The Differences Between Chrome and Veg Tan Leather

The Differences Between Chrome and Veg Tan Leather

The best thing about leather is that its beauty grows with age. Products made of leather are famous for their durable nature and classy appearance. However, you are probably unaware of so much involved in the leather production process.

Animal hide is converted to the leather after going through a tanning process. Tanning is essential in the leather making since it prevents the leather from rotting and putrefying. It also prepares the leather for a wide range of applications.

There are two main types of tanning – chrome tanning and vegetable tanning:

Chrome Tanning

It is a fast and cost-effective method of producing leather from animal skin. The process involves using chrome sulphate, salt, acid dyes, and other chemicals to soak the animal skin in a metal chromium solution. Chrome tanned leather can be dyed. Therefore, it is available in unlimited colour options compared to vegetable-tanned leather from vibrant to dark. It is also water-resistant, soft, and heat resistant.


Advantages of Chrome Tanning

  • Cost-Effective
    Chrome tanning is a cost-effective way of producing leather from animal skin. Tanneries using chrome tanning technology can complete the production process in as little as one day. Due to this, bags and other leather goods produced through chrome tanning are more affordable than the vegetable-tanned option.

  • Unlimited colour options
    Different types of dyes can be used in the chrome tanning process. Therefore, you can choose a wide range of colour options, creating that inspiration for your next project.

  • Water Resistant
    Chrome tanned leather is more water-resistant than vegetable-tanned leather. The leather is also resistant to stains and heat.

Find out the wide range of colours available at Karmine


Vegetable Tanning

It is an ancient technique that has been around for ages. It is considered higher quality and will last longer than synthetically treated leather. The leather hide is first soaked in the vegetable liquid with liquids from the bark, leaves and roots of specific plants, then put in the sun to dry. The leather will be tanned with tannins (naturally occurring astringents).

Vegetable-tanned leathers are thick but flexible enough to stretch and mould. Though Vegetable Tanning is perhaps the oldest method of tanning, it could take up to a year for each hide to be processed, but modern vegetable tanning takes between one and three months.


Advantages of Vegetable-Tanned Leather

  • Breathable
    With the absence of synthetic coating, vegetable-tanned leather is breathable and can easily absorb oil and moisture. Its beauty and quality with therefore increase with time. This increases the value of the product.
  • Environmentally Friendly
    Since organic and natural substances are used in the production process, vegetable-tanned leather is also environmentally friendly.  The process uses organic, natural substances and tends to naturally bio grade over time.

Explore Veg Tan Leather Hides at Karmine Leathercraft


Differences between Chrome Tan and Veg Tan Leather Summary


Chrome Tanned Leather

Vegetable Tanned Leather

Production Time

One day

Over a month

Physical Appearance

Available in a wide range of colours. But it may fade over time.

Limited colours available - Earthy tones from neutral, brown and black. The quality tends to improve with time.

Tanning Agent


Salts and chemicals

Extracts from bark, roots and leaves of exotic plants


  • Stretchy
  • Water and heat resistant
  • Versatile
  • Thin and flexible
  • Thick
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Environmentally friendly


Less expensive

More expensive

Suitable for

Furniture, upholstery, bags, wallets and clothing.

Bags, wallets, belts, and harnesses.


Which type of leather should I choose?

The type of tanned leather you choose depends on your project and how you’d like it to look. Chrome tanned leather is great for almost any project whether it be small bags and accessories to clothing. The range of colours is unlimited, range of finishes from matt to satin finishes and is easy to clean.

Vegetable tanned leather ages over time with use and wear, it is only available in earthy tones and is limited to projects that need structure. Bags and wallets are great options for vegetable tanned leather. Try our 1kg leather off cuts, a cost-effective way to experiment with chrome leather before you buy a full leather hide.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Vegetable-Tanned Leather Waterproof?

No. exposing your vegetable tanned leather products to water can stain the leather.


How Can You Clean Tanned Leather Products?

Check out our leather care range. Our leather care range can be used on all your chrome tanned colours. Use our leather conditioner with our leather care cloth or use our anti-bacterial wipes for a quick clean of your leather goods.


Assistance and advice: We have the experience and expertise to set you in the right direction if you require any assistance or advice. Simply contact us by phone or email.

We pride ourselves on quality craftsmanship that makes our products unique and long-lasting - Karmine Leathercraft

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