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Softening Is Not Enough
Leather is a skin, with fibers and pores, that requires proper natural lubrication and needs to breathe. Because it no longer has a body to provide proper natural oils, we must provide these oils for it. The key to extending the useful life of your leather is restoring it with proper oils. But  not all "natural" oils are proper for leather care. Unfortunately, many products claiming to be conditioners or preservatives are not. They contain harmful chemicals, mink oil, petroleum, pine tar, or alcohol to soften or waterproof leather. They soften by weakening or decomposing the fibers and they waterproof by sealing the pores. They're low priced but definitely not economical when you consider the damage done to fibers, stitching, and glues. Ironically, these "preservatives" actually shorten the useful life of your leather!

True preservatives are natural and may cost a little bit more, but they are your best protection. They last longer and do so much more to preserve and protect that they're actually the most economical way to treat your leather.

Let It Breathe
We wear leather because it breathes and we stay comfortable. Never seal it off unless absolutely necessary! When pores are sealed the leather cannot breathe and you'll sweat like wearing rubber. Sealed leather is uncomfortable, stinks, and body acids, bacteria, and salt rot it from the inside out. Try wrapping your arm in cellophane wrap for a few hours to get a better understanding of what "sealing" your leather goods does to them, or imagine painting pine pitch or tar on your skin and sealing off the pores in this fashion. You can repel water easily and longer, resist chemicals, stay comfortable, and extend the useful life of your leather without sealing the pores. Simply extend the tanning process by regularly restoring the leather with proper natural oils.

Dry Weather Ruins Leather
Leather is damaged more by dryness, loss of oils, then by water. It's true, water washes leather oils out fast and it causes it to dry out stiff and hard. But leather oils also dissipate every day when it's dry, even when it's not being used. Like your skin, it simply dries out. Wind, warm air (floorboard heaters), dust, chemicals, mud, and normal wear (flexing) increase the rate of oil loss. Dry fibers scuff easily, wear against each other, get brittle, and break prematurely causing cracks in your leather. Dry leather also cuts stitching and is prone to dry rot. SOLUTION: Do not let the fibers dry out, keep them lubed with proper oils. The frequency with which you must treat your leather depends on your usage, conditions, age, and type of leather. If it appears dry and is scuffing, it's past due. If it's going to get wet, oil it ahead of time.

Be Careful With Silicone
Water-based silicone can be sprayed on leather, as well as fabrics, for additional waterproofing. It will not harm it, but it will not preserve it. You still need to restore proper oils into the leather and then you can spray over it periodically. Be very careful to avoid silicones with warning labels, especially aerosols, that contain harmful chemicals as carriers. They're harmful to you, your environment, and your leather.

Helpful Hints
Paying attention to the following Leather Care Guidelines can pay off in longer lasting leather.

  • For maximum Leather Preservative protection on your boots, apply a second or third coat.

  • Melt  leather preservative for easier application and/or use a hair dryer after application for faster and better penetration.

  • Temperatures over 100F can harm your leather.

  • Occasionally rub  Leather Preservative on inside leather.

  • Remove mud before it draws the oils out.

  • It's better and easier to apply a liberal protective coat of  leather preservative prior to exposure, than trying to restore leather after it's damaged.

  • Old Firefighter's Trick: Set your boots in a plastic bag in the sun after a liberal application of Heavy Duty  Leather Preservative.

  • Oil leather before storing

 

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