Q:

What are some different ways of tanning animal hides?

A:

Quick Answer

The conventional method of tanning animal hides involves skinning, salting and pickling the hide. A less conventional method employs the animal's brain instead of the pickling process. For both methods of tanning, start by removing all fat from the hide and cooling it.

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Full Answer

For the traditional salting method, use 3 to 5 pounds of uniodized salt to cover the hide where the flesh was attached. Allow the skin to dry until it is crisp, which could take several days to several weeks.

Once dried, soak the skin in water until flexible. Make a solution of 3 gallons of boiling water and 2 pounds of bran flakes, and allow the mixture to sit for at least one hour before straining. Boil 4 gallons of water, and add 16 cups of salt. Stir until dissolved, and then mix the brown liquid bran. When the concoction cools to a lukewarm temperature, add 3 1/2 cups of battery acid.

Place the skin in the solution, and stir with a long wooden spoon. Allow it to soak for 40 minutes, and then rinse it with clean water. Drape the skin over a chair to drain, and apply neatsfoot oil to the skin side before placing it on the stretcher.

To use the brain tanning method, remove the fat from the hide and the animal's brain from its skull. Cook the brain in 1 1/2 cups of water for 10 minutes, mash until an oily liquid forms, and divide the product in half. Use sandpaper to rough up the skin surface before rubbing half of the brain oil onto the pelt. Repeat by adding the second half of the brain oil, and then allow it to set overnight under a warm, wet towel. Smoke in a teepee to tan.

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