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Hi! I am experimenting with pickling hides with the salt and alum method. I put my hides in the brine last Sunday, and tried to stir at least once a day. I know I was supposed to stir twice, but I just didn't have time before work most mornings. Yesterday I went to pull hides out to flay them, and they smelled horrible, like they were rotting instead of pickling.

I was able to salvage about 4 or 5, but the rest had really bad hair slippage. I flayed them and put them in a new solution of water/salt/alum. Is there any hope for those hides now, or am I just wasting time trying to continue with them?

And I watched videos and read up on how to do it, but I'm not sure why my hides went bad. I made sure all of the hides were under water. Was it maybe too many hides? I had about 10 in a 5 gallon bucket. Or was it too hot? It has been hot here in Maryland, with most of last week being at least 90 degrees. Most of the instructions I read said keep the hides at "room temperature", but I am not thrilled about the thought of having a bucket of hides in my house.

Any input is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Yes, too many in too small a container of solution. There wasn't enough of the solution and chemical to treat that many hides. Not enough surface contact, also.

Hot doesn't help, either.

Yes, they started to rot.

Keep messing with the ones that remain. You will at least learn from the attempt.
 
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Is it strong enough? If you have stronger solution recipes, I'd go with the strongest.

I thought you'd picked out the non-rotten ones to continue.
 

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Is it strong enough? If you have stronger solution recipes, I'd go with the strongest.

I thought you'd picked out the non-rotten ones to continue.
I did pick out the rotten ones, but I was hoping the "good" ones weren't contaminated. I may add more salt and alum just in case. Plus, they have more brine per hide now, and in a slightly bigger bucket. Thanks for your input!
 

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what are the hides off of ?
tanning hides is a stinky job. maybe your hides are not rotting.. made a separate solution for the stinkers and see if they can be salvaged..
did you scrape the meat and fat off ?
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This is the rabbit forum, so I assumed rabbits.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
what are the hides off of ?
tanning hides is a stinky job. maybe your hides are not rotting.. made a separate solution for the stinkers and see if they can be salvaged..
did you scrape the meat and fat off ?
.....
Yes, rabbit hides because this is in the rabbit forum. The method I'm using involves soaking the hides in the solution for about 5-7 days, then peeling layers of skin/fat off, then resoaking for about a week. Then the hides get washed and stretched as they dry.

I managed to salvage 5 hides. One of them is worse than the other and has lost a lot of hair. I washed the hides yesterday, and they are currently drying. I'm stretching them as they dry. It looks like I might end up with 2 fairly good ones, 2 so-so ones, and one might not make it...it seems to be bad.
 

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I'm also in MD and I looked at the thermometer earlier this summer and stuck my hides in the freezer. Rabbit hides are very thin and spoil quickly in hot weather. That's probably what went wrong, if you were following a tried and true recipe and method otherwise. I tan a lot of hides over the course of a year, mostly rabbit and goat. If it's something you're going to keep doing then you might want to invest in a freezer (if electric isn't a big deal) or a *good* salt chest (if it is) to preserve the skins through the hot weather. I've just started back up trying to work through my frozen backlog before the fall/holiday craft shows all kick off.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm also in MD and I looked at the thermometer earlier this summer and stuck my hides in the freezer. Rabbit hides are very thin and spoil quickly in hot weather. That's probably what went wrong, if you were following a tried and true recipe and method otherwise. I tan a lot of hides over the course of a year, mostly rabbit and goat. If it's something you're going to keep doing then you might want to invest in a freezer (if electric isn't a big deal) or a *good* salt chest (if it is) to preserve the skins through the hot weather. I've just started back up trying to work through my frozen backlog before the fall/holiday craft shows all kick off.
Hi! I grew up in Southern MD, and now live on the Shore. :) I do have several hides in the freezer and now that temps are finally below 80 (thank goodness) I may give it another shot.

I did end up with 4 hides- 1 is very nice, 1 is nice fur quality but I ripped the hide in several places. The last 2 had some hair slippage, but could be trimmed to use for smaller things.

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