Home-made Leather Preserver and Waterproofing

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Introduction: 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:

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.

3 People Made This Project!

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25 Comments

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.

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.

Would this work as a whip conditioner?

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

Would this work on suede leather?

I sorry but I don't think it would.

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

how to apply, do I use any tool?