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So I ordered a bunch of trapping stuff the other day including some Dixietan paste and a sheffield knife. Of course I had to try out the knife so I pulled out an old mostly fleshed deer hide I've been storing in battery acid for the past few years.

Long story short the knife is a amazing. :) Anyways I'm using that Dixietan to tan the hide and in following directions under step 4 its having me rub in a soap paste before I rub in some oil. What does the soap do?

Another weird question I didn't have any Borax to soak the hid in so I used baking soda. Which one place on the internet made sound like it was equivalent. What was the Borax supposed to do and did the baking soda do that for me?
 
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