【 Vegetable Tanned Leather vs Chrome Tanned Leather 】 - Curtidos Menacho
Tanned leather
Leather is a versatile material used in the manufacture of various products, from clothing to furniture and accessories. However, not all leathers are the same. Vegetable and chrome tanning methods are two of the most used techniques, each with distinctive characteristics. In this article, we will examine in detail the differences between both tanning processes and evaluate their respective advantages and disadvantages. Our goal is to provide you with the necessary information so that you can choose the option that best suits your needs.

What is vegetable tanning?

Vegetable tanning is a traditional method of transforming raw hide into leather, using natural tannins extracted from plants such as the bark of trees (oak, chestnut, quebracho), leaves (mimosa) or even fruits (tara pods). This artisanal process, which has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries, is characterized by its respect for the environment and the obtaining of high-quality leather with unique properties.

Tanned leather

Characteristics of vegetable tanning:

Natural process:

 Unlike chrome tanning, which uses aggressive chemicals, vegetable tanning uses exclusively vegetable tannins, biodegradable and non-toxic.


Vegetable-tanned leather is known for its strength and durability, as the tannins form strong bonds with the proteins in the skin, creating a stable structure.

Natural patina:

With use and the passage of time, vegetable-tanned leather develops a unique patina, a surface layer that enhances its beauty and character.


This type of Leather is more malleable than chrome tanned leather, making it ideal for working by hand and creating pieces with complex designs.

Absorption of oils and waxes: 

Vegetable tanned leather It has the ability to absorb and retain oils and waxes, which provides it with impermeability, flexibility and resistance to dirt.

Vegetable tanning process

    • Skin preparation: Hair, grease and other residues are removed from the raw skin.
    • Tanning: The leather is immersed in baths of tanning solutions rich in tannins for several weeks, allowing them to penetrate the fibers and stabilize them.
    • Washing and oiling:Excess tannins are removed and the skin is oiled to maintain its flexibility.
    • Drying and finishing:The skin is air or vacuum dried, and a final finish is applied to protect it and give it the desired aesthetics.

Advantages of vegetable tanning

  • Eco-friendly: Reduces the environmental impact of the tanning industry.
  • Healthy: Does not contain harmful chemicals.
  • Superior quality: Produces a durable, resistant leather with a unique patina.
  • Versatile: It can be used in a wide variety of products.
  • Aesthetic: It gives a natural and elegant look to products.

Disadvantages of vegetable tanning

  • Slow process: Requires more time and labor than chrome tanning.
  • Higher price: Vegetable-tanned leather is usually more expensive than chrome-tanned.
  • Water sensitivity: Untreated leather can absorb water and warp .

In summary, vegetable tanning is a traditional and sustainable method of obtaining high-quality leather with unique properties. Its use is associated with artisanal, durable and environmentally friendly products.

In summary, vegetable tanning is a traditional and sustainable method to obtain high-quality leather with unique properties. Its use is associated with artisanal, durable and environmentally friendly products.

Tanned leather

What is chrome tanning?

Chrome tanning is an industrialized method of transforming raw hides into resistant and flexible leather. This process, patented in 1858, has revolutionized the leather industry due to its speed, efficiency and versatility. Today, it is estimated that more than 80% of the leather produced worldwide is tanned using this method.

What is chrome tanning based on?

Chrome tanning is based on the action of chromium salts, mainly chromium (III) sulfate, on the proteins of the skin, mainly collagen. These salts penetrate the molecular structure of collagen, forming chemical bonds that stabilize the skin and turn it into a material resistant to putrefaction and the action of microorganisms.

In summary, Vegetable tanning is a traditional and sustainable method to obtain high-quality leather with unique properties. Its use is associated with artisanal, durable and environmentally friendly products.

Tanned leather
Tanned leather

Chrome tanning process:

  1. Skin preparation: The raw skin undergoes a cleaning process to remove hair, grease and other debris.
  2. De-liming: The lime used in the de-liming and degreasing process is removed.
  3. Pickling: The skin is immersed in a acid solution to open the pores and facilitate the penetration of the tanning agent.
  4. Tanning: The leather is introduced into a solution of chromium salts, where the tanning agent is fixed and transformation into leather.
  5. Washing: Excess chromium salts and other chemicals are removed.
  6. Oiling: applies an oil or grease to improve the flexibility and impermeability of the leather.
  7. Finishing: Various products are applied to give the leather the desired properties (color, texture, shine, etc. .).

Advantages of chrome tanning:

  • Speed: The chrome tanning process is considerably faster than vegetable tanning, taking about a day.
  • Efficiency: Allows you to obtain a greater amount of leather from the same amount of raw hide.
  • Versatility: Tanned leather Chrome is more versatile than vegetable tanned leather, as it can be dyed in a wide range of colors and finished in a variety of ways.
  • Cost: It is a relatively inexpensive tanning method. economic.

Disadvantages of chrome tanning:

  • Environmental impact: The use of chromium salts, especially if not managed properly, can cause environmental pollution.
  • Lower durability: Chrome-tanned leather is usually less durable than vegetable-tanned leather.
  • Organoleptic properties: chrome-tanned leather Chrome may feel and smell less pleasant than vegetable-tanned leather.

In summary, both vegetable tanned leather and chrome tanned leather have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice will depend on your individual needs and preferences, as well as the responsible and sustainable production of the leather. By making an informed decision, you can ensure you choose leather that meets your needs and is respectful of the environment and human health.

However, it is worth stating that when speaking in terms of sustainability and ecologytoday there are different laws that force leather industries in charge of the treatment and production of animal leather to comply with certain regulationssuch as the recycling of chrome and other materials used during the tanning process, which allow it to not be polluting or dangerous for humans.

This is why at Curtidos Menacho we are a company leather sales that are conscious with our responsibility to take care of you and the planet, our skin treatment is carried out in compliance with the REACH regulation. So today we invite you to review our catalog of animal leather skins manufactured 100% here in Spain, in addition to having a wide variety of colors and textures that you cannot miss for your product production leather.

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