How to tan skin: 14 steps (with pictures)

How to tan skin: 14 steps (with pictures)
How to tan skin: 14 steps (with pictures)
Anonim

If you hunt deer or any other animal for its meat, why not use its hide as well? This piece of soft leather could then be used to make shoes, clothes or even serve as a decoration if you hang it on a wall. All you need to do is treat the skin using a tanning process. Learn two techniques for tanning skin: a traditional method, which involves using natural fat from the animal's brain, and a chemical method, which is faster.

Steps

Method 1 of 2: Tan skin with animal fat

Tan a Hide Step 1

Step 1. Part the skin

Flaking the skin is to remove the flesh and fat, which prevents the skin from rotting. Place the hide on a skin dryer (a frame that is supposed to hold the hide in place as you work) or on a tarp on the floor. Use a meat slicer to scrape off any visible traces of flesh or fat, using quick, firm movements.

  • Flay the skin immediately after skinning the animal. If you wait a long time (more than a few hours), the skin will start to break down and fall apart during the tanning process.
  • Be careful not to damage the skin while scratching the inside. Do not use a knife that is not designed to cut open skin, otherwise you risk puncturing or damaging the future leather.
Tan a Hide Step 2

Step 2. Wash the skin

Use clean water and soap made with natural substances to remove dirt, blood, and other impurities before you start to soften the skin.

Tan a Hide Step 3

Step 3. Dry the skin

Let it dry for a few days to prepare it for the tanning process. Drill holes along the edges of the skin and use string to secure the skin to the dryer. These wooden frames, which you can buy at toy stores, keep the skin in place until it is completely dry.

  • Make sure the skin is stretched tight on the dryer, not just hanging up. The more the hide is stretched, the wider it will be when the tanning process is complete.
  • If you are stretching your skin against a wall or in a barn, make sure there is enough space for air to circulate, otherwise it will not dry properly.
  • The drying process can take up to a week, depending on the climate you live in.
Tan a Hide Step 4

Step 4. Remove the fur from the skin

Unhook the skin from the dryer and use a rounded steel blade with a handle or a moose wood scraper to remove the hair from the skin. This will allow the hide to completely bathe in the tanning solution. Carefully scrape the hairs and epidermis from the skin.

  • If the fur is long, cut it first. Then scrape in the opposite direction of the hair, starting from you and going outwards.
  • Pay special attention to the skin on the stomach, as it is thinner than the skin on the rest of the body.
Tan a Hide Step 5

Step 5. Apply the solution taken from the animal's brain to the skin

The fats contained in the brain of an animal naturally tan the skin. On the other hand, know that the brain of each animal is just big enough to be able to tan all of its skin. So cook the brain of the animal and a cup of water in a container, until the brain crumbles and the mixture resembles soup. Pass this mixture in a blender to make it completely fluid and homogeneous. Follow the steps below to apply the brain to the skin.

  • Wash the skin with water. This will remove any remaining debris and fat and make the skin more pliable. As a result, it will be better able to absorb the oil drawn from the animal's brain.
  • Wring out the skin, so that it can then absorb the oil taken from the animal's brain. Remove excess water by pressing the skin between two towels and repeating the process with two dry towels.
  • Rub the brain base mixture on the skin. Make sure you cover every square inch of the skin well.
  • Then roll the skin and place it in a large plastic bag or a large storage bag. Place everything in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, to allow time for the skin to absorb the mixture.
Tan a Hide Step 6

Step 6. Soften the skin

Once the oil has permeated the skin well, it can be softened. Take the skin out of the refrigerator and place it back on the dryer frame. Wipe off excess brain mixture as much as possible. Use a large stick or rope to soften the skin, using back and forth strokes, rubbing the tool across the entire surface of the skin.

  • You can also have someone help you stretch and loosen it. Unhook the skin from the dryer, then hold it firmly, each on one side, and rub it back and forth on one of the edges of the dryer frame. Continue until both of you are tired, then put it back on the dryer and use the stick to continue working the skin.
  • A thick rope can also be used to soften the skin. Have someone hold one end of the rope and try to rub the rope back and forth against the skin.
Tan a Hide Step 7

Step 7. Smoke the skin

When the skin is supple, pliable and dry, it can then be smoked. You will have to sew up any holes in the skin, before sewing the sides to make a sort of bag. Close one of the sides, so that the skin is likely to trap the smoke. Place the bag of skin upside down over a hole about 30 cm wide and about 15 cm deep. Use sticks to build a rudimentary structure that will hold the bag open, and hang the bottom from a tree. You can also use another long stick to hold it in the air. Then light a small fire producing a maximum of smoke at the foot of the opening of the bag, in order to smoke the skin.

  • Once the small fire has a layer of embers, start adding twigs to make it smoke and place the skin just above it. A small channel dug towards the fireplace will allow you to supply the fire with fuel.
  • After smoking one side for about half an hour, turn the bag over and smoke the other side.

Method 2 of 2: Tan skin with chemical tanning products

Tan a Hide Step 8

Step 1. Part the skin

Flaking the skin is to remove the flesh and fat, which prevents the skin from rotting. Place the hide on a skin dryer (a frame that is supposed to hold the hide in place as you work) or on a tarp on the floor. Use a meat slicer to scrape off any visible traces of flesh or fat, using quick, firm movements.

  • Part the skin immediately after skinning the animal. If you wait more than a few hours, the skin will start to break down and the skin will fall apart during the tanning process.
  • Be careful not to damage the skin while scratching the inside. Do not use a knife that is not designed to cut open skin, otherwise you risk puncturing or damaging the future leather.
Tan a Hide Step 9

Step 2. Salt the skin

After having skinned it, immediately lay the skin in a place sheltered from the sun and cover it with 1.5-2.5 kilograms of salt. Make sure it is completely covered.

  • During the following weeks, continue to add salt to the skin, until it becomes crisp.
  • If you notice that any part of the skin is bleeding fluid, cover that area with more salt.
Tan a Hide Step 10

Step 3. Gather your tanning equipment

The solution used for tanning is made up of both household products and chemicals that will need to be obtained elsewhere. Gather the following ingredients.

  • 7 to 8 liters of water.
  • 5 to 6 liters of wheat bran water. Do this by boiling 5 to 6 liters of water, before pouring them over half a kilo of bran flakes. Let the mixture sit for an hour, filter and save the water.
  • 8 cups of salt (non-iodized).
  • 1 cup and 1/4 of sulfuric acid.
  • 1 box of baking soda.
  • 2 large plastic bins.
  • 1 long stick which will be used to stir and move the skins.
Tan a Hide Step 11

Step 4. Tan the skin

Start by submerging the skin in clean water until it feels soft and supple. In this way, it will absorb the tanning products more easily. When the skin is ready to be tanned, remove the dry epidermis layer from the inner side of the skin. Then follow the next steps to tan the skin.

  • Place the salt in one of the large bins and pour 7-8 liters of boiling water over it. Add the wheat bran water and stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
  • Add the sulfuric acid. Be careful to wear gloves and other usual protection to avoid any burns.
  • Place the skin in the trash can and use the stick to push it under the surface, making sure it is completely submerged. Let it soak for 40 minutes.
Tan a Hide Step 12

Step 5. Wash the skin

Fill the second large bin with clean water while the hide is soaked in the tanning solution. Once the 40 minutes are up, use the stick to move the skin from the tanning solution to the clean water bath. Stir it well to rinse out the tanning solution. When the water looks dirty, empty the trash can and refill it with clean water. Wash the skin again for another 5 minutes.

  • If you plan to use the skin to make clothes, add a can of baking soda to the rinse water to neutralize the remaining acid. This will prevent this acid from burning the skin of people who will wear this garment.
  • If you don't plan on using the skin for clothes, you can forget about the can of baking soda. Indeed, neutralizing the acid would reduce its effectiveness in preserving the skin.
Tan a Hide Step 13

Step 6. Drain the skin before oiling it

Take the skin out of the rinse water and hang it on a frame to dry. Then apply beef foot oil all over its surface to condition the skin.

Tan a Hide Step 14

Step 7. Stretch the skin

Hang the hide on a frame or dryer to complete the tanning process. Place it in a place out of direct sunlight while it is drying.

  • After a few days, the skin should be dry and supple. Pick it up from the dryer and brush it with a wire brush until the leather looks soft and supple.
  • Let the skin dry completely again, which should take a few more days.

Advice

  • If you put wood ashes in the water while the skin is soaking, the hair should be easier to remove. This in effect turns the water into a dilute solution of caustic soda.
  • White pine smoke tends to darken the skin.
  • Dried corn on the cob produces a dense smoke and gives the skins a yellow color.
  • Before smoking a peel, collect some cedar and soak it in water. Wet wood will give excellent smoke without burning or damaging the skin. On the other hand, always watch it during the operation.

Warnings

  • While you are drying the skins, stay right next to it, with one eye on the fire.
  • Be extremely careful when scratching and stretching the skin. Work from you to go outward. The tools used to scrape and stretch the skin should not be too sharp or pointed, but since you will be exerting some pressure, they can still injure you.
  • Always wear gloves and eye protection when handling sulfuric acid. Indeed, this one has a very corrosive effect and can burn the skin as the eyes.

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