A genuine leather chamois is made by tanning and buffing a specific layer of a sheepskin to create an extremely soft, absorbent and durable drying cloth. It is the unique combination of the sheepskin and the tanning process that make chamois cloths uniquely suited to safely drying and shining delicate surfaces.
The process of making a natural leather chamois begins by splitting the skin to remove the grain or top layer. One skin, depending on thickness, may produce 2 to 4 different splits or layers that are then made into a variety of diverse products. The “flesh split” of the sheepskin is the layer used in the production of a chamois cloth.
The split is tanned in marine or fish oils, which convert the long-chain proteins from a linear, tight, flat water-neutral fiber structure to a multi-dimensional, open, spongy, hydrophilic or water absorbent material: making the leather soft, absorbent and durable. It is the tanning process that changes the structure of the material and preserves the leather; untreated leather quickly breakdowns and falls apart. Because of the type of tanning process used, it is essential that a finished chamois cloth never be “cleaned” with any type of degreasing agent or chemical that could strip away the protective oils.
The nap of the chamois cloth is created by buffing the skins on large wheels that impart the suede like texture by breaking and splitting the ends of some of the fibers so that they protrude or stick out from the surface of the cloth. And it is the nap which serves to pull in dirt particles into the fibers and away from the surface and into the cloth, protecting the finish. The oils used in the tanning process not only make the cloth very absorbent, but also allows it to shine a surface as it dries it.