Why I dry scrape

Backyard hide tanning for leisure can be an immensely rewarding past time, however the intensity of it has occasionally put me in some challenging situations. For example, commencing a deerskin wetscrape late in the day only to find oneself finishing well after midnight under the light of the moon.  Romantic perhaps, but yes tiresome also. Thus for me avoiding the potential for this has been an important lesson I have gained from the pursuit of tanning.

As tends to happen with all of the traditional living and survival skills though, it is the challenging aspects that has taught me most about myself and about life. In fact, it is an aspect of the practice that I love, for the experience that I have gained, filtering benefits into other parts of my life as well.

One way around potentially stressy elements of tanning is by using tools that can slow the decomposition process reducing the urgency associated with completing steps while the skin is still raw and perishable.  This is similar to handling raw meat and having to mitigate the risks associated with it.

Such tools include freezers and the dry-scrape method (drying the skin after removing the flesh and working the skin whilst dry).

Freezers are useful because you can halt the processing at any time for storage without too much ado.  This is appropriate any time that the skin is wet and subject to decomposition.

NB: I do sometimes encourage the use of modern-day contraptions such as freezers to provide enthusiasts with a staged progression between armchair survival and the full primitive immersion. ,

After you have removed the flesh and fat, dry-scraping the remaining layers is another good time-relaxing approach as it decelerates bacterial growth through the absence of moisture.  This allows a tanner to return to a hide at his or her leisure, rather than having to remove all the layers, through another process known as wet-scraping, in one half-day session.  Or worse, having to stop and return to a wet-scraped hide another day, increasing the potential for bacterial growth and malodours.

While wet-scraping can certainly still be worthwhile due to the quicker overall processing time, it demands a concentrated effort of uninterrupted work. This can be great for small skins or for those who may have a large chunk of time at their disposal for large skins however, for most of us a commitment to this amount of uninterrupted time can be unrealistic and unachievable.

Thus being familiar with a range of techniques and options can make the whole process more pleasurable and paced such that the most involved parts of the process, with planning and forethought can become meditative recreational activities rather than gruelling marathons of self enforced labour.

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