact that the more salt you use, the slower the rehydration. Agitation would be great if you had a round drum like tanneries have. They will work wonders for speeding up the rehydration, and all other steps for that matter. To each their own, but, I think 1/4 lb salt should be added to any rehydration bath. Slows bacteria growth, and will prevent osmotic swell to some degree.

    Monte, I'm kinda scared of formaldehyde, and would use a different bactericide if I thought I needed one. Never used one any place I was employed, nor was there any formaldehyde on the premises. LOL

    I would like to hear more opinions, but here is what I would do.

    I know this skin is going to be a problem to rehydrate, and is going to have to stay in the rehydration bath overnight and at least a good portion of the next day.
    1. Use a surfactant and keep the water warm when possible.
    2. Add just enough acid to bring the pH down to 4 to help fight bacteria growth, or add a tried and true bactericide. Both wouldn't hurt.
    3. Add 1/3 lb salt per gallon of bath. This is not enough salt to slow the rehydration too much, but it is enough to retard bacteria growth, and prevent swelling.

    I have used this method before, and it works pretty well. I am kinda wondering now if this might be a little overkill?
    Would a small amount of salt like the usual 1/4 lb per gallon, surfactant, and a quality bactericide be "good enough " to keep the skin "safe" 36-48 hours in rehydration? Just food for thought and a chance to see how others would handle the situation.
     
  12. TIMBUCK

    TIMBUCK Active Member

    I just tanned 2 moose capes that were like you described. They had been dry salted for 2 years. There were thick and super hard. I used the process I described, soaked them for 48 hours and they rehydrated maybe 80%. I put them in a Formic pickle for a week. The first shave was a mother. They went back into the pickle for a week. Second shave was much better. Back in the pickle for 2 days and by then they were really limp..
    Man it was a lot of work though but they are now tanned and very nice and thin.

    Many thanks to Frank Katoula for answering a few questions I had along the way.


    And Oldshaver, I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge on here.. Also Last night, while at work, I was looking at the "TrueBond" website.. I clicked on the "video" drop down and watching you shave with that S&S machine BLEW MY MIND!!!!.. I just thought I was fast..... All of those videos where extremely informative... Thanks.
     
  13. Sonnyknight

    Sonnyknight Member

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    A good way is to just get your water and add some ammonia not much but wen it is re-hydrated wash it out and drip dry and dun.
     
  14. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    I'll seconds Timbuck's sentiment, Aubrey thanks for sharing your knowledge. I just started tanning my customer capes this past season, before that I only did some of my own, but my tanning knowledge is pretty limited so I get involved with these discussions to learn all I can. I use to bug a guy about tanning that went by Hudson. He helped me along the way as well. Please keep it coming, like I said, I'm listening.
     
  15. Rhino

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

    Timbuck, did you know Tom Piewitz?
    I would have used more of the Atesan LPW. I think you can use up to 4oz or a little more per gallon if you need it. I don't know if keeping the pH above 5 has much to do with penetration? Maybe, I just never heard that. Salt is the one thing determining penetration in my opinion. If you had used more LPW, I would think you were on the money. If you had no slip, it would appear that you already were on the money? I would be like you, and not wait for full rehydration on those moose. After 48 hours, I would start getting nervous, and feel the need to get them in pickle!

    I mentioned Tom Piewitz earlier. You wanna talk about the perfect rehydration bath, Tom had it down pat. He could rehydrate a WHOLE LARGE African Safari, and have it ready to shave in 48 hours. I mean REALLY READY TO SHAVE. Eland and Cape buffalo limp as a dish rag, and totally ready to shave ALL THE WAY DOWN! He used some kind of a bate(enzymes) to accomplish this. He never let me in on his secret, and now that he is gone, I guess it went with him, unless Mark Daniels knows it? Mark and him were good friends. I'm not in the tanning business anymore, but I sure do miss it. It might not be a glamorous career, but I was proud of it! All I can do now is just talk about it. LoL
     
  16. Rhino

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

    Really Sonny, just ammonia, no salt, no nothing, and skins stay "safe" for up to 48hrs?

    Never heard of that. If it's working with no problems, I just learned something. How much ammonia per gallon?

    This is like what furtan shop mentioned, except he uses formaldehyde. I just would worry about handling the formaldehyde? Maybe 2 grams per liter is nothing to worry about? I used to see trichloroethalene added to sawdust in round drums to clean fur. Another carcinogen.
     
  17. TIMBUCK

    TIMBUCK Active Member

    Oldshaver, yes I did know Tom well. We were friends. I sure do miss him. He taught me a lot about tanning. He was a encyclopedia on tanning.. He was always willing to help me when I called or stopped by for a visit but of course he held back a little. He always had a few aces up his sleeve.. :). He never shared his bating trick but you are right. He could soak them up in a hurry with no hard spots. Heck I guess I really never asked him much about rehydrating or he probably would have told me. It's a shame all of that knowledge was lost. After he passed the quality left with him.
    I wish I could have somehow spent more time with him before he passed. He was a damn good man...
    Back when I was doing a lot of African work he tanned all of my safaris.. I tried a few others early on but his tan was second to none.. It was a breeze mounting his skins, even big stuff.. As far as the 5ph heck I don't know. I thought I read on here somewhere that anything lower than a five slow down rehydration.. I gues it didn't hurt anything.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge. It's obvious you've "been there and done that" a time or 2.
    Your willingness to share your knowledge helps many and will continue long after your gone..
     
  18. big dan

    big dan Member

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    I am currently in this situation now. I have an elk cape that is about an inch thick and dried for about 8 months now. Rehydrated in straight water knowing it was going to take at least 24 hours, well after a day I checked it and it was still not much different than when I started it. I was getting nervous with how long I knew this was going to take. I decided to change the water out and give it another day. After 48 hours it still was not totally rehydrated but I knew it had to get in the pickle, amazingly there was no signs of hair loss yet. I figured I would let it go overnight in the pickle then shave the thick spots and put back in the pickle. Well next morning it still was not rehydrated but was kind of rubbery feeling so I decided to just leave it in there, it took another 3 days before it felt totally rehydrated. Today is shaving day (Yeay!) and it is showing some signs of hair loss now but I expected nothing less with that long to rehydrate. I will let you know how it turns out.
     
  19. furtanshop

    furtanshop New Member

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    Aubrey, good to see your talking about some of these things.

    In 1971 when I began commercial fur dressing and buck skin leather tanning , I was told by a leather chemist that there were fur tanneries in Europe that
    would not allow salt in the plant. I cannot not confirm that. These same tanneries also used formaldehyde as a disinfectant. I have used it for over 50 years in the small amount mentioned. It is an absolute must in chamois tanning and I have chamois tanned hair-on. You haven't seen any thing until you see a chamois tanned cat skin. I have never added salt to the rehydration bath. And you mentioned the wet drum . I do not accept African because I do not have a wet drum at this time. Just started building one out of 3 inch oak, this is the most valuable tool when working with hard dry skins.

    As we talk about this use of salt, the top leather labs in the world are working to reduce and/or eliminate salt from the tanning operations as it is the number 0ne pollutant.
    I never use more than 6 oz. of salt per gallon in any stage of the process. Excess salt is proven to slow down and prevent tanning.

    oldshaver, the tric. is really bad to inhale. Formaldehyde can and is handled safely by many industries.

    I used ammonia in treating my own in house sulphanated neatsfoot oil . I don't think the ammonia will affect the pH of the pickle when
    you move the rehydrated skins to it. It could work ,
     
  20. Sonnyknight

    Sonnyknight Member

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    Yes 48hrs at most I got that from a former tanner and that has been around for a long time as for the formaldehyde I would not use that unless you never want it to stretch or re-hydrate it respells water but ammonia will let the water in and about a cup for 3 gall not really a amount but a gall is a bit much for 20 gal .