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 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
    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
    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.