Recover Shoe Polish




Do you polish your shoes nice and regularly? Good for you. I don't. And I have a tin or two of shoe polish that have been around for years (decades actually) that now look like a barren drought ridden field. And that prevents you from getting polish on the shoe brush, because you just end up chasing the chunks round the tin.

So, I decided to revitalize it to bring it back to life.

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Step 1: Melt in Hot Water

There are two important things to know about shoe polish;

1. It is flammable
2. Flammable means it will burn

According to wikipedia, it can contain naphtha, lanolin, turpentine, wax and, ethylene glycol. It's not quite TNT, but you don't want to set a flame to it. It'll burn like a spirit burner, but less controlled, and it will ruin your shoe polish, make nasty black marks on your ceiling, and it's not too good to inhale either. So, DO NOT MELT WITH A DIRECT FLAME.

However, we do need to heat it up to get it back in to shape. The best way to do that is to get a baking tray of water, and put it on your stove.  Put your tin of shoe polish in the baking tray of water, but don't position it in line above the burner. You want the heat to be indirect. Heat the water up, but not to boiling - about 80C or 175F. You'll know when it is hot enough, because the polish will start to melt.

If you over heat, it can get a bit smelly. That's not a good sign. The idea is to polish your shoes, not your lungs. So just in case, open a window / turn on the extractor fan / do this outside over a camping stove. 

If you have more than one tin, you can feed all of the remains in to one batch to make a new whole tin. You can even mix colours if you want to try and produce your own funky shade of brown. I was using natural show polish here though as it shows up better in the photos, and it works well on my grey boots.

Step 2: Cool

Once it has all melted (or mostly melted if you are impatient), just turn off the heat. Let it cool down without touching it. When the water and the show polish are cold, tip out the water and hey presto - you have a new tin of shoe polish. Then polish your shoes and think smugly of the modest amount of money you have saved.



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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    My grandfather was ex-army. When he polished his shoes he used matches to actually light the polish when it was aflame he put the lid back on and that doused it. Then he used the now liquid polish to add the extra shine to his shoes. This was usually done outside, so although not recommended you can light the polish.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 months ago

    Not to miss your grandfather, but this is a terrible Idea, as it will ruin the shoes and you will never be able to polish them normally again, although they will have a nice shine to them.


    Reply 1 year ago

    That's a great idea. I've got to try that.


    6 months ago on Introduction

    You ROCK! I asked for my fathers shoe shine kit when he passed away. I have such fond memories & this revitalized my multi decades of wax polish from Dad. THANK YOU!!!!!


    Question 6 months ago

    Could you use a hair dryer and hold the dryer on low above/below the polish?


    2 years ago

    OMG!!! That is something my husband would do, how funny!! SO glad it wasn't him, but I love the story.
    I will stop looking and try this way, outside!
    THanks for the instructions!


    7 years ago on Introduction


    I had an old tan shoe polish tin that was all cracked and dessicated. In a fit of OCD I put the tin on the gas stove, making it straddle two of the grate's tines. The flames were set to the lowest they would go and I thought that everything was good with the world that day. Soon, I decided that that was enough meltage and reached for the stove's dial to shut off the fire. My movement must have disturbed the air because at that moment the fumes around the melted wax burst into a glorious flame, missing my nose and chest hair by...well, a hair. In my haste to put out the flames, I dumped the molten wax all over the stove, and emptied the wax tin of its contents. Long story short, even after a thorough cleaning of all the stove's surfaces, nooks and crannies lighting the stove produced the smell of shoe polish for quite some time.

    Good news everyone!: Fumes have subsided. My wife is finally speaking to me again, and she has a clean, gleaming, shiny, polished stove.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    A tad late for this post, but I love this story. Hilarious! Good example not to set it a flame bc some sarcastic fools are actually recommending that method elsewhere... thanks for the laugh