What Is Chrome Tanning Leather and How It Compares

Chrome tanning was made in the 1800s. Instead of organic tannins, it uses chromium three sulfites. It's much faster, usually only taking a day or two, and well over 90% of all leather on earth has been chrome-tanned.

What is chrome tan leather?

Chrome tanning is a way to keep animal skins from going bad and rotting. This is done by using chromium sulphate. This method makes leather that is both soft and very strong. This method has many advantages and disadvantages.

Most of the bad press that chrome tan leather gets is because of the damage it can do to the environment. This is a big problem for small and medium-sized tanneries in developing countries, where the effects could be better.

Large tanneries in Europe and the United States, which have to follow stricter rules, don't have to worry as much about this since technology is improving to help protect the environment. But by no means is it perfect, at least not yet.

Each of us has to choose the materials, leather, glue, dyes, stains, and edge finishes they use and how they affect the environment and our health.

What is the difference between chrome tanned leather and veg tanned leather?

Here discuss veg tan vs chrome tan. Tannins from trees and water are used to make the tanning process natural. On the other hand, Chrome tanning uses chromium salts and tanning liquors, which must be carefully managed and closely watched to keep environmental damage to a minimum. Vegetable and chrome tanning are good ways to make leather last longer.

Do you like chrome tan leather?

Chrome tan leather is better at keeping water away than straight vegetable-tanned leather. Because of these qualities, chrome-tanned leathers are often used for shoes, boots, gloves, furniture, and car parts. After all, you want your shoes to be easier to bend and less likely to get wet.

Chrome-tanned leather is made of what?

The most common way to treat leather is with chrome. This is because it is a fast method that can make a product in just a few days. Acid, salt, chromium sulphate, and other chemicals are used to dye the hides. The hide will be light blue after it has been soaked in the acid salt. 

Is chrome-tanned leather real leather?

Chrome-tanned leather is made by dying the hide with chemicals, acids, and salts. It's cheap, easy to make, and made in large quantities. Most tanners only need a little skill to do it.

Can water get through Chrome Tan leather?

Chrome-tanned leather is better at keeping water away than straight vegetable-tanned leather. Because of these qualities, chrome-tanned leathers are often used to create shoes, boots, gloves, furniture, and parts for cars. After all, you want your shoes to be easier to bend and less likely to get wet.

Is tanning with chrome harmful to the environment?

The use of leather that has been chrome-tanned can result in environmental degradation, which endangers not only the surrounding ecology but also the person who is wearing the leather. Many businesses have relocated their production outside Europe due to the European Union's stringent environmental rules.

What is chrome-free tanned leather?

Chrome-free leather is leather that has been tanned and processed without the use of chromium at any point in the production process.

The pros of chrome-free tanned leather:

Leather has a lot of great and unique things about it:

  • Leather is strong and can last for a lifetime or even longer.
  • It is made from something left over from the meat business. This means it reuses a hide or skin that would otherwise be thrown away.
  • When the right chemicals are used, leather can be circular and biodegradable.

Because of this, the main reason why tanning without chrome is better for the environment. Chrome-free leather causes less pollution, makes waste streams cleaner, and makes it easier for the leather to break down. It gives the meat industry a more circular way to deal with its waste. Choosing it for your leather shoes, bags, chairs, car upholstery, and jackets makes sense.

Why is chrome tanning so popular?

For one thing, chrome tanning uses less water and energy because it happens so quickly. It usually only takes a day or two, while veg tanning can take weeks or even months. This is another reason why it might be more eco-friendly.

Chrome-tanned leather is more flexible and soft

Chrome-tanned leather is softer and more flexible, making it more comfortable right out of the box. I've talked to many bootmakers who prefer old-fashioned veg tan leather because they like the way it ages and its history, but they can't sell veg tan boots because people give them back much more often.

Yes, if you buy a pair, they will soften and become more comfortable over time, but it's not a good idea to sell them because most people want to get comfy shoes quickly—bootmakers who use chrome-tanned leather save money and don't throw away as much.

What's the point of chrome-tanned leather

So, let's talk about what's good about chrome-tanned leather. Why would you choose this method of tanning over something more natural? Start with being able to resist water. If your leather product is likely to get wet, like shoes, bags, luggage, or leather jackets, chrome-tanned leather might be a better choice than vegetable-tanned leather. 

Because it is less likely to get wet, it is also less likely to get stained. Water spots, especially on lighter-coloured veg tan products, can be seen as soon as they dry. With chrome tanned, that's not so much the case.

Chromed hides are also less likely to melt or get damaged by heat. When hot creasing, you will notice that heat is less likely to harm chrome tan or make it darker. And if you use high heat and a concave creaser, you can make a lovely arch between the crease and the edge. This gives a nice look that is hard to get with vegetable-tanned leather. Overall, chrome-tanned leather also needs less care. You don't usually need to condition it unless it gets wet and dry or bends a lot.

In contrast to what most people think, chrome-tanned leather also has a higher tensile strength. It will stretch farther than veg tan, but it will take more force to break it. But as leatherworkers, there are few times when they can take advantage of this benefit. Anything under stress will be reinforced anyway because they don't want it to stretch (straps, belts etc.).

Most likely, the first thing you notice about chrome-tanned leather is its softness. When you first touch it, you can tell that it's true. Chrome-tanned leathers and skins are soft right when you buy them, but vegetable-tanned leather usually gets softer with time and use.

But different ways to chrome-tan and finish the leather can give it a firmness similar to vegetable tanning. Some even get a slight burnish on edge. This is usually the case with skins that have been pressed and glazed.

Most of the time, though, chrome-tanned skins are the softest. If you want your bags, wallets, luggage, or anything else to make to feel faint, this is the best choice. When vegetable-tanned leathers are put through an agitating machine, they can become very soft, but they won't last as long as chromed leathers.

Chrome-tanned skins are also good because they come in many bright colours. Chrome-tanned leather may be your best option if you like bright colours that don't change, especially on trendy clothing and accessories. It will make it look less natural, but many people like that look anyway. You can choose a more traditional colour and a heavier grain if you want a more natural look.

Chrome-tanned leather is less likely to get darker or deeper with age than vegetable-tanned leather unless you want it to or it gets dirty. This is a matter of personal preference, like many of these "benefits," so it can be a pro or a con.

For example, many Louis Vuitton handbags are made of natural vachetta leather. Some buyers love the rich patina that builds up over time and does their best to make it happen. On the other hand, many LV customers choose the pigmented dark brown bag so their bag won't look different in a year. Something to think about.

Chrome tan makes large areas like the panels, gussets, and base lighter and less tiring to carry. Chrome-tanned leather will also keep the heat and cold out better because it is less dense. Most fibres have a looser structure with more air trapped inside. Because of this, chrome tanning is often used for clothes, shoes, and accessories like gloves.

You will also notice that the things in a chrome-tanned bag won't get as cold in the winter as in a case made of pure vegetable-tanned leather. A lining also makes a big difference, but you might only think about this if you put your coffee in your bag on the way to work in the morning. 

How long does chrome-tanned leather last?

In general, chrome-tanned leather lasts longer than leather made from plants.

Some exceptions depend on how you define "durable." If you made a belt out of pure chrome-tanned leather without any non-stretch reinforcement, it would stretch out like an old sock in no time. So it could work better as a belt for this purpose!

But when it comes to resistance to scuffs, bumps, and scratches, chrome is king. Its strength comes from its softness, which lets the leather bend without getting marks.

You can see if this is true by using a scratch awl to make a line on veg-tanned leather. Then, take a piece of chrome tan and mark a line with the same amount of pressure. Chrome-tanned leather is not likely to have any marks.

How safe is chrome tan leather?

Since more than 160 years ago, chromium-based tanning agents have been widely used in the leather industry. Because the chromium in the compounds tanners use is in the trivalent state, this is not thought to be dangerous for workers or people who wear leather.

Can you smell chrome-tanned leather?

Most leather used in cars, furniture, and clothes is now chrome-tanned. The skin that is tanned this way doesn't smell too bad. The smell of this leather could be more robust. Some of the things that make fragrances are now illegal to use.

How can you tell if the leather has been tanned with chrome?

Take a substantial bowl and fill it with water that has just been boiled. Make sure it can handle the heat and that you take all the safety steps you need to first. Cut a few 1 cm wide by 8 cm long strips of leather, then drop them in. The vegetable-tanned leather will respond quickly by twisting up, shrinking, or doing both. On the other hand, Chrome-tanned leather may change a little bit, but it will stay the same. Combination-tanned leather, which has been both chrome-tanned and vegetable-tanned, will usually behave the same way as pure chrome-tanned leather in this test.

The Process of Tanning Leather

Getting Raw Skins:

Even though chrome-tanned leather differs from veg-tanned leather, the beginning of the tanning process is the same for both. All of it starts with the raw hides, usually leftovers from the meat industry. So, most of the time, animals are not killed to get their coats to make leather. Take calf leather as an example. It comes from calves, which are killed for their meat. The raw skin, which still has hair, is left over. Even at this point, you can tell that some are better than others. They only use calf hides from alpine cows or calves for Fort Belvedere products. This means they have fewer bug bites so that the finished leather will have fewer flaws.

Getting Hair Off:

In a tannery, the first step is to remove the hair. To do this, the hides are put in a chemical solution for about 24 hours. Even though hair removal is done by a machine with a knife today, it used to be done by hand, with a dull knife, or with a unique tool made of metal. Machines are much faster and more effective, so they don't just take off the hair; they also take off any bits of flesh or fat that might still be on the skin. Some tanneries throw away the hair, but others use it to make biofuel, so they don't waste anything.


The next step is to spray a talkum solution on the raw hides. The hides are then put in wooden barrels and turned in every few hours for a day or two. During this process of rinsing, the PH of the hairs or skin is lowered. This makes the hides or skins ready to be tanned. In other words, this is just a step before the natural tanning, which happens later.

Vegetable Tanning:

Vegetable-tanned leathers are not all the same. This depends on the recipe and what the leather will be used for, but they are all tanned with tannins. Tannins from oak bark are often used to make leather for shoe soles. Some people use tannins from chestnut trees, fruits, or mimosa trees. Tannins are sometimes made from leaves as well. 

When used in a tannery, they come as a powder mixed with water to make a tanning solution. The cleaned hides are then put in this water and tannin bath up to their necks. Most vegetable tanneries have different pits with different concentrations of tanning solutions. A hide may start in the hole with the lowest concentration and move up to the pit with the highest concentration, which makes for a better product. This whole process can take anywhere from a few weeks to 15 months. After they've been tanned and their height kept, it's time to colour them.

To soften and treat:

After the tanning process, the hides are very stiff and complex, so they can also be softened. The colouring and softening are done again in drums, which can be made of metal or wood. You can add fats or waxes like beef tallow or beeswax, depending on your finish. Even though they're hard at room temperature, heat can be used to make sure they're evenly spread on the top of the finished leather.

Cleaning and polishing:

Once the leather is the right colour and soft, it is washed. The moisture is usually taken out mechanically or left to dry in the air under precise temperatures and humidity levels. Lastly, the finishing process of leather can significantly affect how it looks, and if someone knows how to finish leather well, lower-quality leather can look great at this stage.


In above dis about Chrome Tanned Leather, veg tan vs chrome tan, etc. Chrome-tanned leather is one of the most common kinds of leather tanning. It refers to the chromium used for tanning leather, making the leather softer and more flexible. Chrome-tanned leather is better at keeping water away than straight vegetable-tanned leather.

Shop our collection of:
Leather Pencil Cases | Leather Backpacks | Leather Messenger Bags | Leather Handbags | Leather Tote Bags | Leather Briefcases | Leather Gym Bags | Custom Leather Journals | Custom Leather Portfolios

Related Blog Posts:

On every order, every day!

We value your security

30 days money back guarantee

Whatsapp ID: 8617714348460

Your cart is currently empty