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How to Make Hide Tanning Formula

by Gwendolen Akard
Deer hides are often tanned after the animal is killed.

Deer hides are often tanned after the animal is killed.

Salt and alum tanning is a method recommended by the New Mexico State University College of Agriculture for tanning hides at home. Salt and alum tanning can result in flexible hides, if done properly, but you do run the risk of producing stiff hides. However, it is the most inexpensive method of home tanning, and stiff hides can be reworked or retanned. Brain tanning is the most labor-intensive tanning method, but produces the best results with regards to hide quality.

Brain Tanning

Purchase pig or horse brain, or scoop out the animal's own brain. Put the brain into a blender.

Add a gallon of untreated water to the blender, either rainwater or bottled spring water. Water with chlorine in it will hinder the tanning process.

Blend until the ingredients are well-mixed.

Salt and Alum

Find a large plastic container, big enough to hold a gallon and a half, the foam overflow and the hide itself. Add 1 gallon of water to the container.

Dissolve 1 pound of ammonia or potash alum in the gallon of water.

Dissolve 4 ounces of crystallized sodium carbonate and 8 ounces of salt in a separate half gallon of water.

Increase the amounts of each solution proportionally when tanning large skins.

Pour the salt solution slowly into the alum solution, stirring constantly. Make sure no foam overflows.

Items you will need

  • Brain
  • Blender
  • Water
  • Large container
  • Ammonia, potash alum
  • Sodium carbonate
  • Salt

About the Author

Gwendolen Akard started writing professionally in 2004 for her high-school newspaper and hasn't stopped since. She began writing for various websites in 2008, focusing on fitness and music. Akard is pursuing bachelor's degrees in philosophy and music at Tufts University.

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