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After thoroughly fleshing, de-hairing and scraping, the hide is ready to be brained. I mix my brains in a blender because the more thoroughly liquidated the more efficient the tanning solution. You can just mash them up by hand, though. It is also a good idea to mix them in warm water. Some people prefer actually 'cooking' them in the water, just don't boil them or actually cook them. Use just enough water to cover the hide. Now, Paul Dinsmore has illustrated to us that you can actually use one pound of brain to 5 gallons of water if you pre-smoke. The smoke is like an enzyme that strips the glues from the hide therefore allowing more efficient penetration of the brains. There are also many other methods of stripping these glues. There is an excellent article on this in Primitive Technology.

You then soak the hide in the brains about 15 minutes, working and wringing the hide in the solution. You then take the hide out and thoroughly wring it out using a fence rail and a stick or whatever works. Wringing is very important to good brain penetration. Soak and wring several times within an hour. It shouldn't take longer than this for a good braining. You can tell when you have good brain penetration when you can stretch the hide on any part of the hide in any direction and it stretches 2-3 inches. The brains also bleach the hide out white and it is also at this time that any left over epidermis will show up yellowish and any missed hair follicles will look like pepper all over the hide.

Benjamin Pressley
TRIBE, P.O. Box 20015, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA