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Degreasing - How To Tell When It's Ready?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Daedric.oak, May 13, 2020.

  1. Daedric.oak

    Daedric.oak Member

    I apologize if this is a very beginner question. I've started tanning recently and mostly practice on roadkill mammals or cheaper furs. I've got the other steps down. But I seem to be struggling a bit with the degreasing step.

    I've been using EZ-Tan as the tanning agent. I've followed the instructions provided to me (in short: salt, rehydrate, pickle, degrease, pickle, neutralize, tan, oil). I also use ProPlus oil for softening the leather after it has been tanned. Since I bought quite a few salted red foxes, I've been using them to test various methods. I've been told for foxes to degrease them for anywhere between 2-8 hours. Anyone I've ever spoken to has given me the length of time I need to degrease for, but not what I should do while they're degreasing. For some of the foxes, a bath in Super Solvent for 3 hours with some stirring has been enough, but for others they've been in for 10+ hours and still come out just as greasy. I've attached several pictures of some foxes I've tanned. The first picture is a comparison between a well degreased fox and a greasy one. These were both done at the exact same time and with the same materials. Both were in Super Solvent for 4 hours. The second is a fox that was dorsal cut and also greasy (degreased for 6 hours). But both greasy and non-greasy are still very soft and pliable (I apologize for the one fox being not-so-greatly fleshed. I've been working on trying to get my hand fleshing better until I can find a workshop that actually has outlets where I can hook up a flesher. Since my new place lacks any outlets...).

    So I ask, how do you like to degrease your pelts? Is there a step I'm missing in the degreasing process? Do you scrub them down with wire brushes or just let them float in the solution? I'd love to hear your thoughts and other methods you've done that have worked for you. I'm not opposed to purchasing different supplies if you think there's a better method than the one I have been using.


    Attached Files:

  2. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    Well I use the pro 1 safety acid and his paint on tan , that said I don’t degrease till after the pickle/tanning process , and on Fox it’s only with dawn detergent when I’m washing the tanning cream out . If for some reason it looks or seems greasy I’ll do a fast soak,agitate in Colman fuel but that’s rare and is still after I tan it . But that just me and how I do it .
    Daedric.oak likes this.

  3. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    When I used to tan with EZ 100, I just used the degreaser from the same company, which if I remember correctly, was Super Solvent. I just followed the instructions that came with it and had no problems. I was using it on raccoons and coyotes.
    Daedric.oak likes this.
  4. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    First off your degreasing way to long as that can harm skins and cause swelling and then hopefully the pickle brings it back.
    Warm water, no more than 110*, add 1/4 lb of salt per gallon. A two hour soak is all that’s needed. Drain, rinse and back in the pickle. Bears can take 2-3 degreasing but that’s the stubborn ones. .Just make sure you agitate every 15 minutes. If your not removing the membrane prior to degreasing, the product will have a hard time getting through it to work. What the warm water and soap does is open up the pores to let the fat and oils in the skin, not on it to escape. So not having a property fleshed skin and all that degreasing is doing almost nothing.
    You can also use a critic pickle as it’s a natural degreaser and will aid in the process.
    Now if your getting a greasy feeling after the tan and oiling , are you getting the tanning oils on the fur? If so, cup of paint thinner, hardwood sawdust a garbage bag and time for shake and bake.
    Looking at your skins there can be not good fleshing cause I can see a lot of membrane left on.
    3bears, Sleepyhollow and Daedric.oak like this.
  5. The one you say was greasy was never soaked up good, likely because it was either a poorly fleshed skin before salting, or a sin that was held in the dry salted state for a longer time, maybe in warmer conditions.

    Red fox "grease burn" easy, which makes them difficult to soak. If you have a skin like that, pull it out of your soak when it starts to loosen and beam it, that will break open the fibers so it can finish soaking. Also, as said above, clean (flesh) the skin better while in the pickle.
    Daedric.oak likes this.