How to Soften Fur Hides

by Robert Preston
A deer hide must be softened for use as clothing.

A deer hide must be softened for use as clothing.

In addition to hunting for meat, many hunters take the hides of the animals that they hunt and use the skins to create clothing, rugs or other household items. Using the hides of your animals decreases the waste of hunting and it honors the animals, too. Animal hides often stiffen after the animal is killed, necessitating a process to soften the fur hide. Curing the hide and rubbing it over a dull surface breaks down the tissues of the hide to create a softer final product.

Mix the alum in a bucket with one gallon of warm water until it is fully dissolved.

Combine the salt in a barrel with four gallons of cold water.

Pour the bucket into the barrel and stir vigorously.

Place the hide in the barrel and submerge with the stick.

Soak the hide for about one week, stirring the solution several times throughout the day.

Remove the hide from the barrel and allow it to drain, then rinse with cool water to remove the solution.

Lay the hide in direct sunlight to partially dry, then rub it with foot oil when it is damp. Blot any excess oil with a towel.

Flip the hide and repeat Step 7 on the second side.

Drape the hide over a stiff, smooth object, such as a pole, and drag the hide back and forth to break up the tissues and soften the hide. Add oil as needed if the hide dries out during the softening.

Items you will need

  • Bucket
  • 1 pound alum
  • Barrel
  • 2-1/2 pounds salt
  • Stir stick
  • Neat's foot oil
  • Cloth

Photo Credits

  • NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images