There are two methods may be used to temporarily preserve and/or cure an alligator skin until it can be sold or sent to a tannery. The first method is through repeated salting of the hide and storing it in a cool, dry location. Method two (which utilizes some similar techniques to method one) is through the use of a brine solution.
Alligator Hide Curing – Method 1
After an alligator has been skinned, the hide should be scraped thoroughly using a knife, a piece of metal pipe or another appropriate object until all bits of meat, fat, etc. are removed. After scraping, salt the hide with approximately one inch of white, fine grade table or mixing salt (available at most feed and seed stores). Thoroughly rub the salt into the hide, then roll the hide tightly, secure it and store it in a cool place. After 3-5 days, unroll the hide, discard the salt and repeat the salting procedure as described above. Re-roll the hide tightly and band with a one-inch rubber band or other rubber tubing. Store the rolled hide in a cool, dry place until transported for validation.
Alligator Hide Curing – Method 2
An alternative to Method One is to utilize a brine solution. Hides cured in brine solutions often remain more supple, suffer less shrinkage and are viewed as more attractive by hide graders and buyers. For these reasons, the use of a brine solution to cure an alligator hide is highly recommended.
Ingredients or Materials Needed:
50 gallon covered plastic drum
50 pounds salt
1 pint bleach (assists in keeping bacterial growth to a minimum)
25 gallons water
In order to be effective, the solution must be carefully prepared and maintained. A plastic or other non-corrosive covered container of sufficient size should be used. Heavy, 50-gallon plastic drums used for shipping produce are best, but large plastic covered garbage cans are good substitutes. The solution must remain saturated with salt. Too little salt will cause damage to a hide. Fill the 50-gallon container half-full of water, then add the salt and the bleach and mix thoroughly. After complete mixing, a 2-3 inch layer of salt should remain on the bottom.
Hides should be properly scraped and salted with a one-inch layer of salt, tightly rolled and secured with a rubber band prior to placing in the brine. When submersing a hide in the brine, it should be rotated to allow most of the air pockets to escape. If properly salted, the layer of salt in the rolled skin will act as a wick to draw the brine solution throughout the skin. The hide should be entirely submersed in the brine at all times and the container should be kept tightly covered to keep insects and airborne contaminants from entering the solution.
The hide should remain in the brine solution until sold or sent to a tannery. If you plan on selling the hide, it must be removed from the brine and entirely re-salted prior to being shipped or placed in refrigeration. The brine should be discarded and a new solution made after each use. Disposal of the salt brine should be done properly and carefully since it is harmful to plants and aquatic animal life.