Thursday, June 16, 2022

How To Brain Tan A Hide

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Brain Tanned Hides Increases Self

How To Brain Tan Moose Hide, Taught By An Indigenous Woman

Of course, there is a lot more to the tanning of hides than is discussed here, which is why, if you want to take your research further, you should find a local craftsperson to teach you the trade.

The main reason for learning to brain tan hides, compared to learning to tan with synthetic products, is that it means that you can be completely self-reliant, using nature’s chemicals to do your work for you. In a survival situation, the more that you can do without requiring manufactured products the better, as you don’t know when you’ll next have access to them.

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  • Two Methods Of Tanning

    When youre learning how to tan hides, you should think about how you want to use your finished product. If you want to make your own clothes, bags, shoe laces and other small things, youll want to use the process of brain tanning. On the other hand, bark tanning makes very strong water proof leather goods for saddles, holsters, heavy duty bags, rifle cases, and other similar items.

    While both processes will produce beautiful hand crafted hide products, knowing how to tan hides using the brain tanning process will ultimately be more useful to you in a post crisis, mainly because it is useful in creating products that will help meet your basic needs such as clothing.

    How Is Brain Tanned Leather Made

    This kind of leather comes from wild game such as deer. The brains of these animals have enough of the right acids and chemicals to tan their hides. Because of the specialized nature of brain tanning, it is not carried out on a large commercial scale. Instead it is used by hunters to preserve the hides of fresh kills.

    This method of brain tanning was used by Native Americans, who continue to tan hides with it today. Animals that have enough oils and tannins in their brains for this purpose include deer, cows, raccoons and beavers. Compared to chrome tanning and vegetable tanning, this method is cheaper and requires fewer resources. Its also more environmentally friendly.

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    What Youll Learn With The Online Hide Tanning Course

    Instant access to clear, high-quality videos with step-by-step guidance to tanning a hide


    Explore how brain tanning works to create a beautiful hide, what equipment you need to get started on your journey, and how to prepare your materials for the first steps.

    Fleshing and Scraping

    Learn how to flesh a hide, prepare the hide for scraping, scrape the hide, and prepare for wringing.

    Wringing and Opening

    Set up your own wringing station, make a hide stake, and wring and open your hide.


    Make a brain or egg solution to brain your hide, and then wring and open and brain again and again and again!


    Prepare your hide for softening, learn the techniques to use on dry or wet hides, and discover the simple trick to know when the process is done.


    Clear steps for smoking your hide and ensuring that it is preserved, supple, and ready to use.

    What Our Hide Tanning Students Have To Say

    How to Brain Tan a Deer Hide. Tanning your own leather is a time ...

    As a hunter, the hide tanning class offered by Wild Abundance gave me the skills needed to fully utilize the animals I harvest. Im no longer troubled by the fact that Im wasting a valuable part of the deer. I tan my own hides now, and, thanks to Wild Abundance, I have the confidence, ability and knowledge to do so in my own backyard.

    Natalie gives very clear instructions and lots of support along the way, and by the end I was SO proud of my finished hide!

    This class with all its subtle tips and tricks made the process of brain tanning extremely clear and concise. Natalies expertise is incredible, as her insights surely saved me many hours of work and much frustration. The class was an absolute pleasure, as there is nothing quite like learning to turn a rotting deer skin into a soft, supple, extremely tough piece of buckskin!

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    Advantages Of Brain Tanned Leather

    While brain tanned leather is a niche product produced in small quantities, it is a traditional way of manufacturing leather that is ages old. It is an important heritage of certain tribes in North America which should be preserved. It is also environmentally friendly due to using few chemicals and less water than vegetable tanning or chrome tanning.

    Getting Ready For Your Brain Tanning Solution: Scraping Membraning Wringing

    Heres where the hard work begins! Animal skins have layers of different kinds of tissues above and below the thick part we turn into leather. Beneath the hair is a layer of grain that holds in the hair. This needs to be removed. It can be very tricky to get all the grain off as it is quite well attached to the hide and very hard to see. Its best to learn about this visually, which is one of the reasons we created the Online Hide Tanning Course. So, if you try this step and find it difficult, consider signing up for much more specific and detailed instruction.

    Using a careful, methodical approach is most likely to yield success. Scrape a small area at a time, with a good amount of force. We like to start scraping in the middle of the hide. Its easiest to remove the grain if you scrape from an area with no grain into an area with the grain still attached. As you learn how to tan a hide, this part of the process will become more clear, but not necessarily physically easier.

    Watch the video below for more instruction on scraping.

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    Smoking The Skin After Tanning

    Two more steps remain before we can call the job done. After you have completed your tanning, if you want a material that is more durable for outdoor wear, you will need to thoroughly smoke your hide . The reason why buckskin used in art, artifacts, jewelry, clothes etc. is usually tan in color is because it was smoked. Smoking the skin is said to waterproof it. As explained above, the smoke penetrates the fibers you have separated with the brain lipids and the stretching and essentially seals them open. After your skin is tanned and then smoked, if it gets rained on or even submerged it will then dry soft. Sometimes you will see white buckskin. For example, there are white colored Native American buckskin dresses in museums. It is said that buckskin was normally not smoked for ceremonial wear or for any special item that would not be exposed to the outdoors. So it is up to you to smoke your finished skin or not. The more thoroughly you smoke the skin the darker the color will be and the more the durable it will be. Different woods also create different colors. You will have to experiment. I smoked my moose skin inside of my fish smokehouse using rotten cottonwood stumps .

    Skinning And Saving Brains

    Brain Tanning Animals: How To Brain Tan and Soften Fur Hides

    If you want to tan your own hide, the first thing to think about is doing a careful, non-rushed, job skinning your kill. The more holes in the skin, the more work you will have in the end. But most often there will inevitably be some holes so do not despair as these can all be sewn up later.

    The second most important thing in the field is to make sure you do not forget to retain the animal’s brains. I won’t go too deep into the science on this here, but the gist is that the lipid breakdown of animal brains provides wild nature’s perfect solution for penetrating and expanding the micro-fibers of skin and holding them open enough for the hide to remain soft and flexible without turning hard again . I am not sure exactly how, but somehow hunter-gatherers the world over figured this out eons ago. The long told saying is that “every animal has enough brains to tan its own skin.” This fundamental knowledge is a core-attribute of our human legacy without it we would probably have never been able to survive long-term in northern environments.

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    Extra Optional Step Oiling

    Most tanners recommend oiling the leather after it is smoked and working in gently throughout the hide to increase softness and seal in the color. Neats Feet Oil is the most often used commercial hide tanning product for this task, but Mink oil is just as good, in my opinion, and something most homesteaders already having laying around for working on their saddles or kids ball gloves.

    Coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, or vegetable oil can also be used. Some tanners apply oil both before and after smoking to help ensure the leather does not dry out too much and crack during the smoking process.

    The Brain Tanning Process

    Learning how to tan hides is slightly complex and you will need to follow the steps carefully and precisely without omitting anything. The nine steps to tanning hides using the brain method include:

    1. Clean the flesh side of the hide with a knife removing all flesh and blood stains.

    2. Soak the fleshed hide in clean water for a complete 72 hours. If you want a furless skin, attach the hide to a tree and scrape off the fur. Scrape against the grain of the hair.

    3. Soak your hide in a mixture of brains and water. Each animal has just enough brains to tan its own hide. Simmer the brains in water with a little fat then rub on both sides of the hide. Roll up tightly and let it set overnight.

    4. Twist the hide into a tight rope. Fasten one end to a solid stick in the ground and pull the other end so you can wring it out while twisting.

    5. Using your hands and feet, stretch the hide out as far as you can. Then punch holes around the hide and fasten it to a wooden frame to further stretch it out.

    6. Turn to hair side and work hide with a tool to soften it.

    7. Once its soft, dry and pliable, its ready to be smoked. Sew up the hide to make a bag with a hole at one end. Invert bag over a hole about a foot wide and half as deep.

    9. Smoking the hide gives it its color. A non-smoked hide will stiffen up after getting wet.

    Note: Each animals brain provides the right amount of matter to tan its hide. Convenient, huh?

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    Start Now To Learn How To Tan Hides

    Like many skills that are useful in times of economic collapse and worldwide chaos, the time to hone your skills is not after disaster strikes its now. Post crisis, you will have too many other things to worry about to try and acquire new skills. Learning how to tan hides long before you actually need to do it is the easiest way to be prepared with a means to make necessary items for family use or items to barter with to help your family financially.

    Be extra prepared by storing a number of hides until you actually need them. You should also take on the challenge of learning both of the different processes and know what you can make from each process.

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    How to Brain Tan a Deer Hide

    Smoking a hide

    6. Smoking the Skin All Indian tribes may not have universally practiced this step, but by smoking the skins they could be softened easier after washing or getting wet. As a bonus, insects were less likely to investigate a smoked skin. Smoking was accomplished by hanging the skin over a slowly smoldering fire in order to absorb the fumes. Sometimes the skins were hung up in buildings called smokehouses, which were designed especially for this process.

    Once the smoking was completed, you had yourself a usable, posable, animal skin perfect for home or…wherever else you wanted to keep animal skins. Perhaps your creepy uncle would have appreciated some as a Christmas gift.

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    Why Learn To Brain Tan

    When you know how to brain tan, a discarded deer hide becomes a valuable, useful resource. The buckskin made through this process is uniquely strong, supple, durable, breathable and deliciously smoky smelling. Its quite unlike anything thats available commercially.

    Not only is the product of brain tanning wonderfully cool, the process itself is also rewarding and magical. Its an enriching thing to do on your own or with friends and family including children. Weve had families work on hides together, and our youngest official student was 12 years old at the time.

    Hide Skinning In Native America

    Skinning and tanning procedures similar to those described on this page were used by most of the pre-contact Native groups in America. Tanning was done primarily by the Indian women, who were the worldâs masters at processing animal skins into usable buckskins and furs. Their buckskins were much stronger than cloth, yet with these certain methods, the hides were made as soft as the softest material. They were able to do this by using a small collection of tools, all made from the natural materials found in their environments rock, wood, or animal bone. The tanned hides were made into tipis, clothing, and rugs. A familyâs buckskins could get wet multiple times over and yet still dry to be as soft as ever because of the womenâs expertise in properly processing the skins. American Indians developed brain tanning before recorded history to process animal skins into usable material. But it was unfortunately considered by many early settlers as inferior to modern tanned leather. However, brain tanning is an ideal method for home tanners because the only tanning agent needed isâ¦well, animal brains! No acids or hazardous chemicals are required for these babies! The methods described here are more or less the same as those used to create the buckskins and furs tanned by early Native Americans. Native skinning and tanning processes included at least the following basic steps:1. Removing the Skin From the Animal

    Scraping a deer skin

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    S Of The Leather And Hide Tanning Process

    Hide Tanning may be broken down into several phases, depending on where you get your information. I’ve attempted to condense them here. Also, don’t forget to check out the discussion that follows this article. This page now has a plethora of information.

    There appears to be a considerable misunderstanding as to what it means to maintain, tan, or break a hide among the various authorities. The stages on how to tan hides may be divided into many sections, some of which are left out, or they may be combined into a single section.

    • Skinning
    • Fleshing â remove all fat and tissues
  • Preserving/Curing â freeze or salt â salt , alum â inhibit bacterial activity to keep hides fresh salt and leather in equal proportions
  • Washing/De-greasing â If the hide is very fatty, it might need to be washed
  • De-hiring â if you want leather â lime â skip this step if you want to tan a hide with the fur left on
  • Thinning â Dry Scraping
  • Tanning â Pickling â Neutralizing â Uses an acid tanning solution to prepare the cells of the hide for tanning â test for completeness, cut a little piece from the edge, examine to see whether the color has fully permeated the hide â or put a small piece in boiling water if it curls, it is not ready. It needs to be well washed and neutralized, and you should be cautious about where you discard the wastewater. Acid types include battery acid and oxalic acid.
  • Products Brain Tanned Leather Is Commonly Used For

    Brain tanning deer hide “how to” at the VSTA 2021 part 1

    Depending on the animal used for the leather, the properties will change. Leather from elk is best used for clothing and bags since it is soft and stretchy. It need not be very expensive and can be used for both low-end and high-end items.

    Moose leather, being thick and dense, is suited for moccasins and other products requiring a thicker and durable leather. Buffalo hide does not stretch like the hide of elk or moose and works well for bags. Wolf and fox fur are durable enough for rough use and are suitable for ornamental purposes. Rabbit skins are also suited for ornamental purposes or cut into strips and knit or woven into a jacket or cape.

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    Brain Tanning: Soaking Your Hide In Brains And Softening

    Its time to get down with the brains of this operation. Real brains. The fat and lecithin in brains make them ideal for creating your tanning solution. If you dont have brains, you can always use egg yolks. They also have fat and lecithin, but dont quite have the magic or grossness of brains. Heres our recipe:

    • 1-½ gallons hot water
    • 1 deer brain, or 1 pound of another kind of brains, or 12 egg yolks, whisked or blended into very small particles
    • ¼ cup olive oil, other oil, or rendered bear fat

    Submerge your hide in this warm, oily solution and stir it around a bit to make sure the whole hide is saturated. Let it soak for a minimum of 15 minutes and as long as overnight . Then pull it out, hand wringing it to leave as much of the solution in the bucket as you can. Now, place your hide over the wringing pole and twist it up in a donut .

    Next, wring it out on the wringing pole, then soak it again, wring it again, soak it again, wring it againDo this 2-4 times, depending on your stamina, how big and thick your hide is, and what sort of mood you are in. The goal is to get the brain solution to penetrate through the whole hide.

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