How Natural Leather Chamois are Made
A genuine leather chamois is made by selecting the finest quality skins, splitting and selecting a specific layer of a sheepskin, and then tanning and buffing it to create an extremely soft, absorbent and durable drying cloth. The unique combination of quality sheepskin and the process of tanning with marine oils make genuine leather chamois the safest and most effective solution for drying and shining delicate surfaces.
Sourcing the Sheepskin
Making a great chamois begins with the selecting the finest sheepskins, and, it is well known that, the finest sheepskins come from New Zealand. New Zealand’s extensive natural pasture, nutritious grasses, and cooler and consistent climate produces a thicker and higher quality hide. Unlike the more arid regions which produce sheep (such as Iran, Texas, and South America), New Zealand hides, are much better suited to making chamois’ because of their protein structure, size, weight and strength. And our New Zealand presence allows us to closely monitor the market to insure that we begin with only the highest quality skins.
Splitting the Sheepskin for a Chamois
Once selected, the process of making a natural leather chamois from the skin begins by splitting the hide. Depending on thickness, a single skin may produce 2 to 4 different “splits” or layers that can then made into a variety of different types of products. However, it is the “flesh split” of the sheepskin that is used to make a chamois cloth.
Tanning the chamois Split
The “flesh split” is then tanned with fish (or marine) oils, a process in which the long-chain proteins that are linear, tight, flat and water-neutral are converted to a more multi-dimensional, open, spongy, hydrophilic or water absorbent material, making the leather durable, absorbent and soft. The tanning process not only changes the structure of the material, but also preserves the leather. The marine oils used in the process of tanning a chamois not only make the cloth absorbent, but also allows it to shine a surface as it dries. Left untreated, the leather would quickly breakdowns and fall apart. It is, therefore, essential that a chamois cloth never be “cleaned” with any type of degreasing agent (including laundry detergent, Dawn, Simple Green, etc…) or chemical that could strip away the protective tanning oils.
Creating the Chamois Nap
One of the essential properties of a quality chamois cloth is nap. Nap allows the chamois to pull dirt and grit away from the surface of the cloth and trap it deep in the fiber, away from the delicate finish being dried. A chamois cloth’s nap is created by buffing it on a large wheel, which breaks and splits the ends of some of the surface fibers, imparting the suede like texture.