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Alum Or Lutan To Tan Hides For Taxidermy?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by ForFoxSake, May 14, 2019.

  1. ForFoxSake

    ForFoxSake New Member

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    I've been using Lutan F to tan all my capes and hides so far and they have all turned out great. I've recently had to purchase a few capes which were all tanned by another taxidermist. They used alum and they turned out pretty similar to mine. Lutan is over 3x the price of alum, so I'm wondering if I should stick with Lutan to tan or if alum tanning is just as good? Are there any reasons why one would be better than the other for taxidermy work?
     
  2. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    There is a difference. Besides the price for each Tanning agent.

    First of all is Customer Satisfaction with your work! If you use Alum for your Deer Capes - after 14-16 years the seams and skins become weak and any of your threads often pull through their sew holes. Alum contains Sulphates but once they combine (even with Atmospheric Moisture) over a long time, Sulphuric Acid is formed which causes the breakdown of Alum tanned mounts and skins. The Sulphates only loosely bond to the skin itself. This is also a good reason not to wash or soak an Alum tanned skin too much or you may wash out out some of its Tan.

    On the other hand - Lutan F seems to have a much better Tan - it should'nt be washed very much but since it's an Aluminum Chloride product there are no Sulphates in it to contend with, and once you mount it, it should last for many, many years! Consider the cost difference of the 2 products as buying Customer Satisfaction.
     

  3. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    To go along with that, some people use alum as a pickle. Where I don't believe that Lutan-F is used as a pickle or even if it CAN be used as one. My point; just an FYI.
     
  4. Bruce_Rittel

    Bruce_Rittel Consultant Services

    Tanglewood is right about Alum being used by the Fur Dressing industry as a Pickle first then as a Tan when they have treated all the skins and furs and bring up the solution's pH.

    They make an Alum solution usually using 1 Gallon of Water, 1 Pound of Salt, and 12.0 - 12.8 Ounces of Alum (you can substitute Ammonium or Potash Alums for this too)! The pH of this solution is 2.3-2.5 and is a Pickle. Later, when you Tan, most Fur Dressers will first dissolve some Soda Ash in Water and then when it's dissolved, add it to their Pickle to get the Tannng effect they now want at 3.8 or 4.0 pH. Their skins usually tan in 3 to 5 days. Some Alum Tanners tell me they can leave them in the higher pH Tan until they tan or even longer if need be.
     
  5. ForFoxSake

    ForFoxSake New Member

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    Thanks for that! I'll stick with Lutan then, I'd rather pay more for better quality.
     
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I knew a guy who pickled with alum and tanned with a synthetic tan. I also knew a guy who left a coyote in an alum tan in a five gallon bucket with a lid on it for more than a year and it mounted up nicely. He forgot it was there and found it when he was cleaning up his shop.