Types of Tannages
There are a few types of tannages but leather is usually tanned in one of three ways.
Most leather is tanned using salts of chromium. Chrome tanning is a relatively recent method of tanning, but easily the most dominant. It uses a mix of minerals, salts and chemicals to treat the hide.
Consequently chrome tanned hides can come in a wider variety of colours, including very bright colours
Aldehyde and oil tannages
Tanning with aldehydes and oils produce very soft leathers and this system can be used to produce dry-cleanable and washable fashion leathers and also chamois leather.
Additionally oil tanned leather typically has a “pull up effect” Therefore the leather’s surface, when creased or stretched lightens leaving it with a distressed look.
Organic materials obtained from different parts of plants including woods, barks, fruits, fruit pods, and leaves are used to treat Vegetable tanned leather.
As a result these materials produce mostly brown coloured leathers which tend to be thick and firm. It’s this type of tannage that produces stout sole leather, belting leather and leathers for shoe linings, bags and cases.
As we have seen, tanning is an essential part of leather manufacturing. Though it involves several processes, each one contributes to the finish and other qualities that make leather so desirable. Since there are many different types of tannages, the leathers that are produced will come in a range of prices, colours, thicknesses, and qualities.
Hopefully you are now better informed to make a selection based on the tannage type of the leather.