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Having spent a good deal of time researching and reading forums, to include this one, I have found that there are plenty of threads on making leather conditioners , but not many actual recipes. People act like it's a secret or are elusive in what ingredients and ratios they use.  It's not a secret, I never understood why people act like its some kind of proprietary info on how they make  conditioner. It's not like most/any of them are trying to sell it to make a living or anything. Plus its not rocket science. If one looks at most commercial products Material Safety Data Sheets ( MSDS), you can find out what the ingredients are and sometimes even the % of each. A little bit of tinkering and one can figure out what the ratios are.

So I've decided to post up an actual recipe for making your own all natural leather conditioner. I also use this for a sealer/finish after dyeing with good success, although it takes more time and hand rubbing/buffing than say applying resolene, etc. 

The intent is to make an all natural product, using all natural and 100% organic ingredients. I intentionally avoided things like Mineral oil, cheap oils, lards/tallows and other petroleum products found in some commercial products used for leather conditioning. I also avoided using things like kerosene, turpentine or other similar products often mentioned in threads like these, that are used for their solvent properties and ability to penetrate leather.

Having looked at ingredients used back as far as the 1800's, it is clear some of those ingredients were used out of necessity and or availability and really aren't that great for leather pH  or otherwise in conditioning, but are still held onto and used by some. Likewise, I've seen mention about the concern of rancidity when using some vegetable and or animal products. While I do not doubt that things can go rancid given the right circumstances, I have yet to see anyone actually have this issue, it's always been someones sisters brothers cousin twice removed or a case of gross over saturation. Same goes with attracting of vermin/animals. There just isn't anything concrete to factually point to it as a big enough concern and reason to avoid using any of those ingredients. I chalk the rancidity concern up to an old wives/urban myth that keeps getting repeated in forums like these (I'm sure this last sentence will no doubt bring out someone who claims otherwise, it is the internet after all.).     

So like any kind of recipe, it is a baseline to start from. You may have to adjust some of the ratios of the ingredients you use from this recipe, as your ingredients might be slightly different from mine and your results different. So if it's too tacky, too hard, too soft, to your liking, you will have to make small adjustments. Likewise, the recipe below is an example of ingredients that can be used. There are many others that are still all natural that can be used in lieu of and or added to the mixture( coconut oil, castor oil, Cod fish oil, jojoba, shea butter, etc). I give an example of that in the recipe below with the addition of two additional ingredients. While some may or may not consider it "natural", neatsfoot oil could also be added to the recipe below if you wanted to add that.Just remember that with neatsfoot oil, less is more. As an example Lexol only uses 5-10% neatsfoot oil and 80% is water and other ingredients in its leather conditioner per their MSDS sheet on their website ( Yes, Lexol IS neatsfoot oil, just like soylent green is people. A shocker , I know) If you have a favorite commercial product, do a duck duck go search on it using "MSDS" or "SDS" to pull up the data sheet on it, and you'll likely find out what ingredients are used in it, that you can replicate yourself or use in your product.

 

Here is something to keep in mind while doing this though. The more oil(s) you add to the mix, the softer the final product will be unless you increase the ratio of the other materials like beeswax and Carnauba wax  that help to firm the final product up. So if your batch isn't coming out like you want it, you know where to look at correcting it. Likewise, do a small test batch/run of a given ratio (write this down as you're doing it) if you haven't done it before, so you're not over committing to a final product that you aren't happy with. Once you arrive at the right ratios for the small batch that make you happy, increase them proportionality as needed for larger batches.

 

 Basically, if you can make ramen noodles on the stove, you can make your own Leather conditioner in about an hour and in as large a quantity as you want for slightly more than you'd pay for a store bought 4 oz tin.($20) of leather conditioner


 

The ingredients are simple( most/all are for sale on Amazon or locally in stores):


 

100% organic coca butter- about $15 a pound 

100% organic Beeswax- about $14 a pound

100% pure sweet almond oil (or similar non greasy scented oil)- 16oz $8 ( this will make approx 8 batches of 4 ozs tins) 


 

Total investment cost: $38-45 if you allow for taxes, shipping, etc


 

Now, the recipe :


 

It’s a simple recipe, mix the three ingredients at a ratio of 1:1:2 (beeswax, cocoa butter, and liquid oil) , this ratio gives the balm a slightly softer texture as opposed to being a very solid bar. This is still a balm, though; if you want more of a cream, use a 1:1:3 ratio. If you add the two optional ingredients you are adding more conditioner( lanolin) and a hardener (Carnauba wax) that result in a more solid final product. The ratio with the other two ingredients would be: 1:1:2: .5: .25  You can increase the Lanolin from .5 to 1 if you choose but it does increase the overall cost. If you need a harder product, increase the carnauba wax, as too much beeswax can result in a tacky feel to the product.


 

Homemade Leather Balm

25g | 0.88oz beeswax

25g | 0.88oz cocoa butter

50g | 1.76oz sweet almond oil (or other not-too-greasy liquid oil)

*2 teaspoons of Anhydrous Lanolin

*1 teaspoon of T1grade organic Carnauba wax 

*Optional Ingredients that can be added to this recipe but it will increase the overall price for the materials*


 

Melt everything together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour into a 125mL/4oz mason jar and let cool until solid, 20–30 minutes. 


 

Obviously you can make this in larger quantities by increasing the recipe above and make several 4 oz jars at once, or a few larger ones. Either way, for a few dollars more than store bought and a little bit of time, you can make your own leather conditioner in larger quantities for a lot less. 


 

* Disclaimer* My math might be a tad off, I did this in my head as I was typing so the total batches you get for your initial investment in materials may be less or more than the 8 batches I mentioned above.

 

Here are a few details and amplifying information on how to do this.


 

Actual investment in items ( all products shown and the jars) worked out to be $63 when all was said and done


 

As you can see, my initial estimate of 8 batches of 4 ozs. was off. All said and done, using all the shown products at one time resulted in a total of 19ea at 4 ozs ( the larger mason jars are 8 ozs each) for a total of 76 ozs of leather balm.


 

Breakdown of price per 4 oz works out to $4.80 total


 

Total time from start to finish: 30mins


 

The process:


 

1ea large metal pot

1ea wooden spoon to stir

1ea laddle

1ea Funnel


 

Like I said earlier, if you can make Ramen, you can do this.It's caveman easy.


 

So, this is how it went and the pictures will give you an idea of what to expect if I can get them to load on this forum.


 

Step 1: Pot on the stove, low heat. Drop entire 1lb block of coca butter into the pot and let melt, stirring/moving it around. It melts like a stick of normal butter would melt. Just be sure to keep the heat low, so you don't burn it. After a 2-3 minutes it is all liquid.


 

Step 2: Add in the Beeswax. The beeswax melts slower than the coca butter so it was poured in a 1/3 of the bag at a time and constantly stirred and broken up before adding more. This was done until the entire bag had been poured into the pot and it was all liquified. Stirring it the whole time and monitoring the heat is important , as you might have to turn the heat up a tad to get the beeswax to melt quicker, but you want to be careful not to burn it. If your beeswax is a solid bar, grate it up and or Chunk it up in small pieces so it melts faster.


 

Step 3: Once it was all liquid and mixed together, the pot was removed from the flame/burner. Both bottles of almond oil were poured into the pot and stirred into the mix. At this point, everything is hot liquid, so you have to move fairly quick, as it will begin to set up. We had the 4ozs jars all set up and ready to go before hand so we lost no time going from the stove into the jars. 


 

Step 4: Using a laddle, the liquid was poured into a funnel to aid in filing the jars. If you use tins or another container, you may be able to pour it direct, but to reduce mess and loss, the funnel worked best. The liquid starts to cool pretty quick, so have everything prepped and on hand before you get to this stage. Once you've poured it in to all of your containers, allow it to cool and harden up.


 

Step 5: Clean up of pot and funnel,laddle. Do that right after finishing, as it will be semi hardened but hot tap water and some soap and it comes right off.


 

Step 6: Sniff your fingers/hands. As it cools down, this stuff smells pretty awesome and feels great on your skin. Don't be surprised if your woman makes off with a few jars of this stuff for herself. As long as you haven't put any petroleum products or other harsh chemicals in the mix, you can use this on your own skin safely.


 

 

 

 

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Edited by ScottWolf

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2nd version of the recipe with Lanolin and carnauba wax in tins.

web size IMG_8729-2.JPG

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Nice! Thanks

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11 hours ago, kiwican said:

Nice! Thanks

No problem. Happy to share the knowledge with others and maybe persuade others to share their recipes more openly. 

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have you tested this for any length of time?

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1 hour ago, chuck123wapati said:

have you tested this for any length of time?

I've been using this recipe and variations of it for well over a year. No issues with it to date. I'm not really surprised, as this and some of the variations of ingredients mentioned are the exact same ingredients used/found in various commercially available products per their MSDS. The only exception is that in some cases, the commercial versions also use cheap oils/mineral oils, etc, that I choose to leave out.

I'm currently testing out a variation of the above with the addition of D-Limonese added. It is an all natural solvent/terpene derived from citrus/oranges. While it acts as a typical solvent/penetrator, it has no negative health concerns and is even sold as a dietary supplement and can be ingested. As is to be expected, it does have a slight natural orange smell to the final product that is pleasant but not overpowering. 

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I have used a variation similar to this for quite a while. I usually add a couple of drops of Citronella essential oil as it is said to have anti-sceptic properties. And it makes the  conditioner smell nice!

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only good, natural, traditional products, I validate. Thanks for shearing.

Edited by paloma

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Well done, will be giving it a go. Thank you.

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Ok, I’ll ask the dumb question since I’ve never used anything solid like this: how do you apply it? Does it have to be reheated to apply?

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2 hours ago, Retswerb said:

Ok, I’ll ask the dumb question since I’ve never used anything solid like this: how do you apply it? Does it have to be reheated to apply?

Nope. Like shoe polish rub on and rub in.

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5 hours ago, Retswerb said:

Ok, I’ll ask the dumb question since I’ve never used anything solid like this: how do you apply it? Does it have to be reheated to apply?

If you make it as a balm, you can scoop it out with your fingers and rub it into the leather by hand. If you make it harder, like a shoe polish, you can use a rag to apply it and rub it in. The heat from you hand and or the friction of the rag will warm it up as you are applying it.

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Thank you for sharing this, ScottWolf.  I am happy that others see the value of freely-sharing information.

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So I made this leather balm yesterday out of Curiosity and a lot necessity. 
I have to say so far is looking Good. It is giving my leather a pull up quality, which I love. 

5B2E3549-1C23-47C8-A0C2-1D7ED5A5C7A0.jpeg

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3 hours ago, Mel99 said:

So I made this leather balm yesterday out of Curiosity and a lot necessity. 
I have to say so far is looking Good. It is giving my leather a pull up quality, which I love. 

5B2E3549-1C23-47C8-A0C2-1D7ED5A5C7A0.jpeg

Glad to hear that you gave it a go and it's working out for you. :)

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