Home-made Leather Preserver and Waterproofing





Introduction: Home-made Leather Preserver and Waterproofing

About: 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 Cars and Human Powered Vehicles, lightweight Pony ...

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:

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:

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:

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.

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Hello! I just bought a real leather ottoman and the edges are a little worn. It looks as though the shiny finish on the leather has been worn with normal wear and tear. Can i use this to condition and protect my ottoman??

I would have liked to have seen before, progress, and after pictures of the hat, boots, belts, etc...

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.

1 reply

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.

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

I sorry but I don't think it would.

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

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.

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.

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?

1 reply

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.

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!

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.

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

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.

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!

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?