Alligator Leather Tanning

Tanning is the process of turning raw animal skins into a preserved fabric, or leather, which keeps the skins from being susceptible to decomposition via micro-organisms or other small animal invasion. The tanning process for alligator, one of the most popular exotic leathers, is outlined in the steps below.

  • Soaking.
  • Liming.
  • De-liming.
  • Pickling.
  • Chrome tanning.
  • Shaving and thinning. to
  • Re-tanning.
  • Drying and dry cleaning. Dry cleaning
  • Dying and coloring.
  • Shaving and thinning.

These steps can be separated into three phases. The preparation phase, the tanning phase, and the finishing phase:

Preparation. Skins arrive at tanneries heavily salted, for preservation in storage and shipping, and they are very stiff and board like. They are soaked to remove the salt and to make them pliable enough to be worked. Then the skins are limed in a strong base solution to remove nails, scales, grease and fats. The skins are then de-limed to raise the acidity levels so that the tanning can start.

Tanning. Next, the skins are pickled in an acid bath to make them more pliable. Then, they are immersed in a bath of chromium elements which makes the skins durable and no longer susceptible to weather. At this point, the skins are no longer subject to decomposition; they are now leather. They are next re-tanned in a vegetable based to make the leather less tough and more supple.

Finishing. The leather is next dried, either by hanging or in specialized ovens. The leather next can be dyed or colored, and then it is shaved to standard thicknesses. In the last step, protective coats are applied and the process is complete.

At the end of this extensive and labor intensive process, the leather is shipped to manufactures to be made into garments, handbags, accessories, or fine custom footwear such as those from Tejas Custom Boots in Houston, TX.


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