What is Chrome Tanning?
Chrome tanning was discovered after a series of experiments with chromium salts in 1858. This discovery was a huge breakthrough for the leather industry and chrome tanning quickly became the most popular way to tan animal hides. This type of tanning is now used for around 85% of the world’s leather production. It’s mainly used to create leather used in clothing, shoes, and upholstery.
What is Chrome-tanned Leather?
Chrome-tanned leather is tanned using chromium salts. This type of leather is sturdier and more tear-resistant than vegetable-tanned leather. Chrome tanning is easier, quicker, and cheaper than vegetable tanning as the chromium salts don’t fill the pores during the tanning process.
Before the chrome tanning process begins, the hides go through an initial tanning process which results in blue hides, often called “wet blue” leather. This distinctive open-pored blue leather is easy to store and transport around the world.
Chromium (VI) Tanning
In recent years, there have been news reports about dangerous levels of chrome in leather products. These reports often refer to chromium (VI), which is harmful to the environment. However, chromium (III) is regularly used in the tanning process and doesn’t pose a risk to your health. It doesn’t usually cause allergic reactions, despite close contact with the skin in leather shoes and clothing.
Chromium (VI) may be present in leather and pose a risk to the end user if the leather hasn’t been produced properly. This substance is only found in chromium-(III)-tanned items in very specific circumstances. Inhaling chromium (VI) dust can cause cancer but this is not present in leather. There is a very low risk of an allergic reaction to leather as only a small percentage of the population (approximately 0.5%) is allergic to chromium.
Ecology in the Chrome Tanning Process
Chrome tanning produces waste materials and wastewater that contains chromium. These substances must be properly treated and recycled. Modern tanneries can recover valuable substances from this waste and bind almost 97% of the chromium used. This reduces the amount of wastewater as well as costs.
Chrome Tanned Leather at Gusti
Our Gusti Leather chrome-tanned products are sturdy and tear-resistant. All of our Gusti Leather studio products are created using chrome-tanned leather. Gusti’s main producers comply with international production standards, like SA 8000, when manufacturing the Gusti Leather studio range. We carry out regular tests to ensure that all of the leather we produce adheres to pre-determined chromium (VI) values. These tests are conducted by accredited labs in India, as well as by the TÜV SÜD (an independent company in Germany that tests, inspects, and certifies technical systems, facilities, and objects).
Sources (5th January 2023):