Tanning Hides | A Homesteading Guide


Want to know about tanning hides? Or how to tan a hide? If you hunt for food, wouldn’t it be a good idea to put those animal hides to use. Start tanning hides on your own with these easy to follow steps.

How to Tan a Hide

I haven’t really done any hunting in my day but my husband has. Every time he comes home with a deer or a rabbit, he would set the hide aside and tan it.

As a homesteader, one skill you should know is tanning hides. I know many people now prefer synthetic leather or fur to save animals but if you think about it, tanning is a process that has been around for ages. Cavemen even use this process to make their clothing. Don’t get me wrong I love animals but if you’re going to hunt one for food, why not make use of everything it can offer so it won’t go to waste!!! So if you want to add tanning to your list of homesteading skills, this how-to will show you how.

What you’ll need to tan a hide:


  • animal hide (I used rabbit hide for this tutorial but it will work in any animal hide)
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 1 cup alum or aluminum sulfate
  • 1 cup salt
  • safety gloves
  • bucket
  • stick
  • scraper
  • utility knife

Step 1

Skin your rabbit. (not pictured.)

Step 2

Make your tanning solution by mixing 2 gallons of water, 1 cup alum and 1 cup of salt. Put your hides in and let it sit for 48 hours.

Step 3

After 48 hours, you’ll be ready to flesh your hide. This is where you’ll be pulling off any meat or skin. Take your hide and put it in a piece of wood or fleshing beam (if you have one) and start scraping the skin and fat off your hide.

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Continue scraping the entire hide until it looks like the photo above.

Step 4

Make your solution again (2 gallons of water, 1 cup alum and 1 cup salt) and soak your fleshed hides for 7 days and cover it.

TIP: For the hide to better soak the solution, stir it twice a day. Make sure that they are also fully submerged, you can use rocks or anything heavy to hold them down to the bottom.

Step 5


Rinse the hide. You can optionally use a pet shampoo to make sure that you completely remove the solution and rinse it again with water 2-3 times.

Step 6

Remove all excess water and turn it inside out. Next, cut off the arms and legs and slice it in the middle to make an open hide.

Step 7


Hang the hides to dry for about 24 hours.

Step 8


Once the hide is dry, stretch it to make the fibers loose. This will make your hide soft and pliable.

TIP: If it doesn’t stretch out as it should, it means that the hide isn’t dry enough yet. If that happens, hang it again and wait for a few more hours before repeating the process.

Step 9

Brush the fur to get rid of any loose hair and you’re done!


It takes some time to complete the whole process but the end result is totally worth it. You can sew them together and turn it into a bed sheet or whatever project you can think of.

If you’d like to see how to tan a hide, you can watch this video tutorial from Marsh Prepper:

What do you think of this tutorial on tanning hides? Let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are on this homesteading skill. Do you think you’ll give it a try? Let us know how it went and share your experience with us in the comment section below.

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Have any homesteading projects you’d like to share? Share it with us an we’ll give it a try. We’d love to know what you think!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>