Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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zirconium tanning

A method of producing leather utilizing salts of zirconium, usually under very acid conditions. The high acidity permits the zirconium salts to precipitate basic salts at lower pH values (on the order of 2.0) than either aluminum or chromium, which are also used in the production of leather. Zirconium salts tend to be very astringent, and normally produce a tight, firm leather; they also cause rapid tannage of the grain of a leather and produce a fine, short nap on suede leathers. By the use of masking salts, such as acetates, their astringency can be reduced, resulting in a softer, smooth-grained leather. Zirconium-tanned leather is usually fuller and firmer than that produced by chrome tanning and actually feels more like a vegetable-tanned leather. The leather so produced is of a pleasing white color, has good light fastness, and is superior to alum-tawed skin in that it does not wash out and has a higher (90° C) shrinkage temperature. (248 , 306 , 363 )

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