Leather Tanning Process

Leather Tanning

Leather Tanning

Leather tanning creates a durable product that is created by tanning/coloring an animal skin, usually cowhide.  Mainly used to make various products such as: furniture, shoes, jackets and handbags.  In this weeks blog post we will explore the different ways that leather hides are tanned.

The first step in tanning begins with skinning.  Removing the outer layer of skin after the animal is killed is how skinning is carried out.  Typically done by the slaughterhouse or the farm.  Leather is then cured by salts to prevent bacteria from growing on the skin.  Curing also removes any moisture or water substance from the hide.

After the skin is prepared the actual tanning takes place:

  • Chrome-tanned leather, this type of tanning uses chromium salts that result in a soft and pliable leather. This is the most popular type of tanning and allow the ability to produce more colors.
  • Vegetable-tanned leather is a tanning method that uses ingredients such as bark that is found in fruit, leaves and types of wood.  Vegetable tanned leather is normally used for thicker leathers that are used in saddle or harness making.

This process has been around for a very long time.  At first leather tanning was considered a trade only practiced by the poor.  This was due to the foul smell from the animal skins that tanning produced.  In the early to late 1800’s leather was primarily used for boots and shoes and was even used as body armor at times.

Today leather is used for all sorts of products including:

  • Furniture
  • Automobiles
  • Handbags
  • Shoes
  • Belts
  • Jackets
  • Leathercraft

These are just a few examples showing the diversity of leather.  We hope that our first blog entry is educational and helps better understand the many steps that creating leather.  Please contact us for any questions.

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