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Tanning Skins


In case some of our readers might desire to tan fur skins for their

own domestic purposes, the subjoined directions will be found to be

reliable, and for all ordinary requirements, sufficiently adequate.

For tanning with the hair on, the skin should first be cleaned,

every particle of loose fat or flesh, being removed, and the useless

parts cut away. When this is done, it should be soaked for an hour

or t
o in warm water. The following mixture should then be prepared:

Take equal parts of borax, saltpetre, and sulphate of soda, and

with them mix water sufficient to produce the consistency of thin


This preparation should be painted thickly on the flesh side of

the skin, after which these sides should be doubled together and

the pelt left in an airy place.

A second mixture should next be prepared. This should consist of

two parts sal soda; three parts borax; four parts castile or other

hard soap: all to be melted together over a slow fire. At the end

of twenty-four hours, after the application of the first mixture,

the second should be applied in a similar manner, and the fur again

folded and left for the same length of time. Next, make a mixture

equal parts of salt and alum, dissolved in warm water and thickened

with coarse flour to the consistency of thin paste. Spread this thickly

over the skin and allow it to dry, after which it should be scraped

off with the bowl of a spoon. The skin should be tightly stretched

during the operation, in order to prevent too great shrinkage. A

single application of the last-named dressing, is generally sufficient

for small skins; but a second or third treatment may be resorted

to if required, to make the skin soft and pliable, after which it

should be finished off with sand-paper and pumice stone. A skin

may be thus dressed as soft as velvet, and the alum and salt will

set the hair securely.

The above directions are excellent, for all general purposes, but

we subjoin, in addition, a few other valuable hints and specific

recipes in common use. Every trapper has his own peculiar hobby

in regard to his tanning process, and the recipes are various and

extensive. The above is one of the most reliable for general use.

A common mode of tanning mink and muskrat skins is given in the