Leather

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Shoes made of crocodile leather

Leather is the skin of an animal made into a durable material by tanning. The skins of cows, pigs, and goats are often used to make leather. Skins of snakes, alligators or crocodiles, and ostriches are sometimes used to make fancier leather. Shoes, bags, clothes, and balls are often made of leather. Sometimes people make leather out of whales, ducks, giraffes, and African elephants, but all of these ways of making leather are very simple but can also be very hard and rare sometimes.

How leather is made[change | change source]

The way leather is made is divided into three processes. They are preparing the leather, tanning it, and crusting.

In preparing the leather, many things are done to make it ready for tanning. They include soaking it, removing the hair, liming, deliming, bating, bleaching, and pickling.

Tanning is a process that makes the proteins, especially collagen, in the raw hide stable. It increases the thermal and chemical stability of the animal skins. The difference between fresh and tanned animal skin is that fresh animal skin dries to make it hard and stiff. When water is added to it, it becomes bad. But, animal skin that is tanned dries to make it flexible. It does not become bad when water is added to it.

Crusting is a process that makes the leather thin and lubricates it. Chemicals added when crusting must be set in place. Crusting ends with drying and making the leather soft. It may include splitting, shaving, dyeing, whitening or other methods.

From other animals[change | change source]

Today, most leather is made from the skin of cattle, which makes up about 65% of all the leather made. Other animals that are used include sheep (about 13%), goats (about 11%), and pigs (about 10%).

Horse skin is used to make strong leather. Lamb and deerskin are used for soft leather. It is used in work gloves and indoor shoes.

Kangaroo leather is used to make things that must be strong and flexible. It is used in bullwhips.

In Thailand, stingray leather is used in wallets and belts. Stingray leather is tough and durable.