Vaseline for leather boots

Discussion in 'Clothing' started by Quinlan, Apr 16, 2019 at 2:01 AM.

  1. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,

    Has anyone used vaseline for leather conditioning?

    I have a hiking trip coming up and in the spirit of keeping expenses to the minimum, I am considering alternatives treatments for my leather boots. They are already factory waterproofed and I have used them on short hikes in heavy rain without any issue at all, but i want to do more in order to feel safe for a hiking trip.

    So, instead of the wonderful products like Neatsfoot Oil, Obenauf's Leather Oil, Huberd's Shoe oil, Huberd's Shoe Grease and the expensive products that Timberland sells (my boots' brand), I thought of vaseline which I've already got at home.

    By the way, darkening of the leather colour isn't an issue, I don't mind at all.

    Regards,

    Christos
     
  2. EternalLove

    EternalLove Guide

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    No.

    I like Lexol leather conditioner.

    Vaseline may harm leather. Or not. I have only heard bad things. Mostly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019 at 2:59 AM
  3. SilverFox

    SilverFox Scout

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    I would wax them. You can use a wax toilet ring, cost around $5.00 at your local Lowes or hardware store. It is easy to put on and can be melted in with a hair dryer or heat gun. Heat up the leather, then rub on the wax, heat again and melt as much as possible into the leather, then wipe off the excess. I have used this, but prefer bee's wax. Use the same method for basically any wax. I saw the toilet ring method on Outdoor life. You might go to their website and do a search, it's a short video.
     
  4. Doc.

    Doc. Scout

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    I’ve been using vasoline for decades on leather work boots and hiking boots. Do an initial deep leather conditioning with a high quality oil when you first get them. After the leather begins to fold to your feet you can switch to petroleum jelly. Keep in mind that “waxing” (along with other water-proofing measures) does not condition leather. But that’s a subject for a whole nuther thread. Doc.
     
  5. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    hello,
    @Quinlan I've had a chat with a Cobbler (shoe repairer) in the past over this age old use of petroleum jelly. It will soften the leather & help prevent it from cracking. I have used it on patent leather but in preference, I'd stick to caring for my footwear as I've always done "spit & polish" with a liberal dose of elbow grease, followed with an application of SnoSeal. As any product application on leather remember to use a lint-free cloth to apply it. BTW the expensive products that Timberland sells your paying for the name, more so than the product. :(
    Regards
    David
     
  6. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,

    Thank you everyone for your replies. :)

    @DavidJAFO, why do you say "in preference" SnoSeal? I am curious to learn if there is a reason to prefer that product or one of the others mentioned above over petroleum jelly. Is there a specific reason for your preference?

    Regards,

    Christos
     
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  7. JonM

    JonM Scout

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    SnoSeal contains beeswax. I've been using it on all my leather boots for years. after application use a hair dryer to melt it in to the leather then buff it out.
     
  8. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I won’t/don’t use petroleum products on leather. There are lots of natural oils and waxes that can be had for a few pounds/dollars. Make up a mix of solid coconut oil and bees wax Christos. A small jar of it will last a long time.
     
  9. Seacapt.

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    Yup, Vaseline or Vermont Bag Balm always available in the house or barn is what generations of us Maine natives have used on our boots, harnesses, sheaths or any other leather items where function is more important than shine.
     
  10. Togus

    Togus Supporter Supporter

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    I second that motion.
     
  11. riokid87

    riokid87 Scout

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    If you have gortex liner, pj may ruin it.
    I spilled a teaspoon of motor oil on my favorite gortex boot. Wiped it right off. But 3 weeks later that boot was no longer waterproof. Coincidence?
    Ik mineral oil and many neatsfoot oils have petroleum products in them.
    Melt a little bees wax and add some neatsfoot or mineral oil to it so it cools to a soft solid. About like regular shoe polish. Or get some butchers butter.
    I do like pj on my firearms for long term storage.
     
  12. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker #42 Supporter

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    Same here actually. Works real well for my work boots during rough weather. Wet winters are especially common here and SnoSeal has been the most effective product.
     
  13. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    hello,
    @Quinlan just remember when your plodding through the Scottish highlands & your boots are squelching with bog water.. :( SnoSeal stops the water penetrating the leather. A small 35mm film canister or a small Vaseline tin should hold enough SnoSeal to protect your boots for your trip into the highlands. I did have a tub of the product which lasted for years. I now have a tube (similar in size to a toothpaste tube) of SnoSeal & I have used it but barely dented the content. :)
    Regards
    David
     
  14. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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    hello,
    @riokid87 the Scots climate, as youngsters I can remember when we were storing our bicycles for the winter months, we were advised to apply a light coating a PJ to the metal parts wheels etc.. to stop them rusting. :)
    Regards
    David
     
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  15. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    petroleum products are generally frowned upon when leather is in the same sentence

    most of the above mentioned leather treatments will provide you w/ a good long leather life and will do well at weatherproofing it

    the waxy/greasy products can easily be liquified by floating the container in a pan of hot water on the stove making it anvil simple/easy to apply

    this is one situation where cheaping out is really not in your favor

    there will always be those who disagree w/ this track butt i'm sure my leather products will last longer than their's and i don't have any extra funds to replace mine
     
  16. AdirondackBadger

    AdirondackBadger Guide

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    No! Anything oil based will not allow the leather to breath. It may feel softer, but this is because it is breaking down the fibers within the leather. Eventually it will begin to rot. Do not use Vaseline on your leather!

    This is actually an old trick that shady car salesmen would use to "rejuvenate" leather interiors on old cars.
     
  17. Doc.

    Doc. Scout

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    Again, there is a difference between conditioning leather and waterproofing leather. Snoseal is a wax-based waterproofing. It does not condition leather; it covers and infiltrates leather. Petroleum jelly conditions. And no, it does not promote fibrous breakdown in the leather/skin. If it did , it would not be recommended for babies bottoms. You will need both conditioning and waterproofing. Condition often. Waterproof sparingly. Doc.
     
  18. AdirondackBadger

    AdirondackBadger Guide

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    You ask about conditioning, but then mention your boots area already waterproofed however want to do more to feel safer. That sounds like you want to water proof them more. Conditioning is not water-proofing.

    You can easily over-saturate leather with Vaseline, which will in turn cause the leather fiber to expand and the strength and integrity of the leather to break down over time.

    Skin is not leather.

    Keep in mind products such as petroleum jelly will melt easily, almost at room temperature. This means you will have to reapply them frequently to main an effective concentration on the surface. This is because as they soak into the leather and away from the surface, the leather can eventually get too soft - almost mushy even.

    Any oil based products should be avoided because after several applications,the product can soak through completely.

    Also, saturated leather cannot absorb perspiration and loses any insulation factor, making your feet feel clammy and cold.

    Something that contains beeswax such as the mixture @NevadaBlue mentioned above is a good choice. This is because beeswax resists migrating through the leather and stays where it is needed - on the surface. Ultimately, beeswax provides the maximum waterproof effectiveness and durability for smooth full-grain leather footwear.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019 at 9:40 AM
  19. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,

    A lot of food for thought from everyone, thank you all! :)

    @AdirondackBadger, I stand corrected. Due to unfamiliarity with the terms, I used them both. I do recognise the differences between them now that I know a bit more from reading through the replies here.

    I think i will do both conditioning and waterproofing.

    Regards,

    Christos
     
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  20. DavidJAFO

    DavidJAFO Supporter Supporter

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  21. AdirondackBadger

    AdirondackBadger Guide

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    That's what BCUSA is for! :dblthumb:

    Doing both is your best bet. Proper leather care is a three step process - clean, condition, protect.

    Conditioning is meant to moisturize leather to preserve its durability and appearance. You just don't want to over do it. Leather conditioners are only meant for occasional use. Every few months is fine depending on how active you.

    There are also much better options out there than Vaseline. Stay As the old saying goes - You get what you pay for.

    Here are some links to conditioners that range from $3 to $20 which you might want to consider.
    You could also make your own recipe. There are some who just use a simple 50/50 mix of beeswax and neatsfoot or mink oil.

    Over the past winter I was thinking about this a bit and thought a combination of beeswax, mink Oil, and Pine Pitch would make a great overall protectant. In doing so, I came across a company called called Montana Pitch Blend. They only sell three products, and all are very affordable.

    Also, make sure that you clean and wash your boots before you applying any of conditioners, protectant or waterproofing products. If you happen to discover mold anywhere on the outside of the leather while cleaning, you need to remove it. To do this, create a 4:1 mix of water and vinegar to scrub off the mold with a stiff brush.

    Be sure that your boots are broken in before applying any waterproofing as well. Guessing they are at this point, but just thought I would mention it.

    Lastly, if you ultimately you are looking for more protection, apply some seam sealer to you boots as well before you waterproof them.

    By the way, what kind of boots do you have?
     
  22. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Good leather boots are too expensive to gamble with treatments that are not specifically designed for that purpose in my opinion. If they are cheap boots that won’t last a long time anyway , it probably matters much less what you use as the negative effects of the wrong product may not be seen before the boot falls apart anyway. Vaseline may be fine but I don’t trust it. Lots of things are fine in the short term. Obenauf’s LP is recommended by WC Russell Moccasin Co. and I trust their expertise so that’s what I generally use. I have used Sno Seal in the past but I prefer the Obenauf's. It goes on easy, doesn’t take a hair dryer to soak in, smells nice , does not appear to build up or prevent breathing and has worked really well for me so far. It’s not the cheapest but I think it’s a small price to pay for maintenance of an expensive and important piece of equipment.
     
  23. rmorgan736

    rmorgan736 Scout

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    vasaline is petrolium based and will promote rot................we used to use lamb fat on the farm being greek there was always plenty around makes them nice and soft too......
     
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  24. Nightflyer

    Nightflyer Supporter Supporter

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    Petroleum jelly isn't the best thing for leather. It's petroleum. Also too much of any kind of oil or grease on leather will swell the cells to the point of bursting which shows up as cracking, etc. I've restored a couple of antique baseball gloves, and use a mix of beef tallow and beeswax to finish. The beef tallow helps replace some of the natural the oils and nutrients removed by the tanning process and the beeswax helps with the water resistance. As with any kind of leather treatment, thin coats are better.
     
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  25. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,

    Indeed! Great place to be a part of. Haven’t ever felt differently since I first visited here.:)

    Three step process, check!:dblthumb:

    I am seriously thinking about it. I have beeswax and coconut oil at hand, raw linseed oil and also castor oil. I've been thinking about castor oil since I stumbled upon this newspaper article:
    https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=PRP18831027.2.29&e=-------en--20--1--txt-txIN--------1

    Timberland Earthkeepers Rugged 6" Boots.
    Not hiking boots per se, but I have a soft spot for this brand. My previous pair of theirs lasted almost 3 decades and is still going, although soles need changing and general restoration effort necessary.

    Anyway, this pair

    20171223_140722.jpg

    Has:

    They have been broken in, i have been wearing them for over a year now. A few really tough hikes deep in mud and heave rain, no worries so far. However, I want to be triple sure, so before I go to my hiking trip to Scotland they will definitely get the triple treatment of cleaning/conditioning/waterproofing.

    Again, thank you all for your replies. :)

    Are you Greek?

    Regards,

    Christos
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019 at 7:46 AM
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  26. Pinnah

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    This is consistent with my experience. IMO, SnowSeal has led to the premature breakdown of several boots I've owned. I've since switched to Limmer's boot grease.

    This is consistent with my understanding. The combination of silicone and volatile spirits like that found in AquaSeal do a great job of waterproofing but at the cost of fast damage to leather. I damaged a pair of nice boots with AquaSeal.

    I've found a steady diet of SnowSeal to be damaging. The leather may be sealed on the outside but it sort of dry rots underneath from a combination of repeated flexing and sweat wetness. My Merrill Wildernesses got damaged this way. Switching to Limmer Boot Grease has allowed those boots to stay in service.

    After many years of ski touring and hunting in leather boots (in wet snow), I've concluded that the way to keep boots dry in wet conditions requires a 3 pronged approach:
    1. Use a rubber-randed full coverage gaiter with the rands glued down across the front. These are very hard to find these days.
    2. Seal the seams and (if boot has them) the outer edges of the leather midsoles with SeamGrip to prevent water getting in from the bottom.
    3. Use vapor barrier socks between your liner and insulating socks to prevent soaking the boot from the inside out.
    I no longer bother trying to waterproof full grain leather boots with waxed based products like SnoSeal or Nikwax. I would rather have damp feet and healthy boots that last a long time. I pack extra socks.
     
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  27. rbinhood

    rbinhood Scout

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    I've read that what you use depends on how the leather was originally tanned. There is oil tanning and vegetable tanning. If the leather was oil tanned, then using oil to treat it should be ok, but I think I would focus on something made from animal oil, as opposed to petroleum products like Vaseline. I've used a product called Pecards on oil tanned leather with good success.
    If vegetable tanned, I've heard wax is the best treatment. Using oil on vegetable tanned leather causes it to break down and lose its form or shape. The people who make Snowseal have a lot of time and money invested in producing a good product. I've used it with good results on everything from boots to knife sheaths.
    To start, I'd call Timberland and see what they suggest, and also ask what process was used to tan the leather in your boots.
    Somebody mentioned getting oil on boots with a Goretex liner. Oil breaks the surface tension of water and allows it to pass through the microscopic pores in the Goretex. Even body oil will eventually do this. It was a real problem with first generation Goretex.
    I've also used an ordinary can of spay silicone with good success on leather.
     
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  28. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,
    Gaiters, thanks for reminding me about them. Will look into buying a pair. I was thinking about them as mud protection, not about waterproofing since they don't seal completely. However, this is a new concept to me. Rubber-randed, are you talking about the Yeti Gaiters from Berghaus?

    Regards,

    Christos


    -randed,
     
  29. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,
    Thanks @rbinhood.

    Regards,

    Christos
     
  30. Pinnah

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    Those boots have a waterproof membrane.

    I have several boots/shoes with membranes like this, including a pair of Timberlands.

    I see no benefit to adding additional waterproofing to the outers on boots with waterproof liners, even if/when the liners start to leak a bit.

    If it were me, I would just focus on treating the leather to keep it from drying out. I would stick to natural products like lanolin based products.
     
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  31. Pinnah

    Pinnah Tracker

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    Yes, this is the style I'm referring too.

    These used to be quite popular in the US among telemark/backcountry skiers when most telemark boots were leather.

    These are a pain in the neck to manage. If you leave them on your boots long term, they can roll the toes of you boots up. If you don't glue the toes down to the leather, walking in snow will cause them to pop off the front. If you glue them to the leather, you'll scar teh leather taking them on and off each season. There's no free lunch here.

    But they offer unsurpassed protection in crazy wet conditions, particularly if you glue them to the leather and if you put SeamGrip on the stitching of the boots.

    But now that I've seen your boots, I'm not sure I would recommend this approach. There's Scotland and then there's Scotland, so it depends on how boggy and wet you intend to get. If you're just going to be walking in wet grass and puddles, I suspect that a combination of leather grease and the membrane in your boots will be enough. I would advocate normal gaiters like ORs though.

    But if you're going to spend all day in boggy conditions, then rubber rand gaiters would help imo. I used to use them for hunting in boggy, snowy Vermont. (Full disclosure, I no longer use them.)
     
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  32. Quinlan

    Quinlan Supporter Supporter

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    Greetings,
    That's where I am at. My trip is going to take place first week of June, so although I anticipate heavy rain spells (Scotland being Scotland), statistically June is one of the less rainy months, so i expect wet grass and puddles mostly.

    Regards,

    Christos
     
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  33. Yknpdlr

    Yknpdlr Scout

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    Limmer grease. I formerly would use snoseal, but when I bought my first pair of Limmer boots, I was convinced to switch to Limmer grease, an animal based product. My boots now never leak (unlike with snoseal) and the leather remains firm and well fitting to my feet. I also wear gaiters in all seasons. Obviously good in winter and rainy seasons, plus they offer good protection from sticks and debris, and work as "one steppers" to get me quickly across narrow water streams with one quick step allowing no water getting into my boots or socks.
     
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