Chrome tanning and vegetable tanning are two of the most popular methods for tanning leathers. While both methods have their own unique properties and characteristics, they are also quite different from one another.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the differences between chrome tanned and vegetable tanned leather, and how each method impacts the final product.
Chrome Tanned Leather
Peter Nitz Dream bag in chrome tanned calf leather
Chrome tanned leather is made using chromium salts, which are known for their ability to produce a strong and durable leather that is resistant to water and stains. It's also a faster method than vegetable tanning, which can take longer and have more complicated steps.
This type of leather is also typically softer and more pliable than vegetable tanned leather, making it an excellent choice for leather goods that need to be soft and supple, yet still strong. Typical products made from chrome tanned leathers are gloves, clothing, and bags, while veg-tanned is generally used for things like saddles, holsters, belts and other similar items that require a more rugged or robust leather.
Chrome tanned leather is also highly resistant to moisture, which means that it will not become easily damaged when exposed to moisture or water. Most of the leathers used today in the luxury handbag industry are chrome tanned.
Vegetable tanned leather
Peter Nitz Hackney briefcase in veg-tanned leather
Vegetable tanned leather, on the other hand, is made using natural tannins derived from tree bark and other plant materials. This method of tanning is much more eco-friendly than chrome tanning, as it does not produce any harmful chemicals. It's also what gives it that classic leather smell that everyone loves!
Vegetable tanned leather is also known for its unique appearance, as it tends to darken and patina over time, giving it a rich, distinctive look. However, vegetable tanned leather, while strong and long-wearing, is not as resistant as chrome tanned leather, and it is more susceptible to water damage and staining. It is also more limited in the range of colors in which it can be tanned. Generally more natural muted colors are seen in veg tanned skins while chrome tanned is limitless in the variety of bright and intense colors in which it can be tanned.
Combination tanned leather
Peter Nitz Symeon duffle in combination-tanned calf skin
Combination tanned leather is a type of leather that is made using a combination of chrome and vegetable tanning methods.
The combination of these two tanning methods results in a leather that has the best qualities of both. It is strong, durable, and resistant to moisture and UV light, like vegetable tanned leather, but it is also soft, pliable, and easy to dye, like chrome tanned leather.
What is your favourite leather to work with?