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Why Is Hide Tearing Like This?

Discussion in 'Tanning' started by Cbntmtngal, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. Cbntmtngal

    Cbntmtngal New Member

    I've been doing side-work for a rug company for over 2 years, I receive dry tanned hides and mount them on a rugshell. The tanner told me to fill my sink with lukewarm water, place the mounted part of the hide in the water to rehydrate, let it sit for 20-30 minutes, if it's still not soft enough to work with, I can leave it in for another 20-30 minutes and worst case scenario, I add 1tbsp baking soda for every gallon of water mixing before putting the hide in, but usually after 30-40 minutes, it's good to go. Then roll/pat in a towel to soak up excess water and mount or freeze. I've also used this same rehydration method for other dry tans I've decided to mount..

    Well 5 days ago, an extra fluffy, thinly shaved hide just began tearing as I was doing the prep work after it was soaking for maybe 35 minutes. Like, tearing by just being handled. I'd sew a hole and as soon as I tried to sew a second hole, the first one would tear right through.. I'd try and even out the shave/do a little extra prep work and the snout or side of lip would just tear by being lifted. I managed to mount it and pin the tears together sculpt in gaps and over the pins, luckily the fur was so fluffy you can't tell. Figured it was just some freak event. Well again today, same thing!! What is going wrong?? Why after 2 years of doing things exactly the same, is this happening?

    Should I add salt or baking soda to my rehydration soak next time?

    My tap is about at a 7.2 pH, last time I checked. I have pretty hard water and it goes through multiple filtration systems and I have a water softener tank I use the basic morton pellets in, not sure if any of that info is relevant, but I haven't had any issues in 3+ years.

    Is it a chance there was something wrong on the tanning end? I know the tannery lost 2 of their employees during this pandemic (not lost as in died, lost as it had to quit lol) and had hired a few new people to replace them.. there's no slippage or anything though. Just these tears that seem to happen effortlessly..

    Link to pictures - https://imgur.com/a/39sOEMj

    Let me know if you can't see them.
    I need to know what's going wrong!
  2. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    In my opinion, the hide was not neutralized properly at the tannery. This is referred to as "acid rot" and the only time I see it in my shop is when a client brings me an already tanned cape that was tanned by someone else. I don't do any tanning in my shop so I hope someone here can elaborate on this topic.
    msestak likes this.

  3. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Ya looks like good ole acid rot.
    As stated neutralizing wasn’t done properly and adding sodium bicarbonate is fine but that just did nothing as salt needed to be added to the water to control acid swell.
    This is what you ended up with and I don’t know of any tannery I’ve felt with never say just use water. A good tannery knows this and a general rule they use is
    One gallon of water to 4 oz of salt and adding a1/4 of water softener will aid.!
    The use of that much sodium bicarbonate is a bit much as they said . That’s used more in neutralizing before the tan or buffering it when needed or the use of soda ash to raise the pH to set the tan and not get acid swell.
    Soak for 20-30, drain bag and place in fridge overnight. If it’s not hydrated then do it again and that should take care of it.
    Soaking for 30 and if it’s not hydrated and then soaking it again did really nothing to hydrate the skin as it needs sweating.
    socalmountainman and msestak like this.