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Enzymes for Leather

One of the oldest applications of industrial enzymes is processing hides and skins for leather. Hides and skins contain proteins and fat in between collagen fibres and before tanning; these substances should be partially and fully removed. The proteins can be removed by proteases and lipases as well as other chemicals can remove the fat. Today, proteases and lipases are mainly used for soaking, bating and enzyme assisted un-hairing. Using lipases to dissolve and remove fat is a recent development and lipases are now extensively used for leather processing in many parts of the world.

Maps is a major supplier of enzyme to the leather industry in India and across the globe. We offer total enzyme solutions for bating, un-haring, degreasing and soaking in the beam-house processes. With the introduction of our new range of products based on Microorganisms, we assure to provide clean and green leather tanneries.


To make leather pliable, the hides and skins require an enzymatic treatment before tanning know as bating. During bating, scud is loosened and other unwanted proteins are removed. Bating de-swells swollen pelts and prepares leather for tanning. It makes the grain surface of the finished leather clean, smooth and fine. Bating with enzymes is an indispensable operation of leather processing to obtain best quality of leather and cannot be substituted with a chemical process.

Traditional methods for bating employed manure of dog, pigeon or hen. These were very unpleasant, unreliable and slow methods. Bio-technical developments in science have now completely replaced these methods with use of industrial enzymes.

Maps offers a range of proteases for bating which work in different pH conditions.

Palkobate Protease for bating in alkaline pH conditions
Palkocid Protease for bating in acidic pH conditions


Soaking is first important operation of leather processing. Hides and skins received into a tannery are in the four conditions, as green or fresh, as wet salted, as dry salted or as dried. It is advisable to carry out soaking for all types of skin and hides to obtain best quality leather. Soaking cleans hides and skins by removing dirt, blood, flesh, grease, dung etc. and most importantly, re-hydrates them to bring skins as far as possible back to state of green hides. Soaking agents fall into three categories, like Chemical Agents, Surface-active agents and Enzymatic agents.

Enzymatic agents are biocatalyst. Specific protease and lipase enzymes enhance water uptake by dissolving intrafibrillary proteins that cement fibres together and disperse fats and oils together with dirt and other contaminants present on skin.

Maps offers a range of protease and lipase for soaking which work in different pH conditions.

Palkosoak A mixture of protease and lipase for soaking in alkaline pH conditions
Palkosoak ACP A mixture of protease and lipase for soaking in acidic pH conditions


The conventional and most wide spread way to remove hair from bovine hides is to use lime and sodium sulphide in a hair-burning process. They dissolve the hair and open up the fibre structure.

Most importantly, enzyme-assisted un-hairing results in a cleaner grain surface and improved area yield and softness. The use of a specific protease also offers tanneries a number of options. For instance, the sulphide and lime requirements can be reduced by as much as 40% while maintaining the same liming time. Alternatively tanners can shorten the liming time by at least half without any loss of quality. Another possibility is to avoid the use of amines, which can be converted into carcinogenic compounds.

The hair-burning process is the most widespread but a better alternative to this, is the hair-saving process, which is environment friendly, where the hair is not dissolved but can be filtered out from the liming float. It is possible to reduce the COD up to 50% and BOD up to 30% in waste discharges.

Maps offers a specific protease for un-hairing which can be used either alone or in combination lime and sodium sulphide

Palkodehair Protease for un-hairing in high alkaline pH conditions


Lipases are a type of enzyme that specifically degrades fat and so cannot damage the leather itself. Lipases hydrolyse not just the fat on the outside of the hides and skins, but also the fat inside the skin structure. Once most of the natural fat has been removed, subsequent chemical treatments such as tanning, re-tanning and dyeing have a better effect.

The main advantages of using lipases are a more uniform colour and a cleaner appearance. Lipases also improve the production of hydrophobic (waterproof) leather; makers of leather for car upholstery have commented that 'fogging' is reduced. This is the term for the build-up of a film of chemicals on the inside of car windscreens

Lipases represent a more environmentally sound method of removing fat. For bovine hides, lipases allow tensides to be replaced completely. For sheepskins, which contain up to 40% fat, the use of solvents is very common and these can also be replaced with lipases and surfactants. Solvents tend to dry out the skin and give it a pale colour

If surfactants are used for sheepskins, they are usually not as effective and may be harmful to the environment. Stronger surfactants such as nonyl phenol ethoxylate have a better effect but they are more detrimental to the environment. When using lipases, the original surfactant dosage can be reduced by at least 50% in the case of both sheepskins and pigskins. In addition, nonyl phenol ethoxylate can be substituted with more biodegradable surfactants.

Maps offers a range of lipases for degreasing which work in different pH conditions

Palkodegrease Lipase for degreasing in neutral to alkaline pH conditions
Palkodegrease AL Lipase for degreasing in acidic pH conditions


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