There are numerous methods of making hide tanning solutions. These 10 recipes cover every situation for tanning your hide and there is something for everyone amongst these recipes. The most popular hide tanning solution recipes are brain tanning and bark tanning.
The most popular hide tanning solution recipes are brain tanning and bark tanning.
Natural Tanning Solutions
Natural hide tanning recipes use no chemicals and all the ingredients can be found in nature with some recipes like brain tanning using ingredients from the animal itself.
Bark Tanning Recipe and Instructions
Bark tanning, also called vegetable tanning, takes a lot of time and more effort than other methods.
The veg tanning is very flexible. There are many factors involved, and each brings different results, depending on the purpose of your hide after finished tanning.
You can very easily regulate those results with few changes
- the type of bark you use,
- if you use cold or boiled tannins,
- the time you soak your hide,
- if and how you soften the hide,
- whether you leave hair on the hide or not.
The most popular trees used in tanning are mimosa, quebracho, oak, and chestnut. The first two contain tannins called catechols, which gives leather all shades of red, from pink to dark brown, and makes them more solid.
The second pair contains tannin called pyrogallols, which gives the leather all shades of yellow, from cream to light brown, improving water resistance and wearing. It is preferred tannin for treating leather for soles and upholstery.
To make a bark solution, you will need
- 30-gallon bucket – best is plastic or stainless steel, iron or aluminum reacts with tannins and may stain the leather.
- 30 – 40 lbs of bark collected in spring, depending on the size of the hide.
- 20 gallons of boiling water – you will probably have to boil it in batches. The water should be as devoid of any chemicals as possible—especially iron, which will give your hide black spots.
To make the bark tanning solution, you need to grind the bark for best results and pour it into the boiling water. To make the best out of the bark, leave the solution to strengthen for 15 – 20 days.
After that time, you need to strain the “bark tea” to pick out all the bark.
The bark tanning is done in few phases.
- The first phase is to pour 5 gallons of bark solution and dilute it in 15 gallons of clean water. Soak the hide in the diluted solution, stir every ten minutes for the first hour, and leave it for one week.
- The second phase is to drain 5 gallons of water from the container with your hide after the first week and add 5 gallons of undiluted solution to it. Let it sit for another week.
- The next phases are similar to the second one. Continue to drain water from the container every week and adding more undiluted solution in exchange until you run out of the bark tea.
The hide should be tanned throughout. The best way to check it is to cut off a small piece at the edge to see if there is any white color in the middle. If your hide is not tanned correctly, you can repeat the process.
- After the process is finished, take out the hide, and rinse it for two hours under cold water.
- Wring the water from the hide.
- After the hide is wrung, apply the oil. You can use the most common tanning oils – neatsfoot or mink oil.
- Hang the hide to dry.
This process is most popular with hairless hides used for leather.
Brain Tanning Recipe and Instructions
Brain tanning is a very natural tanning method. You get to use more of the animal you harvested. Each animal’s brain is big enough to tan its hide.
To use an animal’s brain in brain tanning, you have to cook the brain first. There are three ways of tanning with the brain, and each calls for a different brain-water ratio.
Forpaste consistency, you need to prepare0.5 parts of water for every two parts of the brain. In this way, you need to cover the hide with the paste, roll it and leave it overnight. The next day you need to scrape the paste and apply a new layer of paste. You need to repeat the process few times.
ForSlurpee consistency, everytwo parts of the brain need 1 part of water. This brain mix you have to rub thoroughly into the hide, making sure you treat every inch. It requires two layers to give the necessary results. The second layer put after the first one is nearly dried.
Brain soup consistencyrequiresfour parts of water for every two parts of the brain. You can either leave the hide overnight in the solution or soak it repeatedly 5 – 6 times, wringing each time, before leaving it to dry.
Apart from bark and brain tanning, there are few other natural tanning solutions. They are not as popular as the other two natural methods, but also not very complicated, so it is easy to try them out.
Distilled White Vinegar Tanning Recipe and Instructions
For each gallon of vinegar, you need 5 gallons of warm water. Soak the skin in the solution for three days. After that, rinse with cold water. You need to repeat the process three times.
After this solution, the hide will be somewhat stiff, so you need to apply a neatsfoot of mink oil and work the hide in your hands until it softens.
Egg Tanning Recipe and Instructions
For egg tanning, you can use chicken, duck, geese, or turkey eggs.
For every egg yolk, you need 1 – 2 teaspoons of water. The bigger eggs need more water than the smaller eggs.
To use this method, spread the egg tanning mix on the hide with a brush or sponge, and cover with a damp sheet (must be natural fibers) or towel. Leave the hide for 24 – 48 hours, depending on its thickness.
Rinse the egg yolk mix from your hide with lukewarm water.
Egg and Mayo Recipe and Instrcutions
For this mix, you need equal parts of mayonnaise and eggs.
Spread the mix properly on the hide, and cover with a damp cloth or towel. Leave it for 24 – 48 hours, and then rinse thoroughly.
Soap Tanning Recipe and Instructions
This method could be both chemical or natural, depending on the type of soap you will use.
Unless you are using homemade soap, the best store type for this tanning mix is castile soap, which is veg-based, and contains no synthetics or Fels Naptha soap.
You can also use any other soap that you are familiar with that removes heavy stains from your clothes.
How to prepare and use:
- Grate the soap like cheese and mix with enough water to dissolve it.
- Add an equal part of mink oil (the alternative to mink oil can be macadamia nut oil or sea buckthorn oil, both have a similar amount of palmitoleic acid).
- Evenly spread the solution on the hide.
- Roll the hide and leave it for 48 hours.
- Wash with warm water.
Chemical Tanning Solutions
Chemical tanning solution recipes use chemicals to soften the hide, these chemicals are usually some form of acids as they work quickly to break down the hide.
Chemical tanning is a much quicker method than vegetable tanning. After this type of tanning solution, leather and pelt are more water-resistant, but the downfall is the use of harsh chemicals.
Battery Acid Recipe and Instructions
Using battery acid for tanning is a very unconventional method, but it’s simple. It requires you to be careful, though, because the acid can give you a rather painful burn.
This recipe is designed for four deer hides. You can adjust the amount appropriately.
To preparebattery acid tanning solution, you will need:
- 7 gallons water,
- 2 lbs bran flakes,
- 2 lbs non-iodized salt,
- 3.5 cups battery acid,
- 2 boxes of baking soda,
- 2 plastic bin containers,
- wooden stick at least 4 ft long,
- protective gear.
How to prepare:
- Boil 3 gallons of water and pour on the bran flakes. Leave them soaking for an hour and then strain the water into the first plastic bin. Dispose of the bran, as you will no longer need it.
- Boil 4 gallons of water and dissolve the salt in the second bin. Add the strained bran water and set it aside to cool down to lukewarm temperature.
- Very carefully add the battery acid to the bran-salt mix. Make sure you wear protective gloves, mask, goggles, and your arms and legs are covered.
- Stir gently with a wooden stick without splashing. The best is to do it outside if possible. If not, make sure you have plenty of ventilation.
How to use:
- Put the hide in the battery acid solution for 40 minutes. Stir gently with a wooden stick from time to time to soak the hide properly.
- Prepare clean water with baking soda in a plastic container.
- Use the stick to take the hide out from the solution, and soak it for 5 minutes in water with baking soda to neutralize the acid.
- Hang the hide to dry. Check it every day, and when nearly dry but still moist, apply neatsfoot or mink oil.
- Stretch the hide on the wooden frame.
- When the hide is dry but still soft and flexible, take it down and give the flesh side gently scrub with a wire-bristle brush to make it softer. It will give the hide a suede-like appearance.
Warning:Don’t pour the acidic mix into your drain. You can neutralize it by adding few boxes of baking soda but make sure you do it outside. The reaction will produce a lot of bubbles and toxic vapor.
Soda and Alum Recipe and Instructions
Another chemical tanning solution. This one is not as aggressive as the battery acid one.
For soda and alum tanning solution, you need to prepare:
- 1 cup of non-iodized salt,
- 2/3 cup of washing soda,
- 2.5 cups of alum,
- 3 gallons of very warm water,
- plastic bin.
The soda-alum solution is a very simple one, and all you need to do is mix all the ingredients with water in the plastic bin and stir until completely dissolved. After the solution is ready, soak hide for at least 2 – 3 days.
Rinse the hide thoroughly with clean water and dry.
Ammonium Aluminum Recipe and Instructions
Ammonium alum is another one of the simple homemade tanning solutions.
You will need to prepare:
- 2.5 lbs of salt,
- 1 lb of ammonium alum,
- 5 gallons of water,
- plastic container.
How to prepare:
- Dissolve the salt in 4 gallons of warm water in the plastic container.
- Dissolve the ammonium aluminum in one gallon of water.
- Pour ammonium solution into the salt solution.
After the solution is ready, you can soak the hide for four days. When the hide is ready, take it out and rinse and properly.
It is recommended to use the ammonium conditioner after this tanning solution. To do that, you need to partially dry the hide in a shaded place and then rub in the fat liquor.
The recipe for ammonium conditioner is very simple. You need to mix 3.5 oz of neatsfoot or mink oil with 3.5 oz of water and 1 oz of ammonia.
Divide the conditioner in half, and rub one half of the mix first, leaving it for 1 hour. Next, rub the other half of the mix and cover the hide with plastic bags overnight.
Potassium Aluminum Sulfate Recipe and Instructions
Another very simple chemical tanning solution is potassium aluminum sulfate. It sounds like chemistry class, but you can easily get all the ingredients in stores.
This recipe will be enough to tan a beaver hide. You can adjust the amount of each ingredient as needed.
To prepare potassium alum mix, you will need:
- 1lb of potassium aluminum sulfate,
- 4 oz of washing soda,
- 2 gallons of water,
- 1 oz of sodium borate.
The science ends with the name of ingredients. Now you need to dissolve all the ingredients in one gallon of water and soak the skin in the solution for four days.
After the soak is finished, dissolve sodium borate in 1 gallon of water and use it to do the first rinse of the hide. After this process is done, rinse the hide in clean water, and hang it to drain.
This solution may make your hide a little bit stiff, so after draining the hide from water, apply neatsfoot or mink oil to the hide and let it dry for one night. Repeat the oiling process until the hide is soft.
How do you make homemade hide tan solution? ›
In a plastic bucket, dissolve 1 pound of ammonia alum in a gallon of water. Slowly pour the alum solution into the garbage can, mixing thoroughly. Soak the deer hide for four days, occasionally stirring to make sure it's well coated. Rinse thoroughly with running water.How do you use hide tanning solution? ›
Warm Hide Tanning Formula (HTG) by sitting bottle in pot of hot tap water for 30 min. The skin should be at room temperature, semidry, but still moist and flexible. Shake warm HTF well and apply an even layer to the flesh side. Apply with paint brush, or by hand wearing rubber gloves.What is the best oil for tanning hides? ›
Protal is an excellent tanning oil that may be applied to dry-tanned hides or tanned wet hides that have been drained. Protal is a sulfonated tanning oil that mixes readily with water.What are the ingredients in a tanning solution? ›
Ingredients. Some of the active ingredients found in common tanning lotions include melanin and L-Tyrosine. Other commonly found ingredients include tea oil, copper (in many different chemical compounds), green tea extract and many other natural oils.What chemicals are in hide tanning solution? ›
The most common tanning agents used in the U. S. are trivalent chromium and vegetable tannins extracted from specific tree barks. Alum, syntans (man-made chemicals), formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, and heavy oils are other tanning agents.How did pioneers tan hides? ›
A tanning mixture made of brains, liver, soapweed, and grease was rubbed into the hide. Tanning made it soft. "Then women had had a great deal to do when buffalo were killed. As soon as they had skinned the animal, they spread the skin on the ground and pegged it down to stretch and dry.How long can a deer hide sit before tanning? ›
Two days should be sufficient for a rabbit skin, while a deer hide may require up to 5 days. Since a hide cannot easily be over-tanned using this process, it would be better to leave the hide in solution too long rather than not long enough.Can you tan a hide with just salt? ›
Use 1/2 lb of table salt per gallon of water and extremely hot water to dissolve the salt. Mix thoroughly until salt is dissolved and let the water cool. Immerse the hide in the solution and leave for six to eight hours. Overnight is fine, but if you leave it too long, the hair will start falling off the hide.Why do you salt a hide before tanning? ›
Salting is one of the most important steps in tanning. Salting is what sets the hair and keeps the hide from decaying. Lay the hide out flat, flesh side up. Apply a heavy application of non-iodized salt.How do you soften a hide before tanning? ›
You should soak it in cool water several times to get rid of flesh, fat, and sinewy bits. After washing, you can apply saddle soap or mink oil to soften the leather. You can also use Mink oil or neatsfoot oil to condition the leather. Both of these oils are made from cow bones and have a lovely shine.
Do you stretch a hide before tanning? ›
Make sure that the hide is actually stretched, not just hung, on the drying rack. The more the hide is stretched, the larger it will be once the tanning process is complete.What oil makes you tan the fastest? ›
Italian food, anyone? Still, putting olive oil on your skin will cause your skin to tan more quickly than if you simply applied sunscreen or no oil at all. How does it work? Moore says olive oil, like other oils, attracts UV rays to the skin quickly.What tanning oil will make you the darkest? ›
The Bali Body Watermelon Tanning Oil provides the deepest, darkest tan out of all 4 tanning oils. It's enriched with watermelon seed oil, which stimulates the production of melanin in the skin to provide a deep tan.How do you get a deep dark tan? ›
The best way to develop the darkest of tans is to use a tan accelerator. Carrot Sun's Original Carrot and Tropical Fruits give the best results for developing a deeper and darker tan, making tanning easier, less timely, and creating better and longer-lasting results.Which ingredient is best for tan? ›
- Tomato. Tomato is a great ingredient when it comes to beauty and skincare. ...
- Gram flour. Gram flour acts great for your skin. ...
- Curd and honey. Curd and honey can be easily found at any household. ...
- Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is one of the most used ingredients as it has immense skin and beauty benefits. ...
- Cucumber And Milk.
Tropez's Jumbo Self Tan Express Mousse is one of Kim Kardashian's all-time favorite self-tanners, she previously revealed on her KKW blog. It's a lightweight, fast-absorbing tanning mousse that doesn't leave your skin feeling sticky after application.What is the safest tanning solution? ›
- Skinerals Onyx Self Tanner.
- The Organic Pharmacy Self Tan.
- Suntegrity Natural Self Tanner.
- Whish Coconut Milk + Verbena Self Tanner.
- Isle of Paradise Disco Tan Instant Wash-Off Body Bronzer.
- Tarte Cosmetics Better Bod Bronze & Contour.
“But there is a simple and safe way to tan a hide using household items like salt, baking soda, and vinegar.” Once the hide has been removed from the animal, it's ready for processing, but be sure to keep the skin in a cool, dry place while working with it.What salt is best for tanning hides? ›
In order to get the best results while tanning hides, most tanning experts recommend using pickling salt or non-iodized salt.What does borax do to a hide? ›
Borax is used for soaking hides and skins, for stripping vegetable tans and for neutralizing chrome tans. Boric acid is used mainly for neutralizing limed pelts. Hides and skins are usually cured by drying or salting to preserve them during storage or transportation before they are tanned.
How do Eskimos tan hides? ›
They tan all the caribou hides in the traditional way using only scrapers and water. Skins tanned in this way need to be kept cool or they will begin to fall apart.How did Eskimos tan hides? ›
Eskimo: “They scraped it off (the alder bark) in very fine pieces and rubbed it directly on the skin to be dyed. The dryer the skin the quicker it took the dye. Some skins required two or three applications.How do taxidermists preserve hides? ›
Salt draws the moisture out of the hide. After leaving the salted hide exposed to the air for 24 hours or more, sprinkle salt lightly over the hide once more. Then fold it up towards the skin side. Keep it cool until you can deliver it to the taxidermist.Is it better to let deer hang with hide on or off? ›
If you plan to age the deer, which will require a much longer hang time – and also a different subject for another day – I prefer to keep the hide on, which prevents the meat from drying out too quickly and protects it from discoloration/oxidation.Do deer hide when it rains? ›
Deer won't alter their behavior merely because it's raining. They simply meander more during daylight hours and extend their dawn and dusk routines because there is less daylight. The animals simply feel less threatened in periods of low light.Can you tan a fresh hide? ›
How to Tan a Hide with Salt. Fresh hides right off the animal should be cooled immediately. Trim off any flesh and scrape visible fat from the hide. Place the skin in the shade, laying it completely flat with the fur side down, preferably on a cold concrete or rock surface.Can you use Epsom salt to tan hides? ›
1 – Tan Animal Hides
One way to replace your worn-out clothes is to create news ones out of processed animal skins, and Epsom salt can help with the tanning process.
Every hide must be “pickled” before tanning, using 1 gallon of water per hide. Items needed for pickling include salt, citric acid and pH test strips. Citric acid can be found in the canning and jelly section of any grocery.How long will a salted hide last? ›
Salted hides can be kept up to one year and are resistant to temperature fluctuations. However, they must be stored in a certain manner after drying.Do you salt a hide before or after fleshing? ›
Salting before fleshing is definitely the way to go. Just be sure to remove any large or thick chunks of meat that are on the hide before applying the salt.
Should I soak a hide before fleshing? ›
Soak fresh hides for ten or fifteen minutes before fleshing. This soaking loosens up the tissues and washes out some of the blood and dirt. One can, however, flesh a fresh skin easily enough without soaking. If the skin is at all dried out, dry in spots, or completely dried, then soaking is definitely in order.What is the first step in preparing the hides for tanning? ›
To prepare the hides for the process of tanning, the hair, grease, fat and salt is removed, and then the hide is soaked in water. This time varies according to the starting hide and the desired finished product, but ranges from as little as six hours to a couple of days.Can you freeze a hide before fleshing? ›
Freeze. Roll hide up in tight bundle, tie, put in plastic bag, and freeze indefinitely. You can flesh first to reduce volume. If you have the freezer space, this is the easiest way to go.What is the last step in preparing the hides for tanning? ›
After fleshing, you'll remove excess hair by using chemicals like sodium hydroxide and calcium hydrosulfide. During the last few steps of tanning preparation, you'll treat and degrease the hides.How do you fix a stiff hide? ›
Grab two sides of the hide and rub or buff it across the edge as you pull it taut until it softens. Repeat for the entire hide. This process breaks the hardness of the hide. After softening, apply an oil specifically for keeping hides soft.Do you need to flip when tanning? ›
Don't Flip – Our tanning beds tan all sides of you at once – don't worry about flipping during the process. You might want to move your arms from your sides to over your head to get a tan on your underarm areas.What does smoking a hide do? ›
In order to combat this effect, traditionally tanned hides are laid over a smoky fire to “set” the tan and keep them softer if they happen to get wet. Smoking also adds a nice buckskin color to the hides as well. There are a number of ways to smoke a hide.Do you tan better with oil or nothing? ›
Tanning oils are able to offer a “quicker tan” as they stimulate the body to produce more melanin. When these oils are applied to the skin, it activates the melanocytes and causes them to produce melanin at a faster rate. If your skin has a higher concentration of melanin, your body will tan more easily.What can I use as a tan accelerator? ›
Carrot oil: contains carotene antioxidants, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have moisturising and cell-regenerative properties, and is also a natural tan accelerator which will boost your tan naturally.How can I tan faster with tanning oil? ›
Those of you who really want to speed things up should re-apply the tanning oil every 2 hours, especially if you are active (you sweat a lot), and/or you swim and go into the water frequently. If, however, you don't want to risk over-tanning too quickly, we recommend applying tanning oil every 3 to 5 hours.
Is baby oil good for tanning? ›
Dermatologists strongly agree that it is not safe to use baby oil for tanning. In fact, they say that there actually is no safe way to tan. Tanning simply isn't healthy. “[Baby oil] can make you tan more quickly because it absorbs the sun better,” says Sperling.Does baby oil and iodine make you tan? ›
The baby oil-and-iodine mixture promised a quicker, darker tan and most women we knew swore by it. The mixture itself wasn't really harmful. It was the fact that it drew all those rays to our unprotected skin that was the problem.Does more layers of tan make it darker? ›
Another way to make your tan darker is to apply two layers of self-tan or to top your tan up the day after the initial application.Do you tan better wet or dry? ›
Dry is better than wet. Take it slowly and gently. It may sound like a drag, but burning doubles your risk of skin cancer - and intermittent, intense sun exposure raises your risk by 70 per cent. For more information go to www.sunsmart.org.uk.Why is my tan not getting darker? ›
I have been tanning, but I'm not getting any darker. Now what? You may have reached a tanning plateau. Everyone has a limit to how dark they can get, but to try to get past your current color we recommend switching the types of beds you use every few tanning sessions.Can I use table salt to tan a hide? ›
This non-iodized, fine granulated salt is perfect for tanning hides. Whether you are applying salt to raw hide or mixing a salt-pickle, this is the highest quality salt available. The fine granulation makes it easy to press the salt into all areas of a raw hide.Is borax used for tanning hides? ›
Borax is used for soaking hides and skins, for stripping vegetable tans and for neutralizing chrome tans. Boric acid is used mainly for neutralizing limed pelts. Hides and skins are usually cured by drying or salting to preserve them during storage or transportation before they are tanned.How do you make a DIY tan? ›
- Yoghurt and Gram Flour. For effective tan removal at home, add Yoghurt to a spoonful of Gram Flour and combine them to form a thick paste. ...
- Aloe Vera. ...
- Yogurt and Turmeric. ...
- Potato. ...
- Gram Flour and Turmeric. ...
- Almonds. ...
- Raw Milk. ...
- Curd and Honey.
In order to get the best results while tanning hides, most tanning experts recommend using pickling salt or non-iodized salt. If you want to avoid salting, cleaning, and hanging the hides right soon after slaughtering, you may freeze them for months or even years until you're ready to tan them.How did Native Americans tan hides? ›
A tanning mixture made of brains, liver, soapweed, and grease was rubbed into the hide. Tanning made it soft. "Then women had had a great deal to do when buffalo were killed. As soon as they had skinned the animal, they spread the skin on the ground and pegged it down to stretch and dry.
How long can I leave a hide salted? ›
Salted hides can be kept up to one year and are resistant to temperature fluctuations. However, they must be stored in a certain manner after drying.Does borax damage leather? ›
Mild dish soap, on the other hand, possesses a basic pH level between 7-8, and other general cleaners, such as Borax, usually find their way to around a basic 10. The contrast between leather pH levels and the cleaners' during contact damages leather fibers and can weaken its integrity over time.Why do taxidermist use borax? ›
Many taxidermists prefer to use borax as a preservative for birds and small mammals. An excellent desiccant, Borax should not substitute a tanning system where a supple skin is required. Borax is an ideal preservative for bird taxidermy, study skins, preserving skins for fly tying etc.What colors make you tan? ›
The color tan has a brown tone, mix brown and white， and add some yellow and red shades, then you will get this gentle light brown shade.