Tawing with alum

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Tawing with alum - Alum tanned

Tawing is called the tanning method with aluminium salts (alum). It is a double salt, which naturally occurs, but also artificially is produced. Tawing belongs to the group of mineral tanning and is one of the oldest tanning processes. After tanning with alum, the dried leather is stiff and firm. To make these softer, the leather is tumbled and greased.

However, with a few exceptions, this tanning method was replaced by chrome tanning. After tanning with alum, the leather is white. The leather is however very water-sensitive. The tannins are washable, making this leather much more sensitive than the chrome-tanned leather.

The alum tanning is still the most common for Sheepskin.

Lammfell-01.jpg Riemen-Alaungerbung-01.jpg

Alum tanning: Sheepskin and leather straps.




Alum tanning: Leather belt with braided parchment.


Cricket-Ball-Alum tanned.jpg

Alum tanning: Cricket ball from England (www.colourlock.com).


Glacé leather

The Glacé tanning is a form of traditional white tanning and is based on natural ingredients. These include alum (aluminium sulphate), salt, egg yolk, wheat flour, fats and water. The tanning itself is a very short process, which takes only a few hours.

Glacé leather has traditionally been used as glove leather (usually goatskin).

Nowadays glacé leather is offered, where the used tanning method is not clear. Leather with "Glacé effect" is also offered. In such cases, the tanning method is then deviated. Mostly it’s not clear, what is meant by "Glacé effect".


Glacé gloves are very sensitive to water due to the non-permanent, washable tanning. The ring finger of this glove was irreparably damaged by moisture.


Additional information

Tanning methods
Chrome tanning - Vegetable-tanned leather - Synthetic tanning - Tanning with fats and oils