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Collagen Hydrolysate

Collagen hydrolysate is collagen that has been broken down through hydrolysis. Hydrolysis is when a molecule is split in two by adding a hydrogen ion (H+) to one part and a hydroxyl ion (HO-) to the other part. Collagen hydrolysate is smaller than regular collagen. Collagen hydrolysate is recycled in the leather industry to improve the quality of some types of leather and avoid environmental damage.

Collagen Hydrolysate for Leather
Leather is created by tanning the skin from animals. This process goes back to ancient times. Even when tanners used all natural products and methods they produced unpleasant waste materials. Tanneries were often banished to less populated parts of a region so that these pollutants would not make life unpleasant for people.

In modern times, researchers have made tanning more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Modern tanners turn the raw cowhides that beef producers would otherwise throw away into a valuable material. America produces about 35 million cowhides each year. These cowhides turn into $1 billion worth of exported preserved hides. The rest is processed into $4 billion worth of finished leather in the USA.

The techniques for preserving and processing hides have become more environmentally friendly over the decades. For example, early tanners would preserve hides with table salt (NaCl) to make it impossible for bacteria to rot the hides. When this table salt is dumped into the environment, it lowers the fertility of the soil and leaches out vital minerals from the land. Researchers have developed more environmentally friendly ways to cure hides, such as applying potash (KCl) or irradiation.

Collagen Hydrolysate and  Leather Shavings

Recycling materials from tanning is another environmentally friendly improvement. Hides are treated with chromium-III sulfate, a nontoxic chemical, early in the processing. Tanners shave the hides at a later stage to give them a uniform thickness. The removed bits of leather are called chrome shavings. American tanners generate over 60,000 tones of chrome shavings annually.

Researchers have found ways to separate and recycle the components of chrome shavings. A trio of scientists developed a method for recovering the chrome from these chrome shavings and to generate two protein products from them. The first protein product used for animal feed and fertilizer. The second protein product is used adhesives, packaging films, and other applications.

A quartet of researchers extracted collagen hydrolysate from chrome shavings. They dubbed this product 'soluble skin'. It improves the leather grain properties, makes the leather softer, and increases the leather's resistance. The collagen hydrolysate restores the leather by masking any surface defects on it.

Effects of Collagen Hydrolysate on Leather
•    Better Grain Quality
•    Greater Resistance
•    Fewer Visible Imperfections
•    More Supple Feel

The leather industry turns hides from the beef industry into a valuable commodity. Developments over the years have made tanning more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Table salt has been replaced by potash and irradiation during curing. Chrome shavings are now broken down into components for recycling. One such component is collagen hydrolysate. It is formed by breaking up longer stands of collagen. Researchers apply the collagen hydrate to leather in order to cover imperfections, make the leather softer, raise the leather's resistance, and increase the quality of the leather grain. Collagen hydrolysate provides many benefits to the leather industry.


1. Tanning Research Update. Agricultural Research Service
United States Department of Agriculture

2. Collagen Hydrolysate: 'Soluble Skin' Applied in Post-Tanning Processes. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

3. Lane Labs Website