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Citric acid Vs formic acid which is better?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Rgvmelb, Apr 20, 2018.

  1. Rgvmelb

    Rgvmelb Member

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    I'm currently using citric acid, but I'm starti g to do more tanning now and it takes a long time to fill a drum up and make up a new pickle every time. Also I might just be impatient, but it seems that quite often the citric just doesn't get right into the skin and makes shaving difficult. All this added to someone learning from scratch!
    Question is, would l be better using formic acid so l can reuse my pickle and will it work better or much the same as citric acid?
     
  2. Toolfactory

    Toolfactory New Member

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    I know practically nothing as I'm just starting out tanning, but I know citric acid helps with really greasy skins like skunk and coon and bear. You also need to use an actually degreaser with these animals, but the citric acid is a natural booster in the degreasing process, and I think it smells nice.
     

  3. Toolfactory

    Toolfactory New Member

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    Oh this is what the fellows at Trubond have to say about it

    "When tanning bears in-house, your best bet for a good acid, will ALWAYS be CITRIC acid. Others will work, but the natural degreasing effect of citric, Will ALWAYS yield a SUPERIOR finished product, when it comes to bears, and small game, like fox and yokes"
     
  4. Rgvmelb

    Rgvmelb Member

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    I'm in Australia so pretty much the only greasy animal l'll get will be a fox. Some of the deer have really thick skin though! Easily 1/4-1/2 thick sometimes. Sometimes you just have to knock the meat and membrane off and they're fine. Depending on what species it is.
     
  5. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Neither each will work on any animal as many other acids do the same.
    Now we can say this citric is a natural degreaser plus it’s a pickle. It still takes three days to pickle a hide ( normally) as with any skin some can take a day , very thinned or when your doing elk moose etc you pickle for three return for another day or two and shave again as their skin can be 1/2 thick. Again it doesn’t matter what pickle.
    I use formic and citric mainly. You may get a bit more swell with formic but I can say theirs no difference in time wise in how long it takes to pickle the hide.
    If your finding it difficult that your skins aren’t pickling it might be the hydration process and not being fully hydrated.
    I wouldn’t look into my pickle but look into my process prior to the pickle.
     
  6. Rgvmelb

    Rgvmelb Member

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    Thank you very much. I thjnk you're spot on about the rehydration. Truth be told l haven't been rehydrating them before the pickle and it's taking forever for them to get right to start shaving. It's taken me whike to figure out why I keep getting holes! Haha. I'll definitely be hydrating the next lot of capes before pickling! Thanks again.
     
  7. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    I'm not familiar with Citric Acid in terms of its Degreasing effect on using it to Pickle your skins or capes, but If you suspect your Water is "HARD" and likely to contain dissolved chemicals in it you may use to Tan with, and Citric Acid may be a good choice. Usually it's commonly associated with using Spring or Well Water, or other outside sources of water. Citric Acid has a Chelating effect when you do, and besides softening the effects of your Pickle (like treated Normal Town Water would), it may also influence the effect of using any Commercial Degreaser, Washing agent, or Tanning Oil and over all it might improve your output.

    However, when you mix your Citric Acid Pickle, for every 1 Gallon of it, always mix 3 Ozs. of Citric Acid, and 1 Lb. of Salt. Keep the pH of it between 1.5 to 2.5 pH and use a Salinometer to keep your mixture's Salt content between 40 to 45%.

    Using Citric Acid or Formic Acid, always wear Gloves to protect your skin from contact. Formic Acid can BURN and damage your skin. Avoid splashes and spills.

    Taxidermists who use Formic Acid, like it's availability from a local Chemical Company and it's Anti Septic so it's usually mixed for Pickling, every 1 Gl. of Water, add 1.1 Oz. (by Weight) of 85% Formic Acid and 1 Lb. of Salt. Keep it's pH in the 2.2 to 2.5 pH range and again, mix in 1 Lb. of Salt per 1 Gl. of mixture and use a Salinometer to keep it at 40% to 45%.
     
    Chippers likes this.
  8. Wahbush

    Wahbush New Member

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    Bruce,Is your measure of citric acid in the formula 3 oz by weight(84gm)?
     
  9. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Yes - it is 84 Grams!
     
  10. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Forgive me - but I also wanted to add this to my Reply!

    Less then 84 Grams will pull the mixture to a pH of 1.5 to 2.5 pH - but it's misleading. The Load you put into it will absorb some of the pH and unless you do 84 Grams it will raise the pH of the Pickle to a level for most skins or capes. For this reason its also wise to monitor the Pickle and for the real thick skins or capes like Giraffe or Bisons - you may have to add more to correct the pH level. Adding the load of skins or capes can influence the final pH of the Pickle. It can change! Keep it 1.5 to 2.5 pH level.
     
  11. Wahbush

    Wahbush New Member

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    Thanks Bruce,I have been using aluminum sulfate formula for a pickle and just ordered some citric acid to give it a try.
    Is there a significant difference in the finished skin(ie stretch etc) when using one or the other as a pickle if all else is equal?
     
  12. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    A Pickle is only a step that allows a person to prepare the skin for being Tanned. It allows you time to shave the piece, degrease it, or Wash it if it needs it, but it is not considered a Tan. However handling the skin or cape in an Aluminum (Ammonium or Potassium) Sulphate Pickle at 2.3 pH to a 2.5 pH range will be different then most Pickling Acids. Any one of the Alums actually plumps the piece slightly allowing it to be more easily shaven. For that reason, many Shavers on piece work, like I saw in the NYC or New Jersey area, prefer to work only on Alum pickled skins. They can work faster and less useless shaves, and earn more money.

    The Citric Acid Pickle will definately Pickle your skins or capes too - but - they wont be as plump as the Alum pickled skins. Being only a Pickle (preparation) it shouldn't affect the finished product when you Tan them. Choose to use the Tan of your choice.
     
  13. Wahbush

    Wahbush New Member

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    Thank you.
     
  14. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Weather you use Citric Acid or Aluminum Sulphate for Pickling and preparing your skins or capes - make sure you are adjusted to the correct pH range. Then, when you've shaven and degreased, or Washed (prepared) the load and you're ready to Tan it, simply pull out the load, rinse it only with fresh clean Water, allow the load to drain for 30 to 45 minutes and then put it in your Tanning Solution. Read the Tan's Instructions - be careful, some Tans only want you to Tan the load within 24 hours or you begin to lose stretch when they finish. Also monitor the Tan's pH range too! After placing them in the Tan I usually recheck the pH level, readjust if necessary, stir it, check it an hour later, readjust again, and if it's OK I let the load Tan! I usually Tan for 14 to 16 hours overnight.
     
  15. Wahbush

    Wahbush New Member

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    So you wouldn't give the skins a neutralizing between the pickle and the tan?Just a rinse in clean water?
     
  16. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Yes!
     
  17. Wahbush

    Wahbush New Member

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    Good to know,thanks again.
     
  18. Yukon254

    Yukon254 Member

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    Bruce I'm using EZ-100 and the instructions I have say to neutralize when the skins come out of the pickle BEFORE going into the tanning bath???
     
  19. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    I personally, do not do not Neutralize skins or capes prior to putting them into an EZ-100 Tanning solution. Particularly if they are Thin or well shaven! Years ago we recommended it, but it was only to assure the user that all the skins or capes would fully Tan including the thicker, and unshaven skins or capes.



    It does not harm the skins or capes especially if its only done to them for 30 minutes or less – but it is an extra step in the Tanning process. Nowadays, I recommend skipping it.

    Tanneries do not do it. The mechanical method (Roll and Drop as they Tan) of using a Wet Drum ensures thorough Tanning – it’s not needed.


    Apparantly you have a copy of our older instruction sheets on using EZ-100. Call TASCO on their Toll free number and get a new one sent to you or E-mailed as an attachment. Neutralization has been deleted. Their number is (866) 296-2782.
     
  20. Yukon254

    Yukon254 Member

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    Thanks Bruce, will skip that step with the next batch. So if I understand correctly, the skins are never neutralized ?? That happens in the tan correct? BTW I just got a big order of EZ-100 in the mail and the instructions that came with it still say to neutralize before the tan, but I will get the new instructions, thanks for the heads up!