Chrome tanning has been practiced since the 19th century. Chrome tanning has been explained in chemical literature as early as 1858.
We use chromium to tan our leather. This is common for around 80%-100% of leather used in the clothing, furniture and shoe industries. Our leather is tanned using chromium(III) salts. Chromium(III) salt is a natural, non-toxic element, that we also consume in food. We don’t use harmful chromium(VI) in our tanning process. Chrome-free leather is often advertised as “without chromium and harmful substances”. This gives the impression that chrome tanning uses harmful products. But that isn’t the case. Tanning using chromium(III) is completely harmless. Many people associate “chrome” with toxicity or have heard about excessive levels of chromium(VI) in the media.
This fear has then been used in marketing to promote alternatives. The use of chromium(III) salts is completely harmless for your health.
The vast majority of people will experience no problems despite prolonged skin contact with shoes or clothing. Drinking water can contain 50 micrograms of chromium(III) per liter.
The advantages of chrome tanning are clear:
- Chrome tanned leather has double the tensile strength
- Chrome salts do not swell the skins, tannin makes up about 1.5%-4% of the weight of the leather (vegetable tanned leather has a tannin content of 20%)
- Chrome tanned leather is lighter
- Chrome tanned leather is easier to waterproof and can be dyed more effectively
- Chrome tanned leather conducts heat better, is more heat-resistant and is fades less
- The tanning process is faster and uses less material
- The resulting leather after chrome tanning, so called ‘wet blue’, is transportable and storable, which allows international sales and further processing worldwide
- Chrome tanned leather is very soft
We use leather with a TÜV certification. All leather/materials imported into Europe or produced in Europe have to meet European standards. The tanneries where we source our leather are certified by the international organisation Leather Working Group.
Reference: Lederzentrum, Knapp, F.: Natur und Wesen der Gerberei und des Leders. In: Dinglers Polytechnisches Journal 149, 1858. 305; 378, Gmehlich Leder, Wikipedia