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Tanning Chemical/smoking Hides Question

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by stokedlight86, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. stokedlight86

    stokedlight86 Member

    Hoping someone can help me out here. I’ve been tanning hides and such for a few years now and I’ve gotten into a good working system for the majority of the process and I’m very happy with the end results of the hides on work on. My question lies in smoking hides and or the process to stop them from stiffening back up if they were to get wet or be washed. The bucksins that I tan I smoke as a final step and that does the trick very well but is there another way without smoking to do this? I feel like professional tanneries (which I am not) don’t go and smoke all the hides people send them, so is there a chemical bath or process I don’t know about to achieve this? I have furs (coyote, fox etc) that I want to make into some hats and mittens and want to protect them from stiffening if they were to get wet. Thanks.
  2. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    To achieve a skin that will not stiffen after you Wash it, or it gets wet - you need to switch to a Syntan for your Tan! Forget Smoking them. I use Dan Rinehart's EZ-100 (TASCO) or try Knobloch's Para Tan. Both are Syntans and produce the same type of durable leather. It's doubtful you or I, or your customers will ever wash either of these type of tanned skins in 160 to 180 degree Water. At those Temps you will break their Tanning bond to the fibers too!

    With the other tans (besides Syntans) available, they may be good for Taxidermy purposes, but most of them tend to Wash out if gotten wet often or they were washed - hence their stiffness upon drying out again. Actually you're slowly washing out their tanning ability.

    I always use Syntans - particularly on Rugs!

  3. stokedlight86

    stokedlight86 Member

    Thank you for the reply Bruce I appreciate the help, I wasn’t able to find an answer through my own searching. Can you explain if you don’t mind, why these specific brands or Syntan oils protect the leather from washing/getting wet in a way that the other tans I’m using don’t. I use the Mackenzies tan and I think it works just great except for the above mentioned.
  4. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Smoke contains aldehydes in many different forms. Aldehydes are crosslinking reagents and form bonds within strands of collagen. These are permanent bonds and are "water proof" one might say.
    When someone claims to "brain tan" a hide, this is actually a misnomer in that braining a hide merely only adds the fatliquer to soften the hide and separate the collagen strands. Smoking the hides afterwards is when the actual tanning takes place as the aldehydes bond to the collagen.

    Wash a properly smoked hide and it will remain soft when dried.

    Wash a brained hide that hasn't been smoked and it will shrink back to pre softened stiffness.

    Tans that contain crosslinking reagents will do the same thing, syntans.. Different crosslinking compounds will create different properties in the finished product and you may have to experiment to find which one(s) suit your needs.
  5. stokedlight86

    stokedlight86 Member

    Cyclone, I’d like to start by saying thank you for such a direct and informative explanation of the chemical process of the tanning, very well written. What a great forum to find answers to questions that are sometimes niche and tough to find. Can’t wait to try some of the above recommended products and try this out. Love tanning furs and such but man is it a pain to get a fire going and stand outside smoking hides all afternoon haha. I know it has it purposes (coloring and I personally like that traditional smoky smell) but sometimes I’ll have 6 or 7 coyotes and man does that make for some work.
    cyclone likes this.
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    This is why syntans and smoked hides are great for clothing. If you've ever been to primitive camp at a blackpowder "Ronnyvue" in the pouring rain, you appreciate those tans and smoke.