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You're A Bootman

Protecting Your Boots
By Crombie

Generally, when it comes to leather that isn't roughout or suede, you want to look at two factors: conditioning and shine/protection.

Leather is like your skin, it needs to be nourished or it'll be damaged.  In humans, you can just drink water and maybe use some lotion.  For leather, it depends on how it was tanned.

Regarding oil-tanned leather, I've seen liquid treatments (Wesco Bee Oil, Huberd's Shoe Oil, Obenauf's Leather Oil, Mink Oil, Neetsfoot Oil, Lexol) and greases and creams (Huberd's Shoe Grease, Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP, Wesco Mink Oil Creme, Zagg Leather Creme, etc).  The main differences between types is how quickly it has a chance to penetrate vs. how much gets to penetrate.  It depends a lot on how it's applied too, in my experience.

I've stuck to using Huberd's Shoe Grease for my Wescos.  I found that oils, which I usually had to apply with a cloth, mostly got absorbed by the cloth.  Though oils generally can penetrate faster, I had less control in regards to it staying where I wanted.  Huberd's takes longer to absorb, but I can just leave it set on there to absorb a greater amount.  Also, I can apply it with my bare hands.

Regarding silicone-tanned leather, I have less personal experience, but I'm finding a product online called Pecard's Silicone Liquid Dressing which can be used on it and dry-tanned leathers (like combat boots, I guess).  Wesco also makes a Silicone Protectant.

Before starting, clean the leather first, let it dry, then make sure it is at room temperature or a little warmer.  Rubbing the leather will warm it a little, which opens the pores and makes it easier to absorb treatment.  You could set your boots out in the sun for a short period if the weather is nice, then do the work outside.

Apply your favored conditioner in multiple stages until the leather won't absorb any more, or absorbs it very slowly.  Once you've done that, use a cloth to wipe off any excess.

Finally, you can look into the shine/protection process.  Oil-tanned leather generally doesn't "shine" so much as "glow" and I usually don't add any additional products.  If you are restoring old leather, prior to conditioning you may want to use some leather dye to restore color from any scuffs.  For leather that will accept a shine, though, there are products such as Kiwi's Paste Polish and Parade Gloss.  These will give you a glossy finish to the leather and add an additional layer of protection.  You might also consider waterproofing products like Obenauf's Watershield.

For oil-tanned leather, if you want further protection from the elements, you could apply a wax-based product like Wesco Bee Seal Plus.  It'll leave the leather a little tacky and more prone to picking up dust, so I generally leave that for winter months.

That's the sum of my experiences and insight for general leather care.  I hope this information has been helpful to you.


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