The leather industry significantly requires various chemicals, which are used in different stages of leather processing. Here are some key chemicals commonly used in the leather industry:

  • Tanning Agents
    Chromium Salts:
    Chromium sulphate and other chromium-based compounds are commonly used as tanning agents in the leather industry. They help stabilize the collagen fibers in the animal hides, making them resistant to decomposition.
    Vegetable Tannins: Extracts from plant sources, such as quebracho and chestnut, are used as natural tanning agents in vegetable tanning processes.
  • Dyeing and Colouring Agents
    Aniline Dyes:
    These are synthetic dyes used for colouring leather. Aniline dyes provide a transparent and natural appearance, allowing the natural grain of the leather to show.
    Pigments:
    Pigments are used to create opaque and solid colours on leather surfaces. They provide colour consistency and are often used in upholstery and other applications.
  • Finishing Agents
    Resins and Polymers:¬†Polyurethane and acrylic resins are used in finishing processes to enhance the leather’s appearance, durability, and resistance to wear.
    Waxes and Oils: Various waxes and oils are applied during finishing to provide a desired texture, shine, and protection to the leather.
  • Softening Agents
    Lubricants and Fat liquors:
    These are used to soften the leather, improve its flexibility, and make it more pliable. Emulsified oils, synthetic fat liquors, and natural oils fall into this category.
  • Preservatives and Biocides
    Biocides:
    Used to prevent microbial growth and decay of leather. Various antimicrobial agents may be employed to protect the leather from bacterial or fungal attacks during storage and transportation.
  • Surfactants and Cleaning Agents
    Surfactants:
    Used in cleaning and degreasing processes to remove impurities and excess fat from the leather surface.
  • Auxiliary Chemicals
    Acids and Alkalis:
    Used for pH adjustment in different stages of leather processing.
    Enzymes: Used in processes like bating and soaking to facilitate the removal of unwanted proteins and substances.
  • Environmental Considerations
    Due to environmental concerns, there is a growing emphasis on the use of eco-friendly and sustainable chemicals in the leather industry. Water-based and chrome-free tanning processes are gaining popularity.