Jump to content
lightingale

Leather Conditioner Recipe?

Recommended Posts

OP, I noticed you mentioned peanut oil in your brainstorming. With so many people allergic to peanuts, you may want to forego that one. Maybe I'm being overly paranoid, but maybe not.

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 10 oz of boiled linseed oil

Boiled linseed oil has chemical dryers in it (not what I'd want in a conditioner) and lead (not what I'd want against my skin or my pet's skin.) I have both boiled linseed oil and plain at home: plain for food-grade polishes and boiled for furniture. Boiled linseed oil is quite the concoction so don't think you can just replace boiled with regular.

I hear beeswax and linseed make an awesome "boot rub" leather conditioner. I just bought some beeswax and have spend an hour failing to find a recipe ;-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

35% Beeswax

5% Carnuba Wax

60% neatsfoot oil or virgin (to match the bees wax maybe) olive oil

May need to adjust the wax/oil ratio to get the desired consistency.

Carnuba wax available here: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/350521416091?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

Olive oil won't go rancid and was used by the Romans on leather a 1000 years ago. Samples of Roman leather have been found and are in great condition. A lot of the old time leather workers use it.

The Carnuba wax is the hardest known natural wax so will add some protection as well as shine (shines better than bees wax)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I get asked on UK horse forums how to make and care for veg tanned saddlery leather.

Firstly a bit about oiling and veg tanned leather.

NEATSFOOT OIL, is a popular choice to condition modern hides BUT although modern neatsfoot oil is still made from cattle-based products, it has a tendency to speed oxidation of the leather.


If mineral oil or other petroleum-based material is added, the product may be called "neatsfoot oil compound".

Some brands have also been shown to be adulterated with rapeseed oil, soya oil, and other oils.

The addition of mineral oils may lead to more rapid decay of non-synthetic stitching or speed breakdown of the leather itself

AVOID!

You won't always see the damage to the fibres of the hide with the naked eyes and think it's ok to use it but you get down to the cellular level and look at the fibres under a microscope of hide oiled with neatsfoot and you'll see what I mean.



LEATHER CONDITIONER:

All veg tanned leather will lose moisture whether it's used or not, best thing to condition leather to make it last is any product without any silicone or preservatives (that some modern leather conditioners contain) includes, tallow, bees wax and lanolin or all 3 if possible.

I make my own leather conditioner simply because I use so much veg tan in my trade, I have hides that I have hand dressed that are at least 25 years old when I first trained and are as good as new.


Home made leather conditioner (traditional) recipe:

My own recipe is a secret one I have perfected over many years but what I will give you a basic one, get hold of any beef fat (I make my own tallow but you can use beef dripping), beeswax and some lard (pig fat, again I make my own), do roughly a 50% beef fat, 25 % beeswax and 25% lard,gently melt it down on a low heat and mix it thoroughly.

Let it set, when you use it if it has melted because the weather is warm, shove it in the fridge for 10-20 mins to get the right consistency.

This is real old fashioned English Saddler's grease




BEST WAY OF USING IT:

Remember any moisture you add to leather whether water or leather conditioner can darken leather down, so if in doubt try a test area first.

When conditioning the clean leather, wipe it with a warm wet cloth (just warm water) and whilst still wet/damp get some conditioner on your fingers, the heat from your hand and your fingers are by far the best way to apply any conditioner, it's a mucky job but forget sponges, cloths or brushes at this stage!

By putting the water on first it acts as a medium that aids the penetration of the fats right into the fibres of the hide.

The flesh side of the hide is far more porous than the grain side,try to imagine a funnel shape to the fibre with the wide open mouth end as the flesh side (flesh side is the underside where the flesh used to be) so allow a little more conditioner that side, you don't need alot anyway as it goes a long way.

Rub it all over and massage it into the hide, then leave it to dry naturally in a dry room and not in any sunlight or near artifcial heat,it can take 3 days or more to dry out and be asorbed into the hide, depends how much you use!

When it's dry, then get a lint free cloth, I use old bath towels cut up, the bobbly bits of the towelling act like a polishing stone and this is where it gets hard work, you need alot of elbow grease.

It's basically good old fashioned saddlers grease which most saddlers, leatherworkers and cobblers would have made years ago and none of the commercially made rubbish you get today.

The idea is to rub the hide fast and fairly hard, not too hard to scratch it, the friction heats up any fats you have left on the hide (the white stuff) and gets it further into the fibres to add to the already asorbed conditioner that you put on it a few days before.

Lastly, this where it looks like I am contradicting myself about saying not to use oil on hides but I do, I use cod liver oil (NEVER neatsfoot as explained at the beginning)and wring a cotton cloth out in the cod liver oil so almost dry and put a very LIGHT film on both sides of the hide,wipe off any surplus and give it another gentle polish to buff it up with a bit of clean, dry bath towel, you are merely giving it a final dressing with the cod liver oil NOT conditioning or feeding it, it also gives the hide back it's leathery smell, a good trick of the trade to know if you sell second hand saddlery or leather, people love the smell of leather!

When completed you should have hide that is fairly stuffed full of fat and wax which is what it was designed for and it will have a nice bloom/shine to it, it should feel slightly moist/clammy but not sticky, if it is sticky you need to rub it more, it should feel heavier too.The conditioning will act as a rain barrier to keep the wet out.

Sorry for long post but I think it's worth mentioning all this.

Happy polishing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

where's a good place to purchase the bee's wax ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get asked on UK horse forums how to make and care for veg tanned saddlery leather.

Firstly a bit about oiling and veg tanned leather

...

This is extremely informative, thanks!

Since I started this thread over a year ago, I've been including a small 10ml container of leather conditioner (my own recipe) with every belt/dog collar I ship out, and I've also been using it on my own leather items without issue. With balancing the wax and the oil, it's just a matter of proportions to get the right consistency.

Ultimately, the ingredients I settled on were Neatsfoot oil, lanolin, virgin beeswax, and a few drops of vitamin E oil (I have a background in biology and nutrition and vit E is often used to help slow fat oxidation in food products).

Your post is the first I've heard that neatsfoot is anything but the "Best Thing Ever" for leather.

NEATSFOOT OIL, is a popular choice to condition modern hides BUT although modern neatsfoot oil is still made from cattle-based products, it has a tendency to speed oxidation of the leather.

My understanding is that neatsfoot oil is derived from the legs of swine, the fat therefrom being special in that is has a very low melting point (rendering it liquid at room temperature). The general consensus from some googling is that animal fats are less oxidative than vegetable fats (although no one seems to know why). Can you explain/source how or why Neatsfoot might speed the oxidation of the oils in leather? It's not that I don't believe you, but the chemist/biologist in me is very curious!

Do you believe mineral oil would be a better alternative to Neatsfoot? For my conditioner formula, I need an ingredient that has a liquid consistency at room temperature to help balance out the solidity of beeswax and lanolin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, yes certainly, neatsfoot traditionally is made from a bovine source not swine. the shin bones and the feet (not the hooves).

Most Saddlers here in thev UK but not all, will tell you neatsfoot oil these days is not good for modern hides, our collective experience tells use this. Neatsfoot oil itself will oxidise over time which in turns helps the decay of the leather by drying it out.

No, I don't believe mineral oil would be a good alternative,but that's my own opinion and not necessarily the same as other saddlers, if you have to use any oil in your product use a small amount of cod liver oil.From what I know of mineral oil it is liquid petroleum, would you rub this in to your own skin?

I find any product that I make I test on my own hands, if they end up feeling soft and comfortable then all is well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

where's a good place to purchase the bee's wax ?

I have a friend with bee hives, pay £10 for about 25lbs, contact your local bee keeping club, see if they can help

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/12/2014 at 3:06 PM, unicornleather said:
I get asked on UK horse forums how to make and care for veg tanned saddlery leather.

 

Firstly a bit about oiling and veg tanned leather.

 

 

NEATSFOOT OIL, is a popular choice to condition modern hides BUT although modern neatsfoot oil is still made from cattle-based products, it has a tendency to speed oxidation of the leather.

 

 

 
If mineral oil or other petroleum-based material is added, the product may be called "neatsfoot oil compound".
 
Some brands have also been shown to be adulterated with rapeseed oil, soya oil, and other oils.
 
The addition of mineral oils may lead to more rapid decay of non-synthetic stitching or speed breakdown of the leather itself
 
AVOID!
 
You won't always see the damage to the fibres of the hide with the naked eyes and think it's ok to use it but you get down to the cellular level and look at the fibres under a microscope of hide oiled with neatsfoot and you'll see what I mean.

 

 

 

 

 

LEATHER CONDITIONER:

 

 

All veg tanned leather will lose moisture whether it's used or not, best thing to condition leather to make it last is any product without any silicone or preservatives (that some modern leather conditioners contain) includes, tallow, bees wax and lanolin or all 3 if possible.

 

 

I make my own leather conditioner simply because I use so much veg tan in my trade, I have hides that I have hand dressed that are at least 25 years old when I first trained and are as good as new.

 

 

 

 

 

Home made leather conditioner (traditional) recipe:

 

 

My own recipe is a secret one I have perfected over many years but what I will give you a basic one, get hold of any beef fat (I make my own tallow but you can use beef dripping), beeswax and some lard (pig fat, again I make my own), do roughly a 50% beef fat, 25 % beeswax and 25% lard,gently melt it down on a low heat and mix it thoroughly.

 

 

Let it set, when you use it if it has melted because the weather is warm, shove it in the fridge for 10-20 mins to get the right consistency.

 

 

This is real old fashioned English Saddler's grease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST WAY OF USING IT:

 

 

Remember any moisture you add to leather whether water or leather conditioner can darken leather down, so if in doubt try a test area first.

 

 

When conditioning the clean leather, wipe it with a warm wet cloth (just warm water) and whilst still wet/damp get some conditioner on your fingers, the heat from your hand and your fingers are by far the best way to apply any conditioner, it's a mucky job but forget sponges, cloths or brushes at this stage!

 

 

By putting the water on first it acts as a medium that aids the penetration of the fats right into the fibres of the hide.

 

 

The flesh side of the hide is far more porous than the grain side,try to imagine a funnel shape to the fibre with the wide open mouth end as the flesh side (flesh side is the underside where the flesh used to be) so allow a little more conditioner that side, you don't need alot anyway as it goes a long way.

 

 

Rub it all over and massage it into the hide, then leave it to dry naturally in a dry room and not in any sunlight or near artifcial heat,it can take 3 days or more to dry out and be asorbed into the hide, depends how much you use!

 

 

When it's dry, then get a lint free cloth, I use old bath towels cut up, the bobbly bits of the towelling act like a polishing stone and this is where it gets hard work, you need alot of elbow grease.

 

 

It's basically good old fashioned saddlers grease which most saddlers, leatherworkers and cobblers would have made years ago and none of the commercially made rubbish you get today.

 

 

The idea is to rub the hide fast and fairly hard, not too hard to scratch it, the friction heats up any fats you have left on the hide (the white stuff) and gets it further into the fibres to add to the already asorbed conditioner that you put on it a few days before.

 

 

Lastly, this where it looks like I am contradicting myself about saying not to use oil on hides but I do, I use cod liver oil (NEVER neatsfoot as explained at the beginning)and wring a cotton cloth out in the cod liver oil so almost dry and put a very LIGHT film on both sides of the hide,wipe off any surplus and give it another gentle polish to buff it up with a bit of clean, dry bath towel, you are merely giving it a final dressing with the cod liver oil NOT conditioning or feeding it, it also gives the hide back it's leathery smell, a good trick of the trade to know if you sell second hand saddlery or leather, people love the smell of leather!

 

 

When completed you should have hide that is fairly stuffed full of fat and wax which is what it was designed for and it will have a nice bloom/shine to it, it should feel slightly moist/clammy but not sticky, if it is sticky you need to rub it more, it should feel heavier too.The conditioning will act as a rain barrier to keep the wet out.

 

 

Sorry for long post but I think it's worth mentioning all this.

 

 

Happy polishing!

So, (seriously) next time I'm frying off some mince can I pour off the fat and mix it with some lard and beeswax to make a test sample of this mixture? Also could I use it on natural untreated veg tan leather?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago, in my late teens, I spent a few months working in a tannery doing various odd jobs. One of my tasks was to make up batches of dubbin, this was rubbed deeply into the veg tanned sides with stout brushes, buffed to a shine and then sold as "harness leather".

Unfortunately at the time my mind was focused on girls not leather, looking back I wish I had taken more interest in the job itself. From what I do remember the dubbin was mixed up in a 44 gallon drum - equal quantities by weight of two waxes were added to the drum, beeswax being the one, and carnauba or paraffin wax the other (I can't recall which) and then whale oil measured by the bucket. I don't remember the exact ratios but I think that was about an equal quantity of oil to wax. A high pressure steam wand was placed into the drum, the steam valve opened, and after a few minutes the action of the steam would melt the wax while at the same time thoroughly mixing the ingredients which once cooled had the consistency of Vaseline.

Needless to say whale oil is no longer obtainable, Now days this would have to be substituted by something else. I would have thought that something like neatsfoot oil would be a possibility but not if it is as detrimental to leather as unicornleather says, so perhaps then cod liver or even olive oil could be suitable?
Clive

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/26/2013 at 4:41 PM, lightingale said:

<<<snip>>>a small container (like a lip balm container) of homemade leather conditioner with each purchase.<<<snip>>>

I do the same thing and fill the lib balm containers with Skidmore's Beeswax Waterproofing  (http://www.skidmores.com/products.asp?cat=14) I buy it in bulk.

There is an article in the RawHide Gazette (http://pslac.org/public/08_aug16.pdf) on page 10 that shows the process and give ordering information for lip balm filling materials.

Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bit of a necro here but this is a great thread and I have been trying different combinations out over the past 8 months and am close to what I think is a really good combination, I am not providing ratios as it will be a product that I sell at some point.

 

1. ) Birch tar oil: Penetrates deeply offering very good repelling of water, increases leather durability, highly resistant to salt water damage. Makes the leather highly resistant mold, fungus, and repels bugs and insects. Due to it being little known as far as I know nobody has done any tests on it for iv value but oxidative stability seems pretty good from what I have seen using it. I am sending a sample out to have its iv value tested and will also be checking its PH.

2.) d-Limonene (Citrus Terpenes): A natural solvent, it is volatile and evaporates from the leather after 1-2 days. It does not damage the leather or dry it while it is present in my testing. Makes for easier application and also cleans the leather. PH of d-Limonene is 3.5.

3.) Coconut Oil: The highest iv value of both vegetable and animal oils which translates to oxidative stability, also provides resistance against mold and fungus. I have managed to get this and birch tar oil to play nicely together, took awhile though!

4.) A little beeswax is also added to the mixture, I think we all know the benefits it can give.

 

This mixture does not go rancid and in testing looks to be more stable then animal based products such as minks oil or neatsfoot. The only unknown is the Birch tar oil as far as iv and PH, things I will know very soon! This conditioner mix is easy to apply, penetrates very deep and gives very close to 100% waterproof. It does impart a pleasant but strong smoky smell, something the russia leather was well known for, it also darkens leather quite a bit.

 

For those of you thinking of using linseed oil as mentioned it has dryers added (boiled) and linseed oil has bad oxidative stability (135-180), not something I would put on leather.

Edited by Otzi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Otzi, thank you for sharing.  There is some great information in this thread.  One thing I found iny research was something called British Museum Leather Dressing.  Wikipedia has a good entry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/27/2020 at 9:10 PM, johnv474 said:

Otzi, thank you for sharing.  There is some great information in this thread.  One thing I found iny research was something called British Museum Leather Dressing.  Wikipedia has a good entry.

 

Thanks for that info, I had heard about it before but never had read up on it. Apparently that dressing is no longer recommended or suggested by the national library of the netherlands.

https://www.kb.nl/en/organisation/research-expertise/preservation/guidelines-for-the-conservation-of-leather-and-parchment-bookbindings

 

I am in the process of translating the article linked to from there that is only in Dutch and it makes for a very interesting read! They bring into question the solvents and from what I can see for good reason, both X4 and hexane have very fast evaporation rates both of them substantially faster then acetone. 

 

I'll post the translated article here when done, maybe some of you will find it interesting.

 

Something I forgot to mention above is I am increasing the oxidative stability of the birch tar oil. I have sent samples out to a lab to have the iodine value tested as well, it will be interesting to see just how much it changes with the mix of natural antioxidants I have added!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An old falconry recipe for treating jesses (leg straps) and leashes (when we used leather)

1oz beeswax

2.5 oz white wax - good quality candles

5oz liquid paraffin

Melt together over lowish heat.

I have used this for years and applied with fingers it softens and gets absorbed.

Jesses have a fairly short life, months rather than years. They are subject to regular wetting, blood from food and other detritus. 

I can't say if it has any long term effect on the leather.

I thought it was surprising nobody had mentioned liquid paraffin as an ingredient. Any thoughts?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/13/2016 at 11:25 AM, stelmackr said:

I do the same thing and fill the lib balm containers with Skidmore's Beeswax Waterproofing  (http://www.skidmores.com/products.asp?cat=14) I buy it in bulk.

There is an article in the RawHide Gazette (http://pslac.org/public/08_aug16.pdf) on page 10 that shows the process and give ordering information for lip balm filling materials.

Hope this helps.

They removed the article.  Here is another way to see it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uQESGNKM0U2c5R9W_4rC_BvMq4rl0E8m/view?usp=sharing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...