All About Tannins

All About Tannins

Four sustainably sourced tannin plants

Natural tannins are sourced from different plants, present either in bark, leaves, wood, fruits or roots. Ecotan products utilize 4 tannin sources: chestnut and quebracho wood, tara pods and gallnuts. Chestnut tannin is the primary ingredient in all Ecotan products.

Silvateam farming/growing practices support local economies, meet strict local environmental standards and do not degrade the environment (land, air, water).

Chestnut

The chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) is a native deciduous tree widespread around the Mediterranean basin. The tree grows rapidly and reaches its maximum size at 50 years of age.

Tara

Caesalpinia spinosa is a tree that is indigenous to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, where it bears fruit from April until December. This plant tolerates dry climates and nutrient-poor soils.

Gallnuts

Aleppo oak (Quercus infectoria) is a small tree native of Asia Minor. The galls arise on young branches of the oak tree when gall wasps sting the oak tree and deposit their eggs.

Quebracho

Quebracho colorado (Schinopsis lorentzii and Schinopsis balansae), commonly referred to as quebracho, is an evergreen tree that grows wild in South America in dense sub-tropical forests.

Chestnut

The chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) is a native deciduous tree widespread around the Mediterranean basin. The tree grows rapidly and reaches its maximum size at 50 years of age.

Tara

Caesalpinia spinosa is a tree that is indigenous to the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, where it bears fruit from April until December. This plant tolerates dry climates and nutrient-poor soils.

Gallnuts

Aleppo oak (Quercus infectoria) is a small tree native of Asia Minor. The galls arise on young branches of the oak tree when gall wasps sting the oak tree and deposit their eggs.

Quebracho

Quebracho colorado (Schinopsis lorentzii and Schinopsis balansae), commonly referred to as quebracho, is an evergreen tree that grows wild in South America in dense sub-tropical forests.

How do tannins protect plants?

Animal pests ‘attack’ on a macro scale by eating plant tissue. Tannins actively repel these attacks thanks to their unpleasant taste, which discourages animals from consuming plants containing large quantities of tannins. For this reason, tannins are often concentrated in the wood (edible tissue) and fruit of plants.

In contrast, viruses and bacteria attack on a micro scale by invading plant tissue, then modifying its physiology. Tannins defend plant cells by actively attacking the external surfaces of bacteria and viruses, destroying them on contact.

Borrow nature’s solution to preserve and protect

Long ago, humans discovered that plant tannins could repel bacterial attack without discriminating between defending plant tissue or animal proteins. In an ironic human-directed twist of evolution, we repurposed a plant’s evolved defense against microbes to protect animal tissue against microbial attack.

For the tanning process we use the plant tannins (their natural defense against bacterial attack) and bind them to collagen (the main protein and primary component of animal hides) to create a durable, long-lasting, material like no other: leather.

Long ago, humans discovered that plant tannins could repel bacterial attack without discriminating between defending plant tissue or animal proteins. In an ironic human-directed twist of evolution, we repurposed a plant’s evolved defense against microbes to protect animal tissue against microbial attack.

For the tanning process we use the plant tannins (their natural defense against bacterial attack) and bind them to collagen (the main protein and primary component of animal hides) to create a durable, long-lasting, material like no other: leather.

How do tannins work to tan hides and skins?

Tannins are “astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules”. In the tanning process we bind selected tannins to collagen by temporarily altering pH levels. The action of tannin has been likened to little but powerful grains of sand stuck between large wheels of protein molecules called collagen.

Their presence prevents leather proteins from decomposing. Once established, tannin bonds remain in place for the entire life of the leather article.

Making tannins:

a no waste process

Making tannins: a no waste process

Tannins are obtained using sustainably sourced wood that is chipped in small pieces, dipped in hot water like making tea before before being extracted. The liquid extract is then turned into a powder thanks to a spray-drying process.

Spent materials used to make tannins rejoin nature or are upcycled into useful products and clean water.

Compost

Wood fiber and sediments, remaining in small quantities after the extraction process, are turned into compost.

Biomass

Remnant wood chips are turned into certified ENplus A1 pellets for wood stoves and biomass for power plants.

Water

The water used during production returns to the environment just as it was taken out or through evaporation.