What is the difference between natural and synthetic leather?

Even though the quality of synthetic leather has increased tremendously, you can still easily tell the difference between the two. Here is a list of the most prominent differences that you can find between natural and synthetic leather:

•   The smell

You will be able to notice a smell in both natural and synthetic leather. However, the smell of synthetic leather reminds chemical and vinyl odors. Natural leather, on the other hand, has a uniquely rich, earthy, and slightly sweet odor. This is probably one of the easiest ways to differentiate synthetic from natural leather.

•  The surface

Natural leather was always associated with fine lines, tiny pores and a smooth gloss while synthetic leather used to be extremely glossy and lack of fine lines or pores. This has changed a lot because of the recent developments in synthetic leather processing technology making it more difficult to tell one from the other, but you can still figure out the differences with careful inspection. 

Elf Bread 1.3 - Rolling Tobacco Pouch

 •   The backside

The backside of synthetic leather has a fabric treatment whereas natural leather is rough and is called suede. However, leather coating technology has developed tremendously over the past years making the two look more similar than ever. If looking at the backside is not enough to tell, look for seams poking out of synthetic leather - they are normally treated with thin fabric or gauze. 

The backside of natural leather product:

Elf Bread 2.1 - Wallet

•   Burn it

When you burn a small piece of synthetic leather on fire, it curls inwards. In fact, it curls even if it barely touches the fire - synthetic leather is extremely flammable. It also releases an unpleasant smell of burnt plastic. Genuine leather, on the other hand, hardly catches fire. 

 •  Fold it

Genuine leather folds in a gentle manner. It doesn't wrinkle easily because of the firmness that can be found in the curve. Synthetic leather does not deliver such a smooth curving. 

Elf Bread 1.1 - Pipe pouch

•  Place a water drop

Genuine leather has the ability to absorb water. If you place a drop of water, you will be able to see that it gets absorbed within 10 seconds. Synthetic leather does not have this ability.  

These are a few of the most effective methods available out there to differentiate and identify genuine from fake leather. 


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