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Testing The Darkening Effects Of Leather Conditioners

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I recently tested the darkening effects of several leather conditioners and wanted to share my results with you. In the photo below the top and bottom rows are natural colored leather. The second row from the top (box stamped) is five coats of(left to right): Bick 4, Lexol, Lexol NF, and Wesson (vegetable) oil. The third row (basketweave) is ten coats each of Bick 4, Lexol, and Lexol Nf. I couldn't see the point in continuing with Wesson oil. These were all very heavy coats to speed the darkening process. Probably 2-3 times as heavy as most people would use for routine conditioning. All the leather is from the same double shoulder. The box stamped are from within a few inches of each other. The basketweave are from within a few inches of each other, but a different part from the box stamped peices.


Bick 4 claims to be non darkening and it really is. However it leaves some buildup on the surface. It buffs out well. It also makes a set of reins feel real good.

Lexol and Lexol Nf darkened about the same.

Lexol Nf claims to be formulated for light colored leather. It also claims to be non greasy. Compared to Neatsfoot oil this is probably true, but compared to regular Lexol iIt darkens slightly more and is greasier. I really wanted to like it and ordered a liter just so I could try it.

Wesson Oil is the plain old vegetable oil from the Kitchen. I didn't have any Olive oil or neatsfoot oil handy or I would have tested them instead.

I can't tell much difference in feel between the Lexols and Wesson oil. All seem to work fine as conditioners.

The reason for the test is a new saddle I bought last fall. It isn't real light, but is has that nice reddish brown color and I want it to stay that way for a long time. I used some Lexol on it at first because it was pretty dry but wanted something better long term. My usual method of soaping and oiling with olive oil will darken one up over several years. As a result of the test I bought a Gallon of Bick 4 at one of the local saddle shops. It is the clear winner.

I hope ya'll get some useable information from this.



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