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Dyeing leather black with vinegar and rusty metal?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Joe Link, Jul 5, 2016.

  1. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Back in 2003 I purchased a black Milt Sparks vegetable tanned cowhide belt, which I've been wearing daily since. It's held up great, but it's time to redye it. As odd as it sounds, I've read one of the best ways to do this is by using a mixture of white vinegar and rusty metal. From my understanding you put the rusty metal (nails, steel wool, apparently anything works?) in the jug of vinegar and let it sit for a week or so. You then dip the leather in it, let it dry, oil it, and it becomes a shiny jet black color that doesn't rub off. Some also recommend neutralizing it with a baking soda and water mixture after running it through.

    Has anyone tried this? If so, any tips?

    I'm having a hard time believing it works, so if someone could explain the how and why it works I'd be interested in hearing it. I really don't want to ruin this fantastic belt :D
  2. ogre

    ogre Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I've never made vinegaroon myself. I always reach for the leather dye.
  3. BlackRyder

    BlackRyder Edmonds Well-Known Member

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    Vinegaroon – A.K.A. Vinegar Black - Adams LeatherWorks (http://www.adamsleatherworks.com/vinegaroon-a-k-a-vinegar-black/)

    I tried this once, worked pretty well although the vinegaroon resulted in a not completely black color, more like a dark, dark blueish color but it still looked really nice. I think I would try it with balsamic vinegar the next time, instead of white vinegar (which is what I had on hand).
    And yes, you need to dip it in a mixture of water and baking soda when you finish otherwise the vinegar will eventually break down the leather. Let us know how it works!