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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kombucha "Tanning" Project Followup

If you read the post on making your own kombucha a few weeks ago, you know that my daughter, home from college for Christmas break, decided to experiment with a kombucha SCOBY.

Here's what happened...
After allowing the culture to thicken to about 5/16",
she placed it on a wooden cutting board to dry. 
After about two weeks and a little extra heat,
the culture was like a piece of oilcloth.
She laced a piece of waxed linen cord through
holes she punctured around the edge of the SCOBY.

Then she used walnut ink to stain the center of the "hide."
(the design you see is the plate underneath)

After doing henna tattoos with her sister,
she decided to see how well the dried culture would accept the stain.
It worked well and she followed that with a light coating
of oil to add some water proofing.

Here's the finished product...a little drawstring bag.
Enough spark to further more experimenting!

When tanning a traditional animal hide there's a few more steps involved that soften the skin. Because this involves re-wetting the hide, she was a little unsure how to proceed.  So these are things to plan for next time!

More Updates...since life has been pretty busy for my daughter, graduated college, more plays, jobs and is now married, she hasn't done much tanning of kombucha SCOBYs or animal hides...the pouch shown above has become a bit gooey over time.

  Watch for her guest post on tanning animal hides...coming later this year. Right now, she's back at school with a full load, a college play to rehearse and a missions trip planned for spring.  Your prayerful support of the team and the folks in Kosovo is greatly appreciated. There are needs to be met before this can become a reality.  For more info, contact me by email.

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Much herbal love,

A passion for organics


  1. Neat! I saw a video somewhere, were a person made a vest out of scobys. It's an intriguing thought!

  2. Greetings from Indonesia :)
    What a creative idea. What kind of oil to make it water proof? Is it temporary or permanent?

  3. @indokombucha
    It's all experimentation @ this stage so I'm not sure how well the waterproofing will work. She used jojoba oil. Thanks for visiting!

  4. That's very interesting!
    I'm currently growing a 2.5x 1.5 m kombucha scoby. It's now 7 weeks old.
    I make leather and buckskin so was interested in taking the scooby through the same processes. Will be updating my experiments either on the website of theforagedbookproject or on my own blog at wildman wild. food. Would be interested to hear about your discoveries.

  5. Very interesting! I'm currently growing a 2.5 x 1.5m kombucha scoby. I make leather and traditional egg or brain tanned buckskin, so was interested to put the scoby through the same processes involved. last night I cut off a strip and put it in tanning solution. Will take up to 3 months. If you are interested I will be describing the process at the website of the forager book project or on my blog at wildman wild food. Would be very interested to hear if you have already progressed further with similar experiments.

  6. @Fergus

    Thanks so much for your interest! This is my daughter's project and she's finishing college and branching off into other things so the experimenting hasn't gone much further. I'm encouraging her to do a guest post about her tanning adventure with a deer hide she harvested.
    I'll check your site for more info!

  7. @Sarah
    That video is here.
    The speaker notes that waterproofing is the main challenge in making clothing out of SCOBYs. I too am interested in any oiling/tanning/waterproofing process you or your daughter (or you, Fergus) come up with. Please update us if anyone has made advancements. :)

  8. Curious for an update - how did the tanning work out? Did the jojoba oil do the trick or does it get all over everything. Looking forward to an update!

  9. I spent 3 years figuring out how to tan fish skin (it was a lost process then). I was successful, so I am certain kombucha will tan well with a similar process. Kombucha is very pliable when dry, so no need to soften it like you do with skins, it absorbs pigment astoundingly well, which means it will absorb tannins like a sponge- tannins are what dyes and cures leather. After you cure it, iron an oil into it to fix the water absorbsion issue. If you want the oil to stay put use linseed or olive oil, and you can put some beeswax in the oil as well. It will take a lot of tannin and oil I am guessing. If correctly treated you can make it non-transparent as well.


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Preparing small batch natural, additive free products for beauty, health and home right here in our kitchen since 1991 from herbs grown organically in our garden, wild crafted in nearby meadows and woodlands or purchased from reputable, like-minded companies. Dried everlasting wreaths, arrangements and potpourri. Herbal salves, tinctures, soaps, teas and more.