Everything You Need to Know About Buffalo Leather
What is Buffalo Leather?
Buffalo leather is derived from domestic buffalo hides. The buffalo leather has a unique and different grain pattern as compared to cow or goat leather. This leather is extremely durable as the buffalo skin is much thicker as compared to cow and other animal hides generally in use. Besides being thick, this leather is still very soft and flexible which makes it an ideal material for premium leather goods such as leather bags, leather accessories, jackets, etc.
Where does Buffalo Leather come from?
Many folks use the terms buffalo and bison interchangeably as the North American bison is often called buffalo. But when it comes to leather, buffalo and bison leather are not the same. The term buffalo leather usually means leather derived from Asian Water Buffalo.
Buffalo leather is derived from the domestic buffalos, mostly Asian Water Buffalo usually raised for milk or meat. At the end of their life, the skin is used to make leather by processing it with different methods. In India, a major percentage of the total milk produced is buffalo milk and hence the population of domestic buffalos is very high.
How is buffalo leather made?
Let’s now see how buffalo leather is made.
The hides are removed immediately after a buffalo dies, and is salted to prevent further decay. The buffalo hide is then dried for 3 to 6 days. The rawhides are then sent to tanneries for further process.
Cleaning the rawhides
For removing any dirt from the hide and making it cleaner, it is soaked in water and disinfectants. The hides are then de-haired and fleshed to remove excess hair and flesh.
Preparation for tanning
De-liming is done to make hides free of chemicals and remove unwanted components.
Pickling is done to make leather ready for the tanning process by keeping it at low ph. and avoiding rotting.
This process makes the hide ready for further processes, such as dyeing. Tanning is followed by withering to remove any residual water from the wet skins through metal rolls.
Most buffalo leather in India is processed by an old-school technique called vegetable tanning by using organic vegetable oils. In the end, the buffalo hides are re-tanned and dyed to give the desired color, texture, and look to it such as oiled, matte, polished, glossy, and embossed.
Once finished, manufacturers use buffalo leather hides to convert them into fashionable products such as leather bags, furniture, jackets, and other accessories.
What does Buffalo Leather look like?
The skin structure of the buffalo has large pores and this is evident in leather derived from it. Its leather comes in various colors and finishes as per the final desired use. The buffalo hides have a more distinct and unique grain pattern as compared to cowhide. This distinct pattern is very much desirable by leather lovers so to protect the natural grain appearance, the hides are not stretched. Buffalo leather has wider and thicker fibres as compared to cowhide which also makes it extremely durable.
Is Buffalo Leather Durable?
Buffalo or Bison leather is not stretched like cowhide and hence it is much thicker and has higher durability and strength as compared to cow or goat leather. The full-grain Bison leather is one of the strongest and highest quality leather that you can buy. If used with care, the buffalo leather goods will last a very long time and also age with attractive natural patina over time.
What is Water Buffalo Leather?
Water buffalo leather is the leather derived from the Asian water buffalo skin. The Asian water buffalos have a large population throughout the Asian subcontinent. They are also reared by the local villagers for milk and for tilling the fields. Water buffalo leather is famous for its natural grain, supple feel, and great strength.
What is Full Grain Buffalo Leather?
Full-grain bison leather is the topmost layer of hiding with all the natural grain and imperfections left intact. The full-grain buffalo leather is very thick and extremely durable. It is one of the highest quality leather available.
What is Top Grain Buffalo Leather?
Top-grain buffalo leather is the second-best quality of leather. The top layer of leather with all imperfections has been removed or sanded out to get a regular and uniform texture of leather. As the buffalo leather is 2-3 times thicker than cow leather, removing the top layer still leaves a very strong and thick leather.
Buffalo Leather vs. Bison leather
Many folks use the terms buffalo and bison interchangeably as the North American bison is often called buffalo. But they are different breeds of animals and hence when it comes to leather, bison leather and buffalo leather are very similar in appearance but not the same.
Usually, if an item is described as Bison leather or buffalo leather in the US, it is referring to leather derived from American Bison. Early Americans used to also call the Bison as Buffalo and hence the name stuck. But if you are looking for actual buffalo leather, you need to pay attention to where the leather is sourced. The actual buffalo leather is derived from two main buffalo species namely Asian water buffalo and African Cape buffalo.
Apart from their origin, both bison and buffalo leather are extremely durable, thick, and have a distinct attractive grain pattern. Choose which one you would prefer and with proper care, you can enjoy the leather for a lifetime to come.
Buffalo Leather vs. Cow Leather
Let’s now see how buffalo and bison leather is different from cow leather.
While the manufacturing of cow leather typically involves modern techniques and chemicals, buffalo leather is usually made with an organic tanning process using vegetable oils. Also, this type of leather is not usually stretched during the manufacturing process like cow leather.
Bison and cow leather are both very durable and have great strength. But the ultimate durability of any leather depends on its thickness, the Bison leather hides are not stretched while processing, and hence they remain much thicker as compared to cow leather, and hence this leather is considered more durable and strong.
The skin structure of the buffalo has large pores and this is evident in leather derived from it. The bison and buffalo leather have a more distinct and unique grain pattern as compared to cowhide.
The bison leather is 2-3 times thicker than cowhide. So, this leather whether in full grain or top grain is very durable and most suitable for a premium range of products that involves rough usage.
Buffalo Leather vs. Lambskin Leather
Lambskin leather is much finely grained leather and has a soft texture. Lambskin leather is thinner and much prone to stains, whereas buffalo leather is very thick and coarse-grained which makes it very durable and suitable for products that involve rough usage.
Is Buffalo Leather Expensive?
Generally buffalo and bison leather is more expensive because of the quality and strength it possesses. Though the buffalo and bison are large animals the leather hide derived from them are smaller in the area because they are not stretched as compared to cow leather.
The ultimate price of leather still depends on the grade of leather such as full-grain, top-grain, bonded, etc.
Is Buffalo Leather Waterproof?
Like any other real leather, bison leather is not completely waterproof. Leather is a porous material and the extent to which it can resist the penetration of water depends on how it has been treated with oils, waxes, or waterproof coatings.
There are a variety of waxes and sprays available in the market with which you can waterproof leather. One can also use beeswax to waterproof the leather to a certain extent. Still, it is always advisable to dry the leather as soon as possible.
Pros and Cons of Buffalo Leather
Like any other material, buffalo leather has both pros and cons. Let’s look at some of them.
The durability of Bison leather is legendary. As this leather is not stretched so it is very thick, its strength and elasticity give it high resistance to ripping.
Bison leather is very porous and it breathes, a lot like our skin which absorbs and releases moisture making it a comfortable material for clothing. It also adapts according to the temperature.
3. Environmental effect
Bison leather is less chemically treated and mostly tanned using natural vegetable oils which leads to environmental friendliness.
4. Distinct grain pattern
Buffalo leather has a distinct and attractive grain pattern, it also comes in various finishes and colors which adds to its versatility.
Bison leather is slightly more expensive than cowhide or goat hide.
2.Prone to Stains
Bison leather has a porous texture and hence it gets easily stained.
Suitability of Buffalo Leather and Bison Leather
Buffalo and bison leather is thick and durable which makes it suitable for leather products that involve rough usage. Also, this leather comes in a wide range of colors and finishes which makes it an attractive choice for fashionable goods which require extra strength such as leather bags, leather wallets, and purses, leather travel accessories, handbags, shoes, jackets, etc.
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