How to Tan a Cow Hide Naturally
If you’re not familiar with the process of tanning cowhide, you can read about the stages here. You’ll learn how to tan cowhide with tannic acid, and oak bark tea, and leave the hair on. These steps all help to create a rich brown hide. After that, you’ll sand the hide to remove any remaining hair and skin.
Stages of tanning a cowhide
One of the easiest ways to turn cowhide into a beautiful leather product is to use a natural tanning process. If you want to preserve the softness of the cowhide and still make a beautiful leather product, tanning the hide naturally can help you accomplish this goal. Before you begin tanning a hide, you will need to flesh the hide. Fleshing involves removing any excess fat, muscle, and flesh from the hide. This process must be performed by hand and properly.
Using oak bark tea
The first step to tanning cow hides naturally is to gather a few oak barks. Oaks come in several varieties and most contain tannin. Some species are considered excellent for tanning, while others have low tannin content. To get started tanning, you should gather oak bark from your local area, since these are often readily available. Most oak barks contain fermentable sugars and acids, which make them ideal tanning materials.
Using tannic acid
Using tannic acid to re-tan cow hides is a traditional method of tanning that uses tree bark, or “vegetable tanning”. This process is known to take up to 6 months and can stain the hide’s fur, making it a less popular choice. To tan a cowhide, it takes approximately 100 pounds of tree bark.
Leaving the hair on
There are two ways to tan a cow or sheep hide. The first is to remove the hair. In order to do this, you need to stretch the hide and provide air circulation. Depending on climate and temperature, this process may take up to a week. The second method involves using a salt solution. You’ll need four gallons of water and two pounds of salt per gallon.
Using iodized salt
You can tan a cow’s hide using salt. But if you want to avoid the harmful effects of iodized salt, you can use bran flake water instead. But be careful, salted hides can attract bugs and wild predators, which can cause the fur to fall out or rot. Rock salt and odized salt both stain and eat into the hide. That’s why most tanners use fine, non-iodized salt. You can also buy livestock salt or cheap hay salt.