Ive worked on several pelt tanning methods and i can’t find a perfect one. Ive tried egg yolk tanning method, pickle in salt and alum tan, and a trappers tanning solutions directions way. Yet they all seem to hardened and dry, unable to break the skin and create soft supple leather. One old pelt that slipped really bad had come out with a soft leather with the tan solution i bought online, yet the fur is still falling out so i can’t even pet the fur. Any tips on a method that could work for me and cheap? My funds are low so i cant buy any more of the trappers tan solution sooooo, Im unsure of what to do. I have enough for my ongoing opossum, but my frozen pelts must be done soon, my parents are complaining about freezer space. EeeekΣ(゜ロ゜;)
Okay, so, egg tans are not true tans and very difficult to get to turn out right. All primitive tans are. They are very labor intensive and require hours and hours of constant breaking as it dries. It’s not for beginners of tanning. You need to get the fundamentals down.
Start with the modern tanning process, which can be broken down like this.
1. Thaw whole carcass
3. Rough flesh, get all larger meat and fat off. Don’t really worry about the membrane here.
4. With fine ground salt, salt flesh side and drain by tilting the surface the pelt is on.
5. Come back 24 hrs later and repeat step 4. Repeat until hard and dry.
6. Rehydrate in a lukewarm water bath or mild brine. I’d do a mild brine and even add a little citric acid if it’s a greasy skin or if it was prone to slippage.
7. You may want to add degreaser or downy.
8. Salted skins are usually ready in minutes to hour. It should be limp all over like a noodle, not just pliable.
8a. If still not Rehydrated, put sopping wet into a garbage bag, tie it off, and throw in the fridge overnight.
9. Create a pickle bath. 1 gallon of water + 1lb of salt + Enough acid to do the pH below 2. This is typically about 1 pound of Alum, 6oz of citric acid, 1tbs of Oxalic acid, or whatever the directions on your acid say. I’m a fan of Oxalic acid as its very economical. Drops pH like a rock with only a tiny amount. I buy it as “Savogran wood bleach” at a hardware store for $7 for almost a pound and it lasts me a month or two, whereas $7 of Alum or citric acid would last me one or two buckets.
10. Check the pH, submerge the skin for about 1 or two days. Stir/agitate and Check it and the Ph daily, esp at first because it tends to rise. Finish fleshing and get a the membrane off. An angle grinder or drill with a wire wheel or cup brush really takes down the time.
11. Throw back in the pickle for another day or two. Take out and shave. This means to thin the hide. Some animals don’t need to be shaved really, like foxes and rabbits. Some only need it on their neck and shoulders. Again, am angle grinder or drill helps here, but you can use a Skife (second best option), a glass scraper, or scalpel.
12. Rinse, return to the pickle for a few hours to a day. You can skip this technically, but I like returning to the pickle for a bit after shaving.
13. Degrease. Solvent degreaser can be added to the pickle, which I prefer, or you can do it outside the pickle after shaving.
14. Return to the pickle for another day.
15. Whip up a neutralizing bath of 1 gallon of water, handful of salt, and a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak the skin for 15 minutes, agitating occasionally. Rinse and hang to drain. Most tans work better on neutralized skins.
16. While draining, follow the directions on your tanning package. I like Rittels EZ tan.
17. Soak in warm water for the recommended about of time. Keep a heat source near it like a heater fan to keep the bucket warm, it’ll tan faster. Agitate frequently. Check pH often. Usually needs to be at a ph of 3.5-4.
18. Generally after 12-24 hours, drain and Rinse. Some require neitralization.
19. Take a special tanning oil that must be mixed with water such a Proplus. Liberally apply to the skin until it won’t soak up any more, you’ll be able to tell when it happens. A little too much is fine. navoid the fur. If any gets on the fur, you can clean it off later with acetone.
20. Fold up fur out and store in a warm place for roughly 6 hours.
21. Either freeze or get ready to start breaking. Pull and stretch the hide in different directions all over a few times, then let it dry more. Keep doing this until it’s like 95% dry. Then do it constantly until dry. Make sure to get the edges really well.
22. Rub over a wooden beam, table corner, etc. To break it further.
23. Sand down with sand paper.
24. Apply a small amount of a nice finishing oil like neatsfoot.
Congrats, you’re done! FnT post has a submersible tanning kit like this, and sells everything you need. Trubond has another kit for Wallhanger a lot like that seems to create really supple tans.
Once you understand the tanning process more, then give primitive tans a try.