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Posted by Emily Hancock on 11 08 17

Vegetable Tanned vs Chrome Tanned Leather

Vegetable Tanned Leather vs Chrome Tanned Leather 

When searching for the perfect leather for your project, you may find that there are many different options. It is beneficial to look into the differences in leather to see what will best suit your needs! Tanning is one of the many variations that can affect the look and quality of your product.

Tanning is what is done to skins and hides to produce leather. When leather is tanned it helps to make the leather stronger, and decrease the likelihood that it will be damaged or fall apart. In regards to tanning, we have broken down the differences between Vegetable Tanned and Chrome Tanned leather.

Vegetable Tanned Leather:

No chemicals are used in this tanning method. Vegetable tanning utilizes tannic acids that are found in plants. Bark, branches, leaves and fruits can be used depending on the technique. This leaves the leather with a natural smell. As far as color, you can expect vegetable tanned leather will have deep natural, earthy brown tones. The leather will have a very natural look when finished. Production time can be lengthy (roughly 2 months) and needs to be completed by a very skilled craftsmen who is familiar with the process. This can lead to high cost of the final product. Vegetable tanned leather is best for sturdy bags and belts, as it will create a great quality product.


- Produces “one of a kind” leather and products

-High durability, can last a lifetime

-Only utilizes natural ingredients

-Bio-degradable and environmentally friendly

- Will have a rich patina that gets better with time and use


-Vegetable tanned leather is porous (can be treated with oil or wax to make it water resistant)

- Scratches easily, however minimal scratches can be buffed out

- Can be a bit stiff when first tanned, but softness will increase with time as well as darkness in color

- Being in heat for extended periods of time will cause the leather to dry out or crack

- Because of the lengthy and involved process, it can make leather and the goods made with this leather more expensive

Chrome Tanned Leather:

Chrome tanned leather is the most popular way of tanning leather. This is because it is a very quick method, and can produce a product in just days. The hides are dyed in acid, salt, chromium sulfate and other chemicals. Once the hide has been soaked in the acid salt the leather will be light blue in color. Whatever color desired can be applied from this point. This type of leather is commonly used for jackets, gloves, and upholstery for car seats.


-Is produced quickly and inexpensively

-Leather and products made with this leather are less expensive and are made in greater abundance.

- There can be a wide variety of colors to choose from, and the color of the leather will not change over time

-It is thinner and softer than vegetable tanned leather


-Not environmentally friendly (the process results in toxic waste water that will negatively impact the environment)

- The leather is not biodegradable

- The look of the leather is not very natural, and will typically have a chemical smell

We hope this has been a beneficial synopsis of different leather tanning processes!