When you see the price of leather and see the belt, purse, or whatever item you desire, you may not realize why leather comes at the price it does. However, the process to create leather is much more extensive than just placing the hide in a machine. In fact, the hide isn't initially soft, so it must undergo a chemical process to soften it. Additionally, the hide must go through a pickling process, among other steps.
1. Obtain the Hide
The first step of the process to make leather consists of an individual obtaining the hide of the animal, such as a cow, pig, sheep, or goat.
2. Cure the Hide
The next step of the process consists of curing the rawhide, which is a preservation process that inhibits the hide from deteriorating before the manufacturer can process the hide. The way a manufacturer cures a hide varies based on the company's process and may include any of the following methods:
- Using biocides
3. Soak the Hide
After the manufacturer preserves the hide, the hide will undergo a soaking process to rehydrate the skin and reduce the amount of salt and dirt on the hide. The manufacturer will usually soak the hide for several hours or possibly even several days.
4. Lime the Hide
Next, the manufacturer puts the hide through a liming process in a pit or a drum and paddle. The manufacturer uses an alkaline solution to cause the hide to swell and also break down some of the proteins, in particular, the chemical crosslinks of the collagen.
5. Flesh the Hide
Once the hide undergoes the liming process, the manufacturer will then flesh it. For this process, the manufacturer uses a different machine that removes the fleshy tissue from the side with the flesh. Some manufacturers will split the hide into layers during this stage. On the other hand, if the manufacturer may choose to split the hide after it undergoes the tanning process.
6. Delime the Hide
Then, the manufacturer will implement the deliming phase, which slowly neutralizes the alkaline from the liming process. The processor completes this process slowly since a sudden change in the pH balance of the hide could damage the tissue.
7. Bate the Hide
Next, the manufacturer bates the hide, which means that the processor uses proteolytic proteins to continue to remove proteins from the hide. Ultimately, the bating process softens the hide and helps to clean and prepare to pickle and tan the hide.
8. Pickle the Hide
The step that follows bating is pickling, which uses salt and a weak acid to alter the state of the hide to prepare it for the tanning process. On the other hand, if a hide will need to go to another plant or need to go into storage, the manufacturer will use a stronger acid solution to preserve the hide.
9. Degrease the Hide
The next to last stage of how a manufacturer makes leather consists of the processor using either a water-based solution or a solvent to pull any extra grease from the hide.
10. Tan the Hide
Finally, the hide is ready to undergo the tanning phase. The manufacturer will use a chemical solution, comprised of either plant matter, oil, or minerals, to tan it.
During the tanning phase, the hide will undergo a skin-color change. Additionally, the chemicals the manufacturer uses throughout the tanning phase protect the hide from environmental factors as well as bacteria.
All ten of the aforementioned steps are necessary to prepare animal skin to become a leather product. As you can tell, many steps are necessary to create a high-quality leather product.
Check out all of Over Under Clothing's leather products, ranging from wallets to belts to handbags, that had to undergo this lengthy process.