Real leather detection tests

A friend once asked me to buy her a leather wallet. With an emphasis on leather, which I have no idea how to identify, I was lost. You see, if the attendant tells me it’s leather, oh hey, that must really be a leather!

And so I went on to buy her a wallet and I bought mine, too, so I can try these two techniques for “leather detection” test.

Fire test

I read somewhere before that leathers do not burn easily and if they do, they just char slightly. While with faux leather, it catches fire and the surface curls up.  Also, faux leather smells like plastic when burnt. I tested it with this seven-second test and here are the results:

On a pig skin leather:


On a cowhide leather:


On a faux leather:


Needless to say, be careful with this test. Do it in an open space and make sure that you have a bucket of water near you, just in case the faux leather catches fire.

Water test

Water can do the leather test too. I placed a few drops of water on the leather surface and let the water sip in. Real ones sip water in after a few seconds, while the faux one just repel it.


Yes, you cannot do these techniques at the store, unless you want the security guard to escort you out.  Worry no more, there are quicker tests, I just opted to do the complicated ones first!

Two easier tests

1. Smell – it must smell “leathery” and the faux smells like, well, plastic; and
2. Touch – fake ones feel cold and the real ones are warm.

How about you, how do you know if it’s a real leather?


  1. I had no clue about these tests. This is very helpful. I’m always clueless in knowing if something is real leather or not. I just have to have trust. Nice to know that there are ways to be sure!

  2. This sure is something new to me and I find this pretty interesting. I used to buy leathered items. I have observed one of the bags I own now, the water doesn’t sip in. So I guess this might be a faux one. Anyhow, I definitely be trying the other techniques you have here.

    • Hi Zwitsy, some leathers are waterproofed, specially bags and shoes, to preserve it. So there is still a chance that your bag is made up of leather. You can use the smell and touch techniques, works everytime!

  3. Ahh I’m a vegetarian so I don’t buy any leather! If would be hypocritical if I did so I’m always checking that it’s not actually real leather! Ree love30

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