Winter's here, protect your leather boots and gloves

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Winter's here, protect your leather boots and gloves

Postby Sunbeam » Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:31 am

I do outdoor work year 'round, and I depend on good leather work gloves.

I buy the Terra brand work gloves from Costco, plain cowhide leather gloves for summer, and Thinsulate/fleece lined deerskin gloves for winter. Either way they are around $10/pair, and are unbeatable value. Problem is, unprotected leather just wicks up water, slush, and salt, and gets wrecked quickly unless you take steps to protect it.

I've tried various spray-on leather protectors, oils, and other approaches, but I think I've found the trick. A home-made mixture of waxes and oils beats any commercial spray-can solution.

Some research pointed to a mixture of paraffin, beeswax, and oil. If You're weatherproofing something that doesn't flex much (like boots), you can use more wax in the mixture. If you're weatherproofing something that needs to stay supple and flexible like gloves, use less wax and more oil.

For my winter gloves, I decided to try a mixture of paraffin, beeswax, mineral oil, and coconut oil.
Paraffin? You can buy a pack of 100 tea-light candles at No Frills for $4.
Beeswax? You can buy a wax toilet bowl gasket from Home Hardware for $2. Pure Beeswax.
Mineral Oil? You can buy 500ml for $4-$5 at any drug store. or use baby oil.
Coconut oil? grab a jar at the supermarket, you don't need the premium "extra-virgin" type for this.

I took the wax pucks from 3 tea-light candles, just under 1/4 of a toilet bowl wax gasket, about 3 tablespoons each of mineral oil and coconut oil. I put it all in an aluminum mini-loafpan. I set the loafpan into a medium saucepan with about an inch of water in it, and put over low heat on the stove, double-boiler style. Heat it all slowly until all the wax pieces melt, and mix it all up.

Remove the loafpan, and let it cool. If you're in a hurry, drain the saucepan, put cold water in it, and set the loafpan back into cold water to cool.

When it's all cooled, the finished mixture should firm up, turn opaque, and have a texture much like cold butter.

Now, put on your gloves, dig out dollops of this wonderful mixture, and massage it into the leather. Repeat until you think the leather wont absorb any more.

Now, Here's the Trick: Get a blow-dryer (hair dryer) and apply heat to your gloves (you may want a partner to help, or clamp the darn thing between your knees) while massaging the wax/oil mixture into the leather. The heat will melt the wax component and help it permeate the leather. Add some more. Heat it some more. Massage it in some more. Repeat until you're really happy with how it's looking.

Bingo, water will bead off your fine leather. If you're not happy with the consistency of your mixture, just re-melt it and add more wax to make it stiffer, or more oil to make it softer.

Re-apply during the nasty weather season as soon as your leather shows any sign of absorbing water.

Cheers, enjoy and protect your leather outerwear!
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Re: Winter's here, protect your leather boots and gloves

Postby Sunbeam » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:35 am

Not a whole lot to add to this.

Waterproofing will eventually fail at stitched seams first, you'll want to re-apply.

1. If you're doing dirty/salty work and want to clean up gloves or boots before re-applying waterproofing, use lots of ethanol rubbing alcohol and a brush. You won't believe how well this works til you try it.

2. I mostly just use mineral oil and beeswax now, a bit less paraffin, you'll adjust the mixture a bit to suit your application.

3. The best time and effort-saver is this one: forget the hair dryer. Massage as much of this oil/wax mixture into your gloves as possible, with excess on the surface, and place then in your oven, pre-heated to 200 Degrees F. Leave for 15 minutes or so, remove them, let cool enough to don them, rub in some more, and repeat until you think you have them permeated. 200F is enough to melt and permeate the pores of the leather with the wax, but won't damage rubber, plastic, or synthetic components of your garment.

I tried some rubber-coated nylon , fleece-lined gloves this winter for a while. The waterproofed leather beats em, hands down.
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