The chemistry of leather • The chemistry of leather

The chemistry of leather


TThe chemistry of leather today’s Video of the Day from the American Chemical Society explores how leather is made.  

The process of tanning animal hide is used to prevent rotting, stabilize the structure of the material, and to improve the skin’s resistance to temperature. Leather is a durable and flexible material and can be produced through manufacturing processes that range from cottage to heavy industries. The processing can be divided into three sub-processes: the preparatory stage, tanning and crusting. All true leathers will undergo these sub-processes.

On a molecular scale, however, scientists still do not know exactly what happens during tanning. Regardless, the system has worked now for thousands of years. The term tannin (from tanna, an Old High German word for oak or fir tree, as in Tannenbaum) refers to the use of wood tannins from oak in tanning animal hides into leather; hence the words “tan” and “tanning” for the treatment of leather.

Testing the chemical properties of leather determines the quality and durability of leather goods, and lets you know whether your finished product meets the legal trading requirements for the international market.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Video Credit: American Chemical Society

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