Gränsfors axes come with a sheath made from vegetable-tanned leather.
The leather is tanned to prevent it being broken down by bacteria. The tanning preserves and improves the natural properties of the leather and can be done either through treatment with natural vegetable products such as bark from various trees, flowers and roots, known as vegetable tanning, or through treatment with chromium, known as chrome tanning.
Vegetable-tanned leather dates back many thousands of years. In ancient river cultures, animal hides came into contact with bark, leaves or fruit and changed so that they no longer rotted away in water and heat. Today, vegetable tanning largely involves the same system but using more efficient methods. Vegetable-tanned leather is free from heavy metals and is biodegradable.
In the tanning process, the hide goes through various different treatments such as salting, stripping (removing fat and tissue), washing, re-wetting, pH neutralisation and so on. The hide is then treated in a huge ‘washing machine’ with natural tannins from the plant kingdom. This gives it a natural feel, dimensional stability and an attractive patina.
Gränsfors Bruk has specifically chosen not to use chrome-tanned leather, as we feel that its green credentials are not sufficiently high. Chrome tanning was developed in the late 19th century in order to treat hides in a cheaper way than vegetable tanning. Chrome-tanned leather commonly retains traces of chromium, which can cause allergic reactions and is also not biodegradable.