General Hide Tanning Information 

The Auto Tanner process requires minimal deer hide tanning supplies, including a “single mixture” that tans and neutralizes in one step. How is that possible? To answer that question, we need to look at the two types of tan crystals recommended for the Auto Tanner:

  1. BuckTan Crystals
  2. Arrowhead Tan Crystals

How to tan a deer hide? First things first, you should know that all animal hides fall into one of two categories:

  1. Mineral: A mineral tan is made of a natural mineral (example: aluminum sulfate for tanning hides).
  2. Synthetic: Synthetic tans consist of man-made “synthetic” chemicals. Both types are proven and used widely in the taxidermy tanning industry. BuckTan and Arrowhead Tanning Crystals - Aluminum Sulfate for tanning hides This is a mineral that consists of three ingredients:

Aluminum sulfate is an acidic taxidermy tanning agent that both “opens” the animal hide (lowering pH) and saturates the molecules / fibers. As aluminum sulfate lowers the pH, the animal hide is puffed up creating a more porous surface which more efficiently accepts taxidermy tanning agents. Once the hide is puffed-up, the pressurized aluminum sulfate replaces organic material within each molecule with the aluminum sulfate taxidermy tanning agent. Note: With the pressure tan system “pickling” is automatically in the process – NO pre-salting is required!


Salt pulls natural fluids, dirt and contaminants out of the animal hide, transferring such fluids from the hide and sending it into the waste fluid. Salt also prevents “acid swell”.


Soda ash is a “time-released” neutralizer that slowly increases the pH of the solution. The result is that soda ash neutralizes the animal hide (closes the tissue) and locks-in the agents. The important (proprietary) characteristic of our soda ash is that it is time-released. The aluminum sulfate for tanning hides must have adequate time to first open, penetrate and saturate deer hide molecules and hair fibers/roots. Therefore, the effectiveness of the soda ash must be put on hold for a time period. Once the aluminum sulfate has penetrated the molecules (osmosis) and coated the fibers, soda ash is released “locking in'' the taxidermy tanning agents and securing the hair root

Arrowhead Mineral and Synthetic Crystals

This is a blend of both mineral and synthetic agents that provide the best of both worlds; great stretch (from the synthetic agents) and positive hair-set (from the mineral agents). It is also a VERY effective bactericide that fully penetrates and tans raw skins. Similar to the BuckTan, Arrowhead is “Self Pickling” —no more salting mess in your shop! The Arrowhead process is EXACTLY the same as the BuckTan Process – just substitute the Arrowhead Tan Crystals for the BuckTan Crystals.

BuckTan / Arrowhead Taxidermy Process

  1. Remove major meat and fat.
  2. Turn ears, lips, eyes and nose.
  3. Place in tanner, mix 1 pound of tanning crystal and 1 gallon of warm water per “deer hide volume”.
  4. Pressurize tank to 50 psi and set timer for 1 hour
  5. After 1 hour, remove deer hides from tanner and perform all “Final” fleshing.
  6. Mix a new batch of 1 pound of  Crystals and 1 gallon of water per deer cape. This time - add 1/3 cup of BuckTan Hide Softening Oil and 2 cap-fulls of BuckTan Scour to tanning solution, place hides back in tanner, re-pressurize tanner to 50 psi for 2nd pressurized-tan and set timer for 3 hours.
  7. After 3 hours remove deer hides from tanner and quickly (2-4 min.) rinse in cold water/Dawn dish washing detergent.
  8. Quickly (2-4 minute) rinse in clear/cold water
  9. Place in washer and set to “spin” until excess moisture is removed.

Contact us for more information.



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