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Leather tanning – processing stages

Vegetable tanning of leather is a very ancient art that dates back to prehistoric times and which found its maximum expression in Tuscany.

It is essential to know that no animal is killed for its skin.

In fact, the hides derive from waste from the food chain, which, if not tanned, would be destined for a complex and expensive disposal process to be transformed into waste to be thrown away.

Thanks to skilful manufacturing techniques inherited over the centuries, the tanneries therefore transform a waste into a raw material of great value.

The raw hides arrive at the tanneries in fur, preserved thanks to the application of salt to prevent deterioration.

The first phase of processing, called soaking, serves to clean the hides of impurities and dirt, through the use of degreasing and antibacterial substances, and to rehydrate them after salting.

Calcination follows, which separates the hair and the epidermis from the dermis and prepares the skin to receive the tanning substances, favoring their penetration.

We then proceed with deliming, maceration and degreasing, thanks to numerous passages inside drums, i.e. large wooden barrels, which are rotated at different speeds and for different times according to the result to be obtained.

The leather is now ready for tanning, which serves to irreversibly stabilize it making it rot-proof, thanks to the use of natural tanning substances, tannins, in the specific case of vegetable tanning.

The leathers selected by us are exclusively vegetable tanned, therefore with the use of tannin extracted from plants, therefore 100% natural.

The hide is then pressed to free it from the tanning water and subsequently split into two sections: the upper and more valuable part, called 'grain' and the lower part, called 'crust'. The thickness of the grain side is defined on the basis of the intended use of the leather for the production of various leather goods. For example, to make wallets, a thickness of about 1 mm will be selected, while to make belts, a thickness of 3.5/4 mm will be selected.

The rind can be used for less valuable items or for by-products. Nothing is wasted.

Then follows the neutralization, to reduce the acidity of the leather and the retanning, to give the leather the peculiar characteristics of the article to be obtained.

The dyeing is mainly done in three ways, by spray, in barrels or by hand with the dabbing method.

The fattening is done in barrels with fatty substances of animal or vegetable origin to give the leather softness, elasticity and fullness.

To eliminate the remaining water residues, the hides are squeezed, then stretched out, flattened and smoothed, finally hung in the air at a controlled temperature and humidity for drying, generally for a whole night.

Once dry, thanks to machines equipped with hammers, the leather is staked, i.e. tapped to acquire greater softness and possibly then kneaded, making it rotate in the drums for several hours, obtaining a particular grain on the grain side and further softness.

Any finishing, which can be mechanical or manual, serves to give particular characteristics such as resistance to water, dirt and scratches.

Finally, the shearing, which eliminates marginal blemishes, small defects or useless parts of the leather and finally the measurement per square metre, which is always indicated on the flesh side of each leather. The hides are priced and sold by the square metre.

The vegetable tanning procedure ensures that the leather becomes biodegradable and recyclable, thanks to the 100% natural treatment, therefore free of polluting and harmful substances for Man and the Environment.

Furthermore, production waste is transformed into raw materials destined for other supply chains.

Have you ever thought that a leather has to be worked so long and so expertly to become the wonderful product we see?

This long process explains the value and prestige of vegetable tanned leather.

100% natural

We only select vegetable tanned leather from the best Tuscan tanneries

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