How to Prepare Alligator Leather for Tanning

How to Prepare Alligator Leather for Tanning

February 28, 2019

Are you interested in preserving an alligator hide for display, or for use in leather products? If so, it’s important to have an understanding of the tanning process, especially if you intend to do the work yourself. If not, there are certain professionals who can assist you with tanning your genuine alligator skin in Baton Rouge, LA.

Here’s what you should know about preparing alligator leather for tanning:

  • Ice: Immediately ice the gator down, and let it sit overnight.
  • Skinning: The next day, after the gator has been thoroughly iced, you can skin it using the horn-back method. To do this, make an incision down the center of the gator’s ventral side from the chin all the way through the end of the tail. At this point you can carefully begin removing the skin from the gator. The feet can be left on the hide by cutting from the center of the foot straight to the center cut on the belly side.
  • Remove all bones and meat: This is a process that requires some care and a delicate touch, but make sure you remove all bones and meat before proceeding. You must also cut off the toes at the last joint on the toe bone—this will allow the toe nail to remain on the hide. Remove all of the tail bone with care as well, and get as much meat as possible from the tail and the back under the thick hide and scutes.
  • Bag and store: Once you’ve removed all the meat, bag it up and store it properly before proceeding with the rest of your pre-tanning processes.
  • Wash: Using a pressure washer, gently wash the fleshy side of the hide. Keep in mind that if you use too much pressure you can tear the hide—pressure washers don’t always have to be used for powerful blasting processes. This is, however, a great way to remove the remaining flesh so you’re left with just the hide.
  • Brine solution: Mix up 25 gallons of water, 50 pounds of salt, a pound of borax and a pint of bleach to create a brine solution, in which you’ll place the hide. You can mix it up effectively using a boat paddle. It will take a good deal of mixing to get that 50 pounds of salt to dissolve in the solution, so be patient.
  • Salt the hide: Salt the hide with a half inch of salt and roll it tightly. Then, tie the hide with large rubber bands or using some inner tube pieces, similar to how you’d tie a gator’s mouth, before lacing it into the brine solution. The salt wicks the brine solution into the hide to help with preservation. You can then allow the hide to sit in the solution for a week or so before removing it, unrolling it, washing it to remove all the salt and starting with the next solution.

For more information about preparing genuine alligator skin in Baton Rouge, LA for tanning, contact the experts at Acadian Leather today.

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