>> Leather Products
Be aware that some leather products that have been around for
a long time have new formulations. Therefore, chemically you are
really looking at an entirely new leather product so while you
think you may be achieving certain results from using the product
last year; this year with the new formulations, the results achieved
could be very different. Additionally, some leather products that
have been in use for a long time were used for a different purpose
than used today.
Technology continues to offer new leather products such as acrylic
copolymers that form a barrier ‘net’ too fine for
water molecules to pass through, but still porous enough to let
water vapor in so the leather can still breath. These products
do not have the slippery consistency of silicone sprays and do
not have a negative effect on dyes.
Most reputable leather merchants will also give you guidelines
about how to care for your leather. Some even provide information
about how to tell good leather from bad. This site is well versed
in that area... Adam Leathers
Their tag line is “The Oldest Name in Leathers” and
joking aside, they have been around and have built a good reputation
and the products are incredible!
This natural leather product has been in use for a long time.
Today, it is combined with ingredients that are more modern, which
allows for better leather products to be made. One of the primary
things that beeswax does is provides waterproofing although it
also replaces natural oils.
Blackball is a combination of beef tallow, beeswax, and soot
that was used in the 18th century as a multi-purpose leather treatment,
waterproofing, conditioning, and blackening in one fell swoop.
A simple wipe down or brushing with each use is a good idea for
your leather items to help knock dirt off the surface and keep
dust from working its way into the pores. For heavier soiled leather
or for stains, cleaning should be done to keep the dirt and other
debris from working its way into the leather and becoming a permanent,
more than likely unattractive part of your item.
The concept here is not washing per se. You are applying a detergent
of sorts to the surface to emulsify and lift off soils and stains.
Follow directions and determine first if the type of soil you
are dealing with can be removed with spot cleaning. If needed,
you can clean the entire area of the leather.
Cleaning is always followed by conditioning. Just be sure to
let the item dry thoroughly and naturally, and avoid using hair
dryers unless specified to be okay by the manufacturer. In some
cases, using a hair dryer on low heat is permissible but of course,
you want to do this with extreme care.
You can follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, or just
use common sense here. It is not difficult to tell if your leather
is a bit tired. Regular conditioning will prevent deterioration
such as cracking, which is important since once leather is cracked
there is no going back.
Cracked leather can only be fully repaired by replacing it. Although
it can also be dyed so the leather appears uniform, the crack
will remain. Conditioners run the gamut from oil to wax and both
function as conditioners. Wax tends to make leather harder, which
works for some items such as a bicycle seat while oil tends to
make leather softer as what you would find with a leather sofa.
Lanolin is another conditioner... Obenauf's
has leather products that are worth considering, especially if
you are working with a specialized garment such as motorcycle
and firefighter’s gear. Obenauf’s also makes boot
care kits that people rave about.
Conditioners also function as basic waterproofing agents or sealants.
This makes perfect sense since it is the same principal at work
as in nature when the hide was still on the animal. If you are
working on a leather item that is not going to be in direct contact
with your skin, oil is great. Boots and the outside of a jacket
are good candidates.
It is always a good idea to give oil a day to soak in, regardless.
If you are working with an item that does touch your skin, or
fabric, for example a seat of some sort, give the product time
to soak in and maybe a gentle cleaning before you sit on it or
Mink has a fatty layer under their skin and have great pelts,
as you know. This fatty layer is rendered and turned into Mink
Oil, which is used to treat leather. Mink oil will leave furniture
feeling greasy. It’s primary purpose is as a water proofing
agent for hiking boots. It is not recommended as a protective
coating for upholstery leather. Some Mink leather products have
filler ingredients so read the label if you prefer good quality.
A “neat” is a beef animal, and this oil used to be
made out of cow hooves, hence the name. It is heavy oil and is
known to rot cotton stitching on leather items that have been
sewn. Of all the raw oils, Neatsfoot oil seems to have the most
colorful history. Neatsfoot oil was combined with all sorts of
things to keep leather (especially footwear) serviceable.
Saddle soap is a great solution for saddles but can actually
harm upholstery leather. Saddles are made from tough, vegetable
tanned leather that can take the alkalinity of saddle soap. It's
intended to remove manure and related heavy soil from saddles.
Upholstery grade leather has been processed differently, usually
processed with chromium tanning which imparts supple characteristics.
Saddle soap speeds up the demise of upholstery leather by breaking
down the fibrous structure through chemical reaction.
In the days when most leather items were the natural color of
the hide, this was not an issue. In fact, the age finish that
saddles take on was desirable. As dying and bleaching leather
has become more popular, people are more concerned about the leather
staying the original color purchased.
Most guidelines for leather care also recommend staying away
from anything that has silicone in it. Silicone leather products
produce nice finishes. However, there is not anything in them
to condition the leather.
A newsletter for Jaguar enthusiasts warned that use of silicone
on leather seats could make future repairs, especially re-coloring
very difficult. If this is not an issue, silicone polymers sprays
are non-greasy leather products that can be used on all leather,
including suede to produce this type of finish.
Some guidelines put petroleum products in the same category as
silicone. For leather conservation as in a museum or collectible,
petroleum components are used in leather products where animal-based
products might not be as suitable because they could be a medium
for bacteria or mold contamination.
If you are riding, wearing or driving your leather item outside
of a museum collection, you do not need to worry about this as
much. <a href="http://www.pecard.com">Pecard</a>
is a company that makes one of the best leather products according
to museum and restoration specialists. There is also British Museum
Leather Dressing It's expensive and you have to get it from a
vendor that sells supplies to museums.
Another process to mention is stripping. Stripping takes all
of the oil out of the leather, leaving you with the raw material.
If you were going to dye leather, stripping would be necessary.
Sometimes new leather has a finish layer that prevents absorption
of a conditioner or sealant so you may want to strip this off
before conditioning. Usually, as you use the item, this factory
applied conditioning will wear off. Keep in mind that there are
commercial leather strippers on the market that are petroleum-based
solvents - Naphthalene is a perfect example. The downfall is that
commercial strippers can be pricey.
Interestingly, Zippo lighter fluid is made of the same chemical
and is much less expensive, but a word of caution, before you
go dousing your new leather with lighter fluid, ask the manufacturer
about any sealant that might have been used. Some of these wear
off naturally so by the time you are ready to condition, you will
not need to strip the leather first.
Leather products can now be found in most stores. In fact, even
your grocery store is likely to carry them. These two sites...
Lexol and Leatherique
have been around for a while and have great reputations.
The makers of these leather products say that they have kept
the good effects of “raw” products traditionally used
on leather and used modern chemistry to modify them, as a way
of reducing or eliminating some of the not so desirable effects.
Magnesium (School Chalk)
This substance can be used to clean buckskin. Simply use a soft
brush on the rough side and chamois cloth on the soft side. School
chalk or corn meal will also absorb grease. If you are working
with white buckskin, using magnesium on the stain after brushing
lightly is a popular home remedy.
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