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The Pre-Smoking Method:    page 3

Pre-Braining

When we have finished de-hairing we pre-brain the hide. We use cow brains. We buy the brains in bulk, by the pound through our local meat market. We have used pig brains but find them greasy and result in a more dense hide, we prefer our hides to be soft and lofty.

Preparing the Solution

Take about a pound of cow brains and either blend them in a blender, or squish them through a screen to get it as mashed as possible when mixed with about four to five gallons of water. We always heat the brain solution. Do not boil it as it seems to have an adverse effect on the solution. Also if possible, do not use chlorinated water. We use well water for this step. If you don't have well water then any ground water or rain water would do. The chlorine has an adverse effect on the function on the brains.

Putting the Hide In

At this point your hide should be somewhat damp and not real wet as you have just scraped it and most of the moisture from soaking it has been removed. The hide will be discolored, yellowish with bloody spots on it perhaps. Put the hide into the warmed brain solution and swish it around a bit. Take the edge of the hide and sort of work your way around the entire edge making sure it is not folded and stuck to itself. As you are swishing the hide and working your way around the edge you will notice that the hide is getting lighter in color and is becoming soft and slimey. Thats good.

Drying the brained hide for storage

Submerge the hide in the brain solution and let it soak over night. The next day hang it out on a line, making sure it is not sticking to itself and the air can circulate over all of it. At this point the hide should be so soft and slimey that it is difficult to hang on to. We usually hang it over the line, clothes pin it in a couple of places and prop it open with sticks we find laying around. If it is hot and windy, chances are the hides will dry enough in one day to take them down for soaking in cold water, or for storage.

It is possible to let them dry out too much. You want them to be slightly flexible. They can be stacked and stored indefinately at this point as long as they are in a dry place. At this point the hide will be a yellowish color again.

Resoaking It

If you plan on continuing the tanning process then do the following in preparation for pre-stretching. Fill a ten gallon plastic container to about 3/4 of the way full with cold water. Fold the hide and stick it in the water, usually you will not get the whole thing submerged as it is stiff but as the hide softens in the water, the rest can be pushed down and submerged also. Leave it in the water overnight.


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Brain tanned DeerElkMoose, CaribouAntelopeBuffalo hides, direct from the tanners.



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Introduction to brain tanning,

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