Ecological leather tanning is posible!
We know the ecological impact caused by tanning leather in an industrial way, due to the toxic effluents that they produce because they are acids and heavy metals. Home methods for tanning leather are never satisfactory and the results are not as expected.
We are going to show you an alternative technique of artisanal tanning, without the need for sophisticated, no need professional machinery and the only chemical agents are used: Shampoo, Common Salt, Alum, Chrome Salts (very little quantity), Garnish Oil (for leather and mounts) and Aguaras.
This method is considered ecological because no polluting liquids are discharged into the environment, but rather the solutions are periodically renewed by adding salts, maintaining their constant density. It is recommended for this method to use skins of small animals.
Materials and Tools for ecological leather tanning
✅ 3 buckets of 100 liters.
✅ Cement sink type washing clothes with a faucet.
✅ Galvanized sheet to support skins
✅ Spatula, knife and large scissors.
Now that we have all the tools me need, we can proceed with the leather tanning and the step by step of it:
Greening of the skins
The skins are received dry and to start the process, they must first be given the necessary moisture, the natural moisture that the live animal's skin had. For this, the skins are immersed for 24 hours in a water solution with 2.5% common salt. It is necessary to remove periodically if the skins are many.
Remove the meat
Once the 24 hours of soaking have passed, with the help of a spatula, the skin is stripped of all meat and fats. So that the leather is completely clean so that future solutions can penetrate the leather tanning process.
Washing and bleeding:
The skins are washed manually using 2cc of shampoo per skin and plenty of water. The skin is verified to be completely clean when the shampoo foams up sufficiently and rinse well with plenty of water.
Pre-tanned with Alum
The solution is prepared in 100-liter pans containing 10% alum salts and 0.4% common salt. The important thing is that this solution is not thrown away, but is used for the next batch of skins. The skins remain totally submerged for 5 days, removing them 4 times a day.
Final Chrome Tanning
This step can be skipped if chrome is not available. An identical solution to the previous one is prepared, but with the addition of chrome salts, where the skins remain for 5 days. This solution is also not thrown away, it is reused for the next batches of leather. After 5 days, rinse with plenty of water.
Drying and Lubrication
After rinsing, the skins are drained well. The skins are dried in the shade and after rubbing them manually on the edge of a machete nailed upside down, the so-called garnish oil is applied on the meat side, then they are folded for 24 hours.
Oiled hides are split open and should be dried again in the shade until slightly pliable. Before it dries, they must be rubbed again on the machete. After a last rubbing, they pass for 3 hours to a concrete mixer with sawdust, whose function is to achieve the shine of the hair. They shake well so that all the sawdust falls out. Finally they are combed with a metallic type comb. They are staked by nailing them with the hair facing inwards on a plank, always symmetrically and without making too much tension.
And this is how he proceeds to ecologically tan leather, I hope it will be very helpful.
Final thoughts about ecological leather tanning:
We have to keep in mind that leather tanning depends a lot on what type of leather is used. This method mentioned above works very well with fur from small animals, such as rabbits, otters, squirrels, and other wildlife that size.
For larger hides such as cattle (cows, deer, elk, buffalo, etc.), the process is similar, but they require a little more work to make the tanning as flawless as possible. We hope very soon to publish another "how to" for the technique of tanning large animal skins like the ones mentioned above.
The aforementioned techniques are of an artisanal nature, it is an alternative option for people who are interested in the manufacture and design of leather articles and clothing.