Welcome to our second installment of our leather care blog!
Leather care products are widely available in a variety of stores and websites. The first step is to become an informed consumer about the products you buy. When caring for higher quality leather you want to make sure you are buying the best type of care products for that leather.
The next thing you need to know is that not all leather is the same and not all leather care products are universal. Veg tan leather should be treated differently than chromium tanned hides. Aniline dyed floater has exposed pores and requires conditioners that do not clog those pores. When choosing care products, be sure to read labels to understand the differences between products and their composition materials.
You will need three types of materials: Cleaner, Conditioner and Weather-proofer. You can also get a color revitalizer to restore the depth of the color.
You always want to use the least abrasive cleaners as possible. If you are on a farm or moving through dirtier conditions you may want to use saddle soap which can be a bit more of an abrasive cleaner. For normal use we recommend a plant based cleaner that use natural enzymes to clean the leather and remove biological elements that may be harmful. If it’s just a bit dusty, you may just wipe them down with a damp cloth or a non-alcoholic wipe.
Keep your leather clean, it will make them look and feel better.
Leather conditioner is a critical key to the long term maintenance of a quality hide. Liquid conditioning oils offer deeper penetrating formulas that will get into the pores of the leather and offer a superior level of moisturizing. In oils, you want to focus on natural contents and waxes. Mink Oil, Seed Oil, or any other type of natural conditioner. Stay away from synthetic conconditioning materials.
Conditioners all need some sort of bonding agent or wax. Better quality conditioners will use Bees Wax or Carnauba. Lesser products will use paraffin or lanoline (these are a bit too thick for an aniline finish). Do not use products using synthetic bonding agents on our leathers. Save it for belts and pouches.
DO NOT USE SHOE POLISH!
Shoe polish is like a leather paint. It will cover the leather and coat it with layer that will reduce the leather’s ability to breathe.
If you want to recondition the color of the leather, use a conditioner that has a dye element to it. Dye will penetrate into the hide and recolor it. (Be careful using this type of paste as it is color specific – i.e. Don’t get black dye cream on your tan leather). This will allow the leather to absorb another layer of dye without covering the pores on the hide.
DO NOT USE SHOE POLISH! It really bears repeating for you skimmers!
There are many weatherproof creams for leather that use a variety of sealers. Pastes are inherently heartier than liquid conditioners. They last longer on the leather and hold up to poorer weather. Similar to cleaners, you always want to use the least aggressive sealer as is necessary and weatherproofing use should depend on the circumstances. Most conditioners will have a sealant mixed into the composition and so your conditioning process is often also a weatherproofing process. A better sealer will use a natural resin which is air permeable and water repellent. In normal and even rainy conditions, a natural resin will protect the leather. Propolis is natural resin that is found in tree sap and other plants and is used as an air permeable natural water repellent.
Natural resins are more expensive, but allow the leather to breathe even in rain and poor conditions. Leather needs to breathe and be well ventilated to allow for the transfer of moisture away from the body.
Poorer quality sealers will use silicon. Silicon is not air permeable at all, it is a rubber coating and should only be used on leather in the most extreme conditions. It will not allow leather to breathe – It will keep water out, but it will also trap moisture inside its layer which can mold and rot a natural hide over time. Silicon should be absolutely avoided if possible and should only be used in very severe and continuous wet weather conditions.
In the end…
There are many care products on the market and the key to making wise decisions it to become an informed consumer. We have spent some time researching care products and have a full offering in our Shop in our Care Kit. In our next installment we will discuss the how-to of using your care products and some tips.