Introduction: Home-made Leather Preserver and Waterproofing

Picture of Home-made Leather Preserver and Waterproofing

I have a Kangaroo leather Aussie ranchers style hat, which is now 3 years old and has never been either cleaned, nourished or re-waterproofed.

Now that we are in Autumn and moving into Winter I thought it was about time I did something to maintain and weatherproof my hat, along with several other leather items Lois & I own.

Rather than just going into town and buying something suitable from off the shelf, I decided to have a go at making some myself: a decision that I believe to be absolutely the right one now that I have used some of it.

Step 1:

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The Ingredients

200 ml of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

50g Beeswax: I was given about 250g of very old and very hard beeswax by a local beekeeping friend of mine.

20 drops of Lavender essential oil

10 drops of Tea Tree essential oil.

I have chosen to add the Lavender and Tea tree essential oils to make a nice smelling and insect repelling leather preserver....... but these are not necessary.

Step 2:

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The Method

Pour the Olive Oil into the jar, break up the Beeswax and add the pieces, and then place the jar and its contents into a pan of cold water.

Turn on the heat and begin to stir the mixture, continue doing this until the Beeswax has completely melted into the Olive Oil.

Remove from the heat, and carefully lift the (hot) jar and its contents from the pan. Add the essential oils and continue stirring the mixture until it cools and stiffens. This will take about 15 minutes, and it is not the most stimulating of tasks; I sat and did this while I watched the evening news on the TV.

Step 3:

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When it has completely cooled and stiffened you may begin to use it. I first tried it out on a long forgotten and very stiff (almost to the point of cracking) Leather belt. I gently rubbed the preserver into my belt, and then left it it for about 30 minutes. The old belt softened up extremely well and has now be given an new lease of life.

I have since used this preserver and weather proofing on Lois' favourite winter boots, my hat, all of my leather belts, a pair of my shoes and my video camera bag..... I wish that I had made and used this last year when I first thought about it.

In a few weeks time I will be using some of this to finish the matchstick covered pencil cases I have as current hobby work in progress, rather than the clear water-based varnish that I usually use; I am really looking forward to seeing the results.

Comments

rustyfox (author)2017-07-22

There's an old rule-of-thumb that says you should use vegetable oils on timber, mineral oils on metals, and animal oils (includes fats) on leather.

I'm not sure how much of a bad effect mineral or vegetable oils would have on leather, but as leather is usually quite expensive, I don't want to take the chance. Beeswax is fine. To soften it I'd be inclined to use pure neatsfoot oil - also animal based. The few drops of lavender or tea-tree oil wouldn't be a worry.

If you're looking at 'oilskin', which is usually cotton, I'd go for vegetable based oils.

Gareth0123 (author)rustyfox2017-07-22

Very true words there.

However, I have been using this particular jar of blended Olive oil and Beeswax for almost 5 years now (yes, still the original jar) on my hat, belts and gloves without any issues, and I have warmed it up annually to incorporate a little more of the Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils..

My hat gets done twice a year: once in the autumn ready for the onset of winter and also in the spring time after the rigours of winter. The gloves and belts get done on an ad-hoc basis and all of them are supple, waterproof and comfortable to wear.

annjfk made it! (author)2016-09-28

I made it but I substituted pretty much everything. Haha. I used vegetable oil (180 grams of corn oil) and some wax (90 grams of candle wax). I applied the paste to a synthetic raincoat I had as a test and I also applied it to an old umbrella. The cloth seemed to be slightly shiny and soft (the umbrella was dry to the touch, might be because I let it cure for a few days, while the coat had a slightly oily feel to it, it might go away or might not as I've only let it cure for about 24 hours) I personally quite like the effect and can't wait to test it out in the rain as it's typhoon season.

Ps: the wax was a mishmash of different candles and other waxes I had lying around.

Gareth0123 (author)annjfk2016-09-28

With candle/paraffin wax you would have been better off using standard mineral oil.

On my wax jacket it took over a week for my blend of wax & oil to soak into the fibres, but almost 5 years on it is still water proof

annjfk (author)Gareth01232016-09-28

And therein lies the beauty, it's simple and waterproof. I agree with the mineral oil bit(mineral oil won't go rancid unlike the vegetable oil I used), it's just that I didn't have some on hand and I really wanted to give the recipe a try. Haha. I'll be sure to try mineral oil and some pure paraffin next time. ??

matthewtweedie (author)2016-08-22

mind blowing

Davidecristiana (author)2016-04-24

good project

Mystic Mimic (author)2016-03-06

Would this work as a whip conditioner?

Gareth0123 (author)Mystic Mimic2016-04-23

Yes, it probably would. ..... it works extremelywell on my wife' collection whips, crops and other leatherware ;-)

NelleM (author)2016-04-23

Would this work on suede leather?

Gareth0123 (author)NelleM2016-04-23

I sorry but I don't think it would.

Maybe yo can try it for yourself on an unseen corner and let me know.

IlseR (author)2016-01-14

how to apply, do I use any tool?

Gareth0123 (author)IlseR2016-04-23

I use a yellow duster which no resides in the empty space in the jar, other tools are not required to apply this home-made leather preserver.

mrjonesmmcsd (author)IlseR2016-04-07

you can either smear it on like a paste with your hands and then heat with a blow dryer or a heat gun and watch it soak in or use a water bath the liquefy it and paint it on with a brush then use the heat gun. Either way it works great. I have used a similar mixture to waterproof a barn coat and an old Alice Pack that I take camping.

IlseR (author)2016-01-14

hello, I would like to waterproof my kids gloves. Even the most expensive ones get wet. I would live to use this natural way of doing this. Will it work?

Gareth0123 (author)IlseR2016-01-14

I am unsure about that type of material. However, I waxed a nice "going out" cotton jacket with this Bees wax & Olive oil preserver which has worked extremely.

I did an experiment on another cotton jacket with with a blend paraffin wax and mineral oil, and I have been wearing this general purpose/work jacket all winter so far in a wet & wind UK without any complaint.

There are no special tools required to apply the wax, just a cloth and a bit of effort, but standing the wax in a bowl of hot water to soften it does make life a lot an awful easier. So does blowing over the waxed garments with a warm hair drier to allow the wax to penetrate into the fibres, and it will then be beneficial to hang the garment for a few days in a warmish area before wearing it for the first time.

amastae (author)2015-12-05

I just made some! It's easy, cheap, and wonderful! For my first batch, I left out the essential oils. I just really love the smell of beeswax. But I did pour the mixture warm into an old pipe tobacco tin, and I have to say the smokey fragrance it came out with is fantastic. Can't wait to see how it handles the rain.
Thanks so much!

Zapee made it! (author)2015-04-11

I've just made it! Thank for the tutorial! I added some silicone spray one of these jar (just way of test). Sorry if my English is not too good!

Think_Design_Build (author)2015-02-25

I have to thank you for this awesome idea! I do some leather work and was looking for a natural finish and this is perfect. I love the waterproofing qualities, but is also great for a skin cream in the winter because it cuts down on frigid wind.

rcameron2 (author)2015-02-21

made it and its fab. thank you taking time to post this.


kingscoforge (author)2014-11-13

I made a similar batch about 3 yrs ago , used it on a leather hat that felt like dry cardboard.. after 3-4 applications the hat is revived and soft and flexible.

jamesbarr (author)2014-06-19

I didn't follow your recipe but made a salve with olive oil and beeswax in it. had some on my hands when I handled a ditty bag I made. I noticed that the residual salve left a beauty shine on the piece. I decided to apply it all over it. the wax sealed the thread holes while the olive oil made the leather soft and supple. great recipe!

zconde (author)2014-01-21

Wonderful recipe! I thought about using eucalyptus oil but wasn't sure if it was too potent, anyone have an idea if this would work?

bigmark (author)2012-12-07

What about a black leather jacket??? My coat is brand new,but I was just thinking about all the rain we've been getting & was wondering if it could even be waterproofed.....Great
job...I will try this on my boots soon...

Kiteman (author)2012-10-26

Home-made dubbin, excellent!

What does it do to the colour/shine of the leather?

Gareth0123 (author)Kiteman2012-10-26

it gives an nice semi-gloss to gloss shine, but not quite a high gloss, which is exactly what I wanted; my main need was to nourish and water proof my leather items rather than to polish them.

When applied to the leather it is almost colourless; so the original or natural colour of the leather is more or less maintained.

Kiteman (author)Gareth01232012-10-27

Excellent.

raggedrose (author)2012-10-26

I did something similar years ago. I used basically the same recipe, only with liquid lanolin instead of olive oil. I figured using something as close to the oils the animal had produced when it was alive was a good idea, and I use liquid lanolin to oil my leather drumhead so I always have it around. It worked quite well, though it darkened the leather considerably and there really is no shine any more. I used it on a pair of homemade period shoes. They're ten-plus years old now and are still in good shape.

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Bio: I live in the UK, and own a small business designing and building: Cargo Carrying Bicycles, Bike Trailers, Pedal Powered Utility Trucks & Vans, Pedal Racing ... More »
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