Chrome vs Vegetable Tanned Leather


Why Vegetable Tanned Leather Leather? Basically, tanning is the process that converts animal skin to leather. There are several methods for tanning leather, but not all of them are good for your health or environment. I will first describe the most popular tanning method, Chrome-tanning. Follow by another tanning method to make the leather we use on Makketh products, the vegetable-tanned leather.

Chrome Tanned Leather

This tanning method is most commonly used, especially in the fashion industry.  It’s the most popular because it only takes a few days for the leather to be ready for use to make products.  This method involves using chromium salts to tan the leather, which leaves the leather with a light blue tinge and with a strong chemical smell.  The leather is usually colored and dyed, the smell will also linger through to the final product.

The disadvantage of using Chrome-tanning:

  • Toxic chemicals including harsh acids & salts are used which are harmful to environment.
  • Chrome tanned leather is mass produced, maximum of 1 day, and lacks the craftsmanship that goes into traditional tanning.
  • Due to harsh chemical treatment the leather has shorter lifespan.
  • It retains its colour over its life and does not develop patina.
  • Not very friendly to human skin and can cause allergies due to some toxic chemicals used during tanning process.

The advantage of Chrome-tanning:

  • Quick and easy to produce, usually only taking up to a day.
  • Water resistant.
  • Soft and supple to the touch.
  • Colour remains the same throughout the products life.
  • It has a high degree of thermal resistance.

Vegetable Tanned Leather

Another method of tanning leather is called vegetable tanned leather.  It’s completely natural, and chromium free, which means that it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that may cause cancer in humans.  It uses the tannins acids found in certain kinds of plants and fruits. 

The disadvantage in using vegetable-tanned leather:

  • Production time take about 2 months.
  • High consumption of water.
  • Executed by experienced tanners.

But there are also big advantages in using vegetable tanned leather:

  • Not harmful to the environment or to humans who are coming in contact with it over the course of their life.
  • Over the period of use, vegetable tanned products improve and develop patina, giving a very unique & antique look.
  • More durable than other leathers.
  • Vegetable tanning is environment friendly & recyclable.
  • Pleasant earthly smell.

Though this process takes longer initially, the benefits are immeasurable.  The value and strength of the product is worth the time needed to invest in the leather.  This is why our Bi-fold Slim Wallet is made with vegetable tanned leather—it will last your whole life and not harm your health in the process. 

Here’s is a handy chart to make things a little easier…





1 comment

  • Hi, interesting article. Possible to use this method to create vegetable tanned leather for watches. (Watch Leather Strap) Since it’s not harmful to human skin.

    Eric Chung

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published