Modern homesteaders raise rabbits as a source of inexpensive meat. Some rabbit farmers relegate the rabbit skins to the compost pile, where they are a good source of phosphorus and nitrogen. Alternately, the rabbit hide can be preserved and used to create hand-sewn clothing, gifts and crafts. A common method of preservation is to tan the skin using a solution of dilute sulphuric acid, also known as battery acid.
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Things you need
- 236ml. battery acid
- 0.907kg. pickling salt
- 5-gallon plastic bucket
- 2 gallons water
- Brick or large rock
- Wooden spoon
- Rubber gloves
- Mild soap
Mix the tanning solution. Pour 2 gallons of warm water (37.8 degrees Celsius) into the plastic bucket. Add the salt and stir with the wooden spoon to dissolve. While wearing the rubber gloves tip the bucket to the side and slowly pour the battery acid along the side of the bucket into the water. Be careful not to splash the battery acid, as it will burn exposed skin. Allow the tanning solution to cool to room temperature.
Wash the rabbit skin in soapy water and then rinse to remove all traces of blood. Any remaining blood will result in brown stains on the tanned hide. Gently squeeze out the excess water. Never wring the fur dry, as the thin skin may tear.
Place the hide into the tanning solution and stir it with the wooden spoon. Weigh the skin down with the brick, so it does not float. Stir the hide once per day. Keep the tanning solution at approximately 21.1 degrees Celsius, as warmer temperatures may damage the rabbit hide and cooler temperatures slow the tanning process.
Wait three to four days and then prepare the rabbit hide for fleshing. Remove the skin from the tanning solution and wash it in soapy water. The fat and flesh will now separate easily from the hide. After fleshing, rinse the skin and return it to the tanning solution for a further seven days.
Remove the cured hide from the tanning solution, wash and rinse it thoroughly. Squeeze out the excess water and allow the hide to drip-dry. While it is still damp, put it in the clothes dryer on low heat. The tumbling action of the dryer will "break" the skin, gently pulling and stretching the hide until it is white and soft.
Tips and warnings
- Cleaned hides can be stored in the freezer to preserve later. Waiting more than four days to flesh the hide is safe if you stir it regularly.
- Battery acid is available from auto-supply stores.
- Use caution when pouring the battery acid; it will burn exposed skin. Never add the water to the acid; always pour the acid into the water. Once the acid is added to the water, the solution is dilute enough to handle with bare skin.
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