What is chrome tanning? Is chrome tanning dangerous?

For those who do not know, it often is a bit scary hearing the word chrome and lambskin or sheepskin in the same sentence. It is a common question that we get regularly whether the chrome tanning process is dangerous or not. In this article about chromium, we will try to sort it all out so that you can feel safe when buying a lambskin from us!
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Short about chromium

By the end of the 19th century, it was discovered that chromium salts could be useful in the tanning process when making leather. It was a revolutionary discovery for the whole industry. Processes that used to take months and years could be made in about six weeks while using chrome.

What is chromium salt?

Chromium occurs in many forms with different salt formations. Chromium is found in nature and has the chemical designation Cr. One of the variations of chromium is green and has what is called a +3 charge. This is also called “3-valent chromium” (trivalent) and this formation is completely safe and not harmful at all. It is also an essential nutrient for the human body. A deficiency of 3-valent chromium can lead to the effect where the blood sugar can’t be used by the body correctly and you get a bigger craving for sweets!

How is chromium used in the tanning process?

The 3-valent chromium is the chromium that we use in our tanning process. This has been used for over 150 years all over the world and is confirmed as the best way to make the skin light and soft and to make the lambskin washable. It is used as the primary substance when tanning in about 85-90% of the world.

Where can you find the chromium in lambskin and sheepskin?

There are no chromium residues at all in the wool, it is bounded in the leather. It is completely harmless, otherwise, you would not be allowed to use it. There are no proofs that the 3-valent chromium could be dangerous in any way and therefore it is used in everything from leather furniture and leather shoes to bags, belts, clothes and more.

What is the difference between 3-valent chromium and 6-valent chromium?

There is a big difference between the 3-valent chromium and the 6-valent chromium. The 6-valent chromium is a yellow-red form of chromium that is toxic and carcinogenic. It has mostly been used in the painting industry. The 3-valent chromium is green and completely harmless.

Can you be allergic to chromium?

The answer that we have received from allergologists and the State Bacteriological Laboratory in Sweden was that you can be allergic, but it is very, very unusual. It should not be confused with nickel allergy which is a much more common allergy.


So, to sum this up we can say that the 3-valent, green chromium that is used in the preparation of lambskins and sheepskins is non-toxic and not dangerous at all. It is not to be confused with the 6-valent (hexavalent) chromium which is yellow-red and toxic. The toxic kind of chromium is prohibited to use in tanning procedures.