Tan Hides Without Chemicals and Without Spending a Dime

Tan Hides Without Chemicals and Without Spending a Dime

Tan Hides Without Chemicals and Without Spending a Dime


When it comes to survival skills, being able to tan hides is an invaluable skill to have. Tanning hides allows you to turn animal skins into leather, which can be used for a wide range of purposes such as making clothes, shoes, and even shelter. While there are chemical processes available for tanning hides, these methods may not always be accessible in a survival situation. In this article, we will explore an alternative method of tanning hides without using any chemicals and without spending a dime.

The Brain Tanning Method

One of the oldest methods of tanning hides is known as brain tanning. This method has been used by indigenous peoples for centuries and relies on the natural oils found in animal brains to tan the hides. Here’s how you can do it:

Gather the necessary materials

– Animal hide
– Sharp knife or scraper
– Warm water
– Animal brain (you can use the brain of the animal whose hide you are tanning, or obtain brain from another source)
– Container for soaking

Remove the flesh

Start by removing any remaining flesh or fat from the hide using a sharp knife or scraper. It’s important to remove as much of the flesh as possible to ensure a successful tanning process.

Soak the hide

Fill a container with warm water and place the hide in it. Allow the hide to soak for several hours or overnight. This will help to soften the hide and make it easier to work with.

Prepare the brain solution

While the hide is soaking, prepare the brain solution. To do this, you can either use the brain of the animal you are tanning or obtain brain from another source. Remove any excess fat or tissue from the brain and mix it with warm water to create a paste-like consistency.

Apply the brain solution

Once the hide has finished soaking, remove it from the water and wring out any excess moisture. Apply the brain solution to both sides of the hide, ensuring that it is evenly distributed. Be sure to work the solution into the hide using your hands, paying special attention to the areas with thicker skin.

Work the hide

After applying the brain solution, it’s time to work the hide. This involves stretching and pulling the hide to prevent it from becoming stiff. You can do this by attaching the hide to a frame or simply stretching it by hand. Keep working the hide until it starts to dry and becomes flexible.

Smoke the hide

To further protect the hide and give it a desirable color, you can smoke it. Hang the partially dried hide over a fire, taking care not to let it come into direct contact with the flames. The smoke from the fire will help to seal the hide and give it a nice, smoky scent.

Finishing touches

Once the hide is completely dry and flexible, you can further soften it by rubbing it between your hands or against a rough surface. This will help to break down any remaining fibers and make the leather even more pliable.


Tanning hides without chemicals and without spending a dime is not only possible but can be a rewarding and practical skill to have. By using the brain tanning method, you can turn animal hides into leather using only natural materials and processes. The resulting leather can be used for a multitude of purposes in a survival situation, helping you stay warm, protected, and well-equipped.

My 2 Cents

Tanning hides may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and techniques, it can be easily accomplished without the need for chemicals or expensive equipment. The brain tanning method is a tried-and-true process that has been used for centuries and can provide you with high-quality leather for your survival needs. So, the next time you find yourself in a survival situation, remember this simple and cost-effective method of tanning hides. It may just be the skill that saves your life.