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Pickling Using Weak Acids ? Difficulty Maintaining Ph Levels Of 1.5-2.5 - Hair Slipping

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by notbuffalobill, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    Hey everyone. I have been a long time lurker on here. Recently, I found a freshly roadkilled coon. I started to flesh it to the best of my ability. There were a few mistakes since it was my first. I was a bit ambitious lol because I wanted to keep paws, nose and lips etc. I would like to tan it eventually.

    A bit of context:
    • fleshing took longer than expected since i was new. 3 days. The hide was kept at subzero temperatuers. During this time, there was a bit of hair slipping through the hide and a gentle pull, pulled them out. I guess this is hair slippage?
    • I figured it was best to salt it and wash all the blood off. So I washed it off with dishwasher soap (palmolive), then I salted it (not rock salt, but powdered and non-iodized).
    • eventually the hide was drying and starting to toughen up. I started fleshing more during this time the more detailed parts like face, paws, etc.
    • I decided it was time to pickle, so I relaxed it in water and salt solution. Some hair came out again of the hide. It wasn't in clumps, but the hair poked through the hide.
    • I then degreased it with coleman's lighter fuel and a bit of dishwasher soap again.
    I don't know if this is from moisture, or bacteria for the hair slips. The hair does not pull out in clumps.

    I don't have access to the taxidermy chemicals, since I live in Toronto, Ontario. So here is what happneed:

    • I prepared a solution of cleaning vinegar (10 percent acetic acid) and extra strength viengar (6 percent acetic acid) at 50/50 ratio. No water was used because i figured this was already a weak acid. I used 1 gallon in total of the two vinegars mixed together
    • I added 1 pound of salt, and even had extra salt.
    • The ph was measured with a calibrated meter. It was about 2.3-2.4.
    • I placed my coon hide in it. Swishing it around periodically
    • after 12-16 hours, I tested the ph. It was a 3.3. Yikes.
    • I took out the hide, it had hair slips again. but I feel this would probably be from moisture at this point? I mean it was dessicated dry with salt before I relaxed it again.
    • I mixed a new pickle. This time 75 percent of the solution was made with the cleaning vinegar, and the rest was made with the extra strength vinegar (3/1 ratio). I added salt as usual and a bit extra just in case.
    • the ph was about 2.20-2.3ish.
    • I placed hide in again and swished it.
    • 6 hours later, I tested the solution, and it was 2.67 ph.
    • I took it out because I was afraid bacteria were gonna keep growing. I decided to pour salt over it because I didn't want to continue without seeking advice. Again, a bit of hair was slipping through the hide, not in clumps at all.
    My question are these:

    1. How are people getting such low ph's with weak acids? I was under the impression that these weak acids (citric and acetic) do not go below ph 2.0-2.5 even if yu concentrated the acid into the solution?
    2. Should I buy glacial acetic vinegar or 30 percent acetic acid vinegar and add more of that into this solution? I don't like the idea that it was at ph of 2.67 and 3.3 at all.
    3. I feel that I messed up with the ph, and maybe even allowed bacteria to grow. I don't think this is the sole cause of the hair slipping though because it happens usually when the hide is wet. Still lots of fur left though lol ;);););););););)
    4. I have access to 30 percent muriatic acid, but I don't know if this is a good idea to toss a bit of muriatic acid into this pickle solution in order to lower the ph. It is the most easiest to access for me.
    5. I found a dealer who is able to deliver taxidermy chemicals to me, but they sell a brand of pickle acid, that I have never heard of. They could not send me a msds and I couldn't find info on that acid anywhere in google. All I know is that it is a mineral acid and can reach ph of 1.0. It can be used on furs when I asked him. When I hear mineral acid, I just think why not just use muriatic then since that is a mineral acid as well. I just don't know why I would pay a lot of money for shipping and an acid that the seller cannot provide info on for me, nor can I find info on it.
    6. the last resort is to pay really high delivery fees for safetee acid to deliver to where I live. it would be a last resort, since it would be almost double the price probably.
    Can anyone offer assistance :p:p:p:p?

    Attached Files:

  2. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    One you can buy safety acid from pro 1 or Mckenzie supply . That will take care of your acid problem just follow directions. 2 keeping it cold as possible as u flesh is good but you only really have to rough flesh before pickling . Never wash hide with soap or anything , just cold water to get the blood out then squeeze out and put immediately in pickle, you should make at least a 2 gal pickle . Either agitate every few hours or submerge it for 3 days , at this time you can take it out squeeze it and do some more fleshing if needed thinning face and hide of large pcs of meat and fat , then back in pickle for a day or so . Now you can nuetrlize and tan . After tanning for 6 hours you can wash and degrease if needed , you can also put a degreasing agent in your pickle , but don’t degrease before pickling . You can salt after rough fleshing till dry but then you have to rehydrate, I find this is not nesassarry on small game .

    Being a rd Kill the hide could be what I call loose , no biggie. The hair sticking thru means you had it thin and clean enough. Some of the slippedge is from taking to long , washing and degreasing before pickling , your pickle not being hot enough as you stated and lastly cause your learning. Keep practicing it gets better and easier lol
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
    notbuffalobill and Micah Howards like this.

  3. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Well welcome and between the road kill and your fleshing is more of an issue to start with.
    Ok roadkills if not fresh, has total bacteria on it and is already susceptible to slippage.
    Now your fleshing and hair is coming through the hide? That’s over fleshed to where you cut into the hair roots . So don’t over flesh.
    As far as an acid goes and maybe due to expense buy citric acid. It’s a great cheap pickle plus aids in degreasing and you can get to a 1 but I don’t and never need to get it that low. I like to keep it at a 2.
    Also invest into a salinity meter bought through a taxidermy suppler not Amazon.
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  4. So I washed it off with dishwasher soap (palmolive), THis could well be the problem. The chemicals used in household detergents is not good for the tanning of hides. I had a few hide some years ago I tried the same soap you mentioned then I even tried Dawn and they hair slipped on this much like may have been your problem.

    I ordered more McKenzie Degreaser, relaxer and have used either it or Basycryl NBKU for my degreasing agent and as a wash for bloody hides ever since and not had the problem again.
    3.3pH will work just fine as the pickle pH. But you also don't know what else is in vinegar.

    I have years ago tried vinegar and did not have good results.
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  5. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    I thought it was the salt I used. Don't ask why, it was just more convenient than buying non-iodized salt lol. I had a blender and made the rock salt (for roads, it was sodium chloride) into a powder. Then I put that on.

    But that really wasn't the problem i don't think, since the issue started before salting with hide before salting. I had a few slips before washing with Dishsoap too. I will though as a precaution avoid using dish in the future.

    Oh, I didn't know the pickle at that ph would work. Aside from the road salt. It is vinegar. the vinegar itself is just acetic acid and water. I am gonna make these changes (buy proper ingredients) now while it is drying, since I don't want to screw anything else more lol.
  6. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    In my novice years many, many years ago, I successfully used vinegar as a pickling acid. I didn't like the smell, so I sought out other options finally deciding on Safety Acid by Rittel.
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  7. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    thank you for the advice! I am already thinking how I would do so much different for my next one. We will see haha! I was following a book by James Churchill.

    I didn't realize that fleshing only needed to be rough. I was so concerned because when I read some sources online, they mentioned "all of it" must come off before pickle.

    But I found that some parts that weren't fleshed well, actually was much easier to flesh after salting. The meat toughened up and the fat became really easy to push off interestingly.

    How would you define roughly fleshed?
  8. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    Hey, thanks for the reply. I initially was like "nah, this is my first and last coon", but now I am actually finding it really enjoyable. I live in an urban area, so you can imagine the city folk seeing this as super strange lol! My neighbor saw me drag the coon into my yard and they were horrified.

    My guess is that it probably wasn't bacteria. It was fresh roadkill, as in no more than 12 hours in subzero temperature. I believe it was actually when I started fleshing it, then taking 2-3 days until i started to salt it. I should have salted it as I went to be honest. And it should have just been a rough flesh job first. That is when the fur started to slip.

    The other is as you mention, overfleshing... I don't really know what that looks like or means. I am attaching pics. I can see a bluish tint to the hide. It's not even though. The hair slips are circled in red. They poke through the hide, and easily slide out. It is happening all over the body

    I am curious. I have read in old posts, that someone used muriatic acid in combination with safetee acid, and had good results. I guess it would be fine for me to add a bit of muriatic acid to this solution to lower the pH?

    The citric acid is safest and I would love to use it, though I am a little confused as to how you can get it to a ph of 2? Citric acid is a weak acid and I believe acetic acid is much stronger than citric?

    Attached Files:

  9. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    The slip did happen before the dishwasher soap, but I think to be safe i should just avoid it. What are your thoughts on naptha as a degreaser? I think citric acid was recommended as well. I am following James Churchill's advice on it (His book on tanning).
  10. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    TT, do you remember what you did to keep teh vinegar at a good ph to avoid bacterial growth? Do you remember what you did?

    I don't mind the smell, though I do want to get Safety Acid or any other taxidermy acid tbh. I'd like to get into it more seriously, so i would invest in chemicals and supplies soon. Really, I am buying time. I have been able to find people who can sell me their old taxidermy supplies. I need to see if they have such chemicals they can sell me. I don't know what they have yet, so I need to contact them.

    For now, I want to practice and make lots of mistakes, though improvising some of my materials was a mistake in itself lol. I have access to a lot of dead pigeons. They die all the time. But this is probably different from mammals, since bird taxidermy is it's whole other topic. I mean, kinda random but you can technically tan a bird hide like you would with a coon hide, yes? It seems borax is the main method. Though I kinda dig the idea of a tanned pigeon pelt as an experiement lol. Idk, maybe I will sew a bunch of tanned pigeon pelts (if they are tannable) as a cover for a chair. Give it to my mom so she freak outs!
  11. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I can hardly remember what I did last year let alone 30 plus years ago. Citric acid is probably the better way to go if you can get it locally. I have never used it, but if you can get it locally it might be cheaper than ordering something from the states.
  12. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Is this your pickling container? What volume is your pickling container?

    What are you highlighting with the circles?

  13. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Hmmm you better study acids as citric is a safe but a very low pH and it’ll get you lower than vinegar.
    Us tanneries, home tanners might know a hair more in helping you here and when advise is given here you may want to look into what’s being said.
    Those pics you showed us is you cutting through the skin. Hair coming through the flesh side is you shaving too close not slippage.
    But it seams your doubting our words of help here so enjoy and try reading through the threads here as it may answer more questions you have instead of doubting the folks who are helping you.
  14. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    You don't monitor pH levels to prevent bacterial growth. pH levels must be maintained in order to keep collagen chains stable.
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  15. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Cyclone those are pics that hair follicles are coming through that is being called slippage
    notbuffalobill and cyclone like this.
  16. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I prefer a larger container that what you have there.
    notbuffalobill likes this.
  17. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    Citric acid is easily accessible where I live. I actually genuinely believed that citric acid was weaker than acetic by mistake (read it awhile ago on a pH chart but was wrong). It's a much easier thing for me to get so I will look into that.

    It's salt dried again now. hmmm... yeah I think I have something bigger. I will switch it to a plastic tub which I have. So I'll get the acid then continue the with the pickling this weekend.

    Thank you !
  18. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    I wasn't doubting your advice. I genuinely believed that the pH of citric acid was weaker than that of acetic. I was wrong though and must have been up too late when I searched up that info weeks ago, since I double checked now and found that citric acid is stronger than acetic.

    This is actually my first time ever seeing a real hide in person. I don't even know what actual hair slippage or what an overfleshed hide looks like. I just read about hair slippage being when hair falls out of hide, and I though that is what it was. I live in an urban city, where there are no hunters, tanneries, or pelts for me to look at. The advice I was given was to flesh til blue, or flesh til you see the pores for coons - which didn't work out for me, since now I know this is overfleshed. It's why I attached the pic.

    I guess this hide is doomed now since it is overfleshed. I am not really sure what else to do since i can't un-overflesh it.

    I am grateful for the resources and help everyone provides. I was just genuinely confused.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  19. notbuffalobill

    notbuffalobill New Member

    At this point, it seems this hide is a dummy hide for me to make as much mistakes as possible. :D

    Also I was wrong about the pH. I thought citric was higher than acetic, but I think I was too sleepy when I searched it up weeks ago.