Introduction: How to Tan a Hide
Step 1: Materials
Step 2: Scrape the Hide
First to start off get your scraper. When holding both sides with your palms, lightly scrape the side opposite of the fur in straight motions. This is to scrape off the leftover skin and fats left on the hide so the hide will not rot.
Step 3: Cover With Salt
Completely cover with salt, not leaving any spots without it. After that lay it outside in the shade on a tarp or in a place with good ventilation and average temperature. It's better to put in on a tarp since it is going to make such a mess. Let it stay there for 2-3 days. (If you see a liquid forming on top of the salt, just put more salt on top until it is soaked in even more.
Step 4: Tanning Process
Shake all the salt off. If there are spots of salt that turned hard and can't be shaken off then use a wire brush and scrape it off. After that get your bottle of tanning solution and rub it all over the skin. You can lay it flat for this or you can hang it.
Step 5: Cover With Baking Soda
Leaving the tanning solution on the hide, sprinkle baking soda on the oils. (For a medium sized skin you should use about a whole box). The purpose of this step is to have the baking soda soak up the oils making it easier to get off. Another thing the baking soda does is bring the skins acidity back down to normal. Since baking soda is basic of the pH scale and the oils have acids in them, to eat perishable materials, adding the baking soda brings the acid levels down so they don't eat the material anymore.
Step 6: Neatsfoot Oil or Mink Oil
After scraping the baking soda off with a wire brush, next is to get a container of Neatsfoot oil or Mink oil. These oils are usually used on boots for waterproofing... And that's exactly what we are using it for. It also helps to cure the skin once everything is done. These oils can be bought at stores that sell boots and such things (Orcheln's Farm & Home, Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, etc). To apply to the hide, dip your fingers into the tub and lather it on like you would rub lotion on your own body.
Step 7: Stretcher
After putting the oil on the the hide, get your stretcher. This can be bought at stores like Cabelas or it can be made at home. Put the hide over the stretcher inside out and let it sit for a week. It should be very flexible once the week has passed. Take it off the stretcher and turn right side out.
Step 8: Washing
A very non-traditional way, but the easiest way, is to simply wash the finished hide in the washing machine. For best results use fabric softener and laundry detergent and run it with cold water. After it is done put it in the dryer and set it to air dry. After a while you will be able to take out your dry, clean, and great smelling fluffy hide!
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