Here is some basic info to consider regarding tanning deer hides, whether it's deer or any other type of game pelt. 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 crystals recommended for the Auto Tanner:
- BuckTan Crystals
- Arrowhead Tan Crystals
Want to learn how to tan deer hide? First of all, you should know that all hides fall into one of two categories: 1) Mineral or 2) Synthetic. A mineral tan is made of a natural mineral (example aluminum sulfate). Synthetic tans consist of
man-made “synthetic” chemicals. Both types are proven and used widely in the taxidermy industry.
BuckTan and Arrowhead Tanning Crystals
This is a mineral that consists of three ingredients:
- Aluminum Sulfate – Acidic taxidermy agent that sets hair during pickling process.
- Salt –pulls natural fluids out of hide
- Soda Ash – a time-released neutralizer that slowly increases pH, locking-in taxidermy agents.
Aluminum sulfate is an acidic taxidermy agent that both “opens” the hide (lowering pH) and saturates the molecules / fibers. As aluminum sulfate lowers the pH, the hide is puffed up creating a more
porous surface which more efficiently accepts tanning agents. Once the hide is puffed-up, the pressurized aluminum sulfate replaces organic material within each molecule with the aluminum sulfate taxidermy agent. Note: With the pressure tan system “pickling” is automatically in the process – NO pre-salting is required!
Salt pulls natural fluids, dirt and contaminates out of the 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 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 must have adequate time to first open, penetrate and saturate 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 coating the fibers, soda ash is released “locking in” the 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 Crystals for the BuckTan Crystals.
BuckTan / Arrowhead Taxidermy Process
- Remove major meat and fat.
- Turn ears, lips, eyes and nose.
- Place in tanner, mix 1 pound of tanning crystal and 1 gallon of warm water per “deer hide volume”.
- Pressurize tank to 50 psi and set timer for 1 hour
- After 1 hour, remove hides from tanner and perform all “Final” fleshing.
- 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 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.
- After 3 hours remove hides from tanner and quickly (2-4 min.) rinse in cold water/Dawn dish washing detergent.
- Quickly (2-4 minute) rinse in clear/cold water
- Place in washer and set to “spin” until excess moisture is removed.
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