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Aluminum Sulfate Tanning

Fleshing and Salting

    1. After the cape or hide has been skinned from the carcass, remove as much meat and fat as possible from the hide. Split the lips, turn the ears, and take the cartilage out of the septum of the nose. The longer the hide remains in its raw state, the more likely the hair is to slip.

    2. Lay the hide hair-side down, flesh side up on a flat working surface. Salt the hide with a fine ground non-iodized salt. Thoroughly rub the salt into the flesh side. Never use rock salt or reuse old salt!

    3. Leave the hide salted for 12-24 hours.


Mix the pickle at the following proportions
For every 1 gallon of water add:

    1. 1 lb. Salt

    2. 1/2 ounce McKenzie Ultimate Acid, or 1 ounce of Oxalic Acid, or 3 ounces of Pickling Crystals, or the acid of your choice; the pH should read at 1.5 - 2.0.

    3. Place the salted hide into the pickle. The minimum amount of time for the hide to stay in the pickle is 72 hours. Remove the skin anytime during the pickle and shave the skin as thin as possible. The thinner the skin is shaved the softer and more flexible it will be. As soon as you are finished thinning put the hide back in the pickle.

    4. Once the allotted time for pickling has been completed remove the hide from the pickle and rinse in cold water.


    1. Degrease the skin if necessary. Skins such as Bear, Raccoon, Beaver all will require degreasing. Heavy degreasing can be done with 5003 Rittels Super Safety Solvent, 2 fluid ounces per gallon of water, leave the hide in the degreaser for 30 minutes then rinse in clear water. For light degreasing Dawn dish soap can be used at a ratio of ½ fluid ounce per gallon of water. Be sure to rinse all degreasing agents out with cool clear water.



Mix a neutralizer bath to the following proportions
For every 1 gallon of water add:

    1. 1 ounce of Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) - OR use 2 ounces of Borax

    2. Leave the hide in the neutralize solution for 15 minutes on light skinned animals or 20 minutes on deer etc.

    3. Remove the hide from the neutralizer and rinse in clean water.

    4. Rinse a second time in a bath of room temperature water. Hang and drain for 30 minutes.


Tanning with Aluminum Sulfate

    1. For every gallon of water add 1 lb of Aluminum Sulfate

    2. In a separate container, dissolve 4 ounces of Sodium Carbonate and 1 cup of salt to every ½ gallon of water.

    3. Very slowly pour the soda and salt solution in the alum solution and stir very well.

    4. Immerse the skins and stir frequently.

    5. Light skinned animals such as Squirrel, Bobcat, Fox, or Coyote will tan in 48 hours. Thicker skinned animals such as Raccoon, Beaver, will tan in about 3-4 days, and heavy skinned animals such as Moose, and Elk will tan in 5-6 days.

    6. It is often possible to tell when tanning is complete by cutting a sliver of skin from the edge. If the cut shows the same light color throughout its thickness, the tanning is finished.

    7. Hang the skin and let it drain for 20 to 30 minutes and then mix McKenzie Leather Oil 1 part oil to 1 part water or a 50/50 mix. Rub the oil/water mixture thoroughly into the hide.

    8. For rug work or furs the hide should be stretched and broken as it dries. Van Dyke's combination tool works very well for breaking the hide.

    9. If one has access to a tumbler, the hide may be tumbled for extra softness. A household dryer may be used provided it is set on NO heat.



    1. The skin may immediately be mounted after the Pro-Plus Oil has soaked in for a minimum of 8 hours.

    2. The skin may be rolled up and frozen. When ready to mount simply thaw and mount. To rehydrate after tanning soak in a water and bactericide for 2 hours. Roll up and cover with a large towel until completely rehydrated. Resoak for another half-hour if necessary.


Note: Van Dyke's Taxidermy Supply Co. offers these instructions in an advisory capacity and assumes no liability. Such information is the same as used in our own successful experiments, and since we have no control over the environment or the materials upon which our products or instructions will be used, no success is guaranteed. Trial must be performed to account for individual circumstances. In all suggestions, we recommend reading the formulas that have been provided for your evaluation. These are proven formulas that you may find beneficial, from the experience of other tanners.

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