# How well (or poorly) does natural leather insulate?

What is the general thermal conductivity of animal skin leather?

I understand there are many different animal's skins (cow, sheep, buffalo, deer, pig), but in general, does natural leather insulate well (compared to, for scale, an esky for food insulation), or not?

Interestingley enough, there are papers entirely devoted to the subject of measuring the properties of living skin. The paper linked gives a value of $7 \times 10^{-4}~\mathrm{\frac{cal}{cm\, s\, °C}}$ for human skin, or in everyday units used nowadays: $0.29 ~\mathrm{\frac{W}{m\, K}}$. This is only for the dermis, the part of skin that then gets transformed into leather.

Now, this website has a comprehensive list of many different thermal conductivity values, and dry leather clocks in at $0.14 ~\mathrm{\frac{W}{m\, K}}$, which is about 2 times less the conductivity than that of living skin. What a difference the tanning process can make!

Given the similarity observed in the review paper between man, beef and porcine tissue, I think it is fair to say that the value for leather will not change greatly across species.

• I feel that my answer is somehow insufficient, since it's gotten so many upvotes but hasn't been accepted. Is there something that's missing, @foregon? Feb 11 '14 at 14:16
• sorry about that, your answer was fabulous I think it was just me not finishing looking into the matter and I tend to wait until I definitively find the answer until I can ark something answered (if it is not clear) but upon cursory look of yours again it is indeed sufficient, thank you for the superb research and links!!
– user1469
Mar 20 '14 at 2:14

I never worked in that field and thus had to google it myself ;)

Apart from the general observation that leather is indeed a good heat insulator, there seems to be an article in the Journal of the AQEIC (Asociación Química Española de la Industria del Cuero) addressing the question quantitatively.