I was so exhausted while writing my last post I’m not sure I explained the purpose and process of salting raw skins.
Salt is a preservative, so firstly it prevents decay of the skin tissue. It does so by drawing out water and inhibiting bacterial growth. This is essential to a good tanning result.
Salt also helps to “stick” the hair in the skin. This is partly because of the dehydrating effect. But don’t be fooled – salt cured hides aren’t tanned, and if they get wet they can lose hair and decay.
I added a single layer of salt to my deer skins the other day. Yesterday when I checked on them I found what I expected.
Liquid is pooling and collecting on the hides. This just means the salt is doing its job.
I picked up each skin to let the liquid run off and shook off some of the wet salt. I’ll sweep it up after it dries and reuse it. Then I added more salt. Quite simple!
I can’t stress enough that it’s important to get those crevices and edges! The edges will try to trick you by rolling in. One of these hides came to me with the tail still on, bone and all, and I managed to save it – that’s an area I’ll have to pay particular attention to.
And now we wait. The next steps for these deer hides don’t start until they’re salt-cured. Meanwhile, I’ll see what I can do with a sheepskin.