There are number of ways in which animal skin can be turned into a strong, flexible material called leather.
Vegetable tanned leather – It is brown in colour and flexible which is tanned using tannin along with constituent found in vegetable matter, tree barks and other similar sources. This type of leather can shrink if soaked in water for long time, making it less flexible. Also, it has tendency to discolour while in water. In earlier times, vegetable tanned leather was used for book binding.
Chrome tanned leather – It is tanned using chromium sulfate and other salts of chromium. Chrome–tanned leather is more flexible and bendable than vegetable tanned leather. It does not shrink or get discoloured in water. It is also called as wet–blue because of its colour resulting from chromium.
Synthetic tanned leather – It is tanned using aromatic polymers like Neradol. It appears white in colour. Melamine and other amino- functional resins also fall under this category providing the filling required for modern leathers.
Alum tanned leather – It is tanned using aluminium salts with variety of protein sources and binders like flour or egg yolk. This type of leather has the tendency to decay in water. It is less flexible than vegetable tanned leather. Extremely light shades of leather are obtained using this process.
Aldehyde tanned leather – Due to its palm cream appearance, it is also called as wet–white leather. It is tanned using oxazolodine or glutaraldehyde compounds. Brain tanned and chamois leather both fall under this category. Brain tanned leather are extremely soft and can be washed easily. It is made from emulsified oils. Chamois leather is made from cod oil. Aldehyde leather is commonly used in making shoes for infants.
Rawhide – It is just made by scrapping skin followed by soaking it in lime and then extending it while it is left for drying. It is harder than all other types of leather. It is used in making items which are less flexible like drum heads, furniture etc.
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