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Vegetable Tanned Leather: Everything You Need To Know

Vegetable Tanned Leather: Everything You Need To Know

If you're looking for a unique kind of leather product that's not available anywhere else, then you need to try vegetable-tanned leather! This process of tanning leather using vegetable oil results in durable and versatile leather that's perfect for shoes, bags, or any upholstery materials. So read on to check out and learn all you need to know about this sustainable option for leather goods!

vegetable tanned leather
Steel Horse Leather Co.

What is vegetable-tanned leather?

Vegetable leather is a unique type of leather that's made from the tanned hides of an animal or a tree bark that is treated with vegetable tanning. This process produces a lighter and rich color and a more porous surface than regular leather. It's eco-friendly, functional, and long-lasting - perfect for use in furniture, and bags, as opposed to full grain leather or genuine leather, especially in terms of softness. So what are you waiting for? Give vegetable leather a try and see for yourself how amazing it is!

Brief History of Vegetable Tanned Leather.

While vegetable-tanned leather has been around for centuries, this process became more common in the 1800s as improvements were made to tanneries and equipment. Today, you can find vegetable leather products in many different styles, colors, and sizes. Its rustic look and feel add character to items that need durability like wallets, purses, and furniture. In addition to its practical uses, this leather can also be stylishly used on shoes or other accessories.

What is the difference between vegetable-tanned leather and regular leather?

When it comes to leather, there are two main types - vegetable and regular. Vegetable leather is made from the skins of agricultural products that have been treated with a tanning agent. This process not only gives the leather a slightly different color, feel and smell but also makes it more sturdy as it can last longer without losing its shape or color. Regular genuine leather is made from the skin of an animal that has not undergone any type of processing of toxic substances, which means that it contains more oil and will eventually wear down faster. Additionally, vegetable-tanned leather is more environmentally friendly as it does not require any toxic chemicals.

How Is Vegetable-Tanned Leather Made?

Photographer: Carter Yocham | Source: UnsplashPhotographer: Angelina Litvin | Source: Unsplash

Vegetable-tanned leather's production process is made by soaking animal skin in a solution of water, oil, and salt for several weeks as it slowly forms a beautiful patina over time.


Pre-tanning is a process that converts the natural oils in the skin into a protective layer. This results in leather that has a slightly different color than regular leather because of the tanning process. It is also an eco-friendly option as it doesn't involve using harsh chemicals or animal products. Moreover, it gives consumers the chance to buy ethical products without compromising on quality or durability. Pre-tanning can be done before or after vegetable tanning - both methods give good results.


Tanning is the process of turning animal skins into finished leather. Vegetable-tanned leather has a unique appearance and feels because it contains natural variations in dye to a color that comes from the process of dying or staining the skin with various chemicals. The veg tan leather is perfect for products that need to be environmentally friendly - such as bags and wallets made from organic materials by skilled craftsmen. Another process of tanning is chrome-tanned leather, which is tanned by the use of chromium salts, also known as chrome tanning.

Dyeing, Hot Stuffing, Drying

The next step is the hot stuffing process which makes the leather much tougher than before. Dyeing, hot stuffing, drying, and at times even stamping, are the processes that are used to turn natural vegetable-tanned leather into a sturdy product. These steps make the leather more flexible and tough, making it perfect for products such as wallets, bags, and other accessories. It's then put into a mold and heated until it becomes very flexible again.

Finishing the Leather

The skin is treated with a vast majority of chemicals to stop it from rotting, then left to dry out for a few weeks. Once it's dried, the resulting leather can be used in different ways such as in shoes, bags, and other items.

Benefits of Vegetable-Tanned Leather

There's a reason why vegetable-tanned leather is becoming increasingly popular - it has a host of benefits that make it a great choice for footwear and other accessories. Plus, it has an interesting story - vegetable-tanned leather is tanned with vegetable oil instead of petroleum products, making it ethically sound too!

Environmental Benefits

There are a number of environmental benefits associated with vegetable tanning. First, it ages gracefully and becomes richer and more beautiful as it gains experience. This reduces the carbon footprint of the process since tanned leather requires less energy to produce than animal-tanned leather.

Aids in Crafting Quality Items

Vegetable-tanned leather is a great option for businesses that need quality items that are sturdy and require less maintenance. Not only is it more strong than regular leather, but its natural scent and insulation properties make it perfect for cold climates. In addition to this, the dyeing process used helps give it a unique look and feel.

Reduces Waste

By using vegetable-tanned leather, businesses can reduce the amount of waste they produce. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but this material is also strong and easy to care for - perfect for products that need to last long.


It is versatile enough to be worn in any season - whether you're looking for something stylish and eye-catching during springtime or want to add some warmth during winter.

Caring for Your Vegetable Tanned Leather

Photographer: Lina Verovaya | Source: Unsplash

Leather is the perfect material for a variety of applications - from accessories to shoes to furniture. And, vegetable-tanned leather is no exception. As a natural and organic material, it's important to take care of it.

Avoid getting your leather wet

Always treat vegetable-tanned leather with caution - avoid getting it wet. Use a protective spray on regular occasions to help preserve the finish of your leather goods!

Keep your leather away from heat

Avoid exposing your leather to direct sunlight or fire - these are two common ways in which it can be damaged. Also, keep in mind that vegetable leather is a unique type of leather and requires special care when it comes not just to sun exposure but also to water damage (avoid boiling water).

Don't use brushes with synthetic bristles

To keep your leather looking good and avoid any damage, it's important to take care of it the right way. It's best to use a brush made from natural bristles instead of synthetic ones - these won't harm the vegetable-tanned skin layer underneath.

Never blow dry your Leather

Leather is a beautiful and expensive material, so it's important to take care of it. One of the most common mistakes people make when dry-cleaning leather is using a low heat setting on their clothes dryer. This cause the leather to shrink, crack, and lose its color.


Vegetable-tanned leather is a natural and sustainable process of tanning animal hides using vegetable tanning agents produced by artisans. It is the most environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to produce leather, as it uses natural ingredients and doesn't involve the use of harsh chemicals. If you're interested in learning more about vegetable-tanned leather, be sure to check out our blog post!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people prefer vegetable-tanned leather over other types of leather?

There are many reasons why people prefer vegetable leather over other types of leather. For one, vegetable tanning is a more environmentally-friendly process compared to the traditional methods of tanning hides. It uses natural plants involves as tanning agents, which means that it's not harmful to the environment. Moreover, vegetable tanning gives the leather a natural look and feel that some people prefer over the traditional look and feel of tanned leathers made from hides.

Is there any harm in using vegetable-tanned leather?

There is no harm in using this type of leather. In fact, it has a number of environmental benefits that outweigh any potential negative effects. One of the main reasons why vegetable tanning is environmentally friendly is because it helps in preserving resources like water and oil.

Why is it called vegetable-tanned leather?

Vegetable tanning is a process that allows for the elimination of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and phthalates. This type of tanning also leaves behind a sturdy finish that's resistant to water damage and staining.

Is vegetable tanned leather high quality?

Yes, vegetable leather is of high quality as it contains natural oils and proteins that keep the leather soft and supple. Additionally, it is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and animal cruelty-free.

Why vegetable tanned leather is so expensive?

There are a few reasons why vegetable-tanned leather is so expensive. Firstly, it takes much longer for the tanning process to transform the skin into a tough finish. This process can take up to two months, which is longer than standard tanning methods that only require a few days. Secondly, tanned leather requires a lot of time and effort to complete. The process typically requires using different types of wax, chemicals, or oils, as well as plenty of water, which all contribute to the high price tag. Many people believe that vegetable-tanned leather has a unique smell and look that set it apart from other types of skins. Plus, it's often seen as more luxurious because it's thought to last longer and withstand harsher conditions.

Why do people choose to tan their leather using vegetables?

People choose to tan their leather using vegetables because it gives a natural and strong finish. This process is done without the use of harsh chemicals or solvents, and it helps protect the environment by eliminating harmful chemicals from the process. Additionally, vegetable leather is sustainable and environmentally friendly as the artisans use minimal resources.

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