1. Welcome to Taxidermy.net, Guest!
    We have put together a brief tutorial to help you with the site, click here to access it.

Benefits Of Alcohol Pickle Over Acid And Salt Pickle ? Why Alcohol?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by buffalobill20, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. buffalobill20

    buffalobill20 Member

    Hello everyone. I have always done usual standard method of skin, flesh, salt and then pickle in standard solution (ph 2 and salt solution).

    i am interested in trying alcohol as a pickle but don’t know if it has same effect.

    My question is in regards to the pickle solution. I have read on here by George and some old school taxidermists that hides can be stored and pickled in an alcohol solution.

    My curiosity emerged when I heard Chuck Testa use a turpentine and alcohol mix to soak his hides. I am not sure what the purpose of turpentine was other than to retain natural oil and degrease the hides.

    i like the idea of alcohol pickle because it is guaranteed disinfectant. I also have plenty and it’s very cheap for me. I am not too worried about costs. I am aware this is not a tanning method lmao, though I would be interested to do this as a treatment pre-tanning.

    i did read on here that someone mentioned there is hide shrinkage... then another post mentioned hide expansion (size increased). Idk lol.

    So my question is if there are any benefits to alcohol/terpentine over acid/salt pickle?:

    1. does it help remove flesh easier? I read that it makes peeling the flesh off super easy. Idk how this compares to your usual acid/salt pickle or if it is superior?
    2. an acid pickle actually dissolves certain proteins I believe in the hide, so this makes the tanning solutions penetrate better. Does alcohol/terpentine do the same? Alcohol is not an acid.
    3. If I soak in alcohol, I guess I would have to soak in an acid since some tanning solutions require low pH?
    Robert Baker and Richard C like this.
  2. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Alcohol is good for small mammals only and it’s not a pickle in any manner .
    It’s pH is a 6 so that gets thrown out the door as a pickle must have a pH of 2.5 or lower for it to do its job.
    As for Chuck there’s way to much written on him on how those methods only preserve a cape and has nothing to do with tanning a cape. It’s totally misleading.
    Alcohol will tighten up the skin and that makes it easier to pull flesh off. It doesn’t plumb up the skin, pull out nontannable fluids like a pickle does. It won’t prep the cape for a tan.
    If your going to tan follow what tanneries do and not somebody who has no idea on what chemicals are needed to change the skin, fiber structure in order to have a proper tanned cape.
    So if your doing small mammals go ahead and use alcohol but anything else stick to proper tanning.
    Pickle, shave degrease when needed, neutralize tan oil break if needed , freeze mount etc.

  3. buffalobill20

    buffalobill20 Member

    hey Frank, thanks for the detailed reply. Yeah I think I will stick with acid and salt pickle for tanning.

    so you mentioned it tightens the skin with alcohol. I am guessing the stretch and softness can be restored through shaving and stretching? I am curious to how well this alcohol works for fleshing, not necessarily for tanning.

    Would you say the alcohol soak helps remove the flesh and membrane better than a pickle? In my experiences an acid/salt pickle does a good job of making fleshing and membrane removal easier but what are your thoughts on alcohol?
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2020
    Robert Baker and Frank E. Kotula like this.
  4. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    I don’t use it and have no use for it (alcohol)as a quick 1-2 hr salting will make fleshing easy on green skins. ( now I don’t or have the need to salt green hides prior to fleshing) I’ll use sawdust ( better to use fine salt) on my capes and wheel them with ease. Been doing it for yrs so I have the nack but don’t try it unless you know your machine.
    Placing a cape in a pickle is way safer than using any other soaks out there. The acid kills bacteria, pulls non tannable fluids out plumbs skin for shaving, alcohol can’t do this.
    Using an alcohol skin and trying to make it soft won’t work as it penetrates the whole skin and makes it firm. Even after pulling the membrane off it’ll still be firm and won’t soften by shaving the skin and if thinking using an oil and rub it in and let dry. It’ll still be fragile as the alcohol has only preserved the skin structure but not chemically change the fibers to be broken and made soft.
    In reality alcohol has minimal use in taxidermy, even through its widely used.
    If you want a tanned skin follow the tanning manufacture you choose to use it try out for success. Now even saying this follow all directions, you still may end up with an inferior product due to many different variables in skin condition and your knowledge.
    Robert Baker likes this.
  5. buffalobill20

    buffalobill20 Member

    Yeah I agree, it seems silly to go alcohol when salt and acid do a very good job and accomplish much more such as softening the hide. Thanks for sharing!
    Robert Baker and Frank E. Kotula like this.