June 10, 2015
Keeping the cold and damp off your feet through the fall and Winter can be an ongoing challenge. Over the years I have found this simple process of oiling leather boots to be effective and durable - using an easily attainable material (sheep tallow) from the land.
The boots need to be warmed up in order to receive the oil well so that it penetrates deep for a lasting waterproofing effect.
You can place your boots on a warm wood stove, or stick them in the oven at around 100-120 degrees F. You do not want to over heat the leather and cause it to cook. You just need to get them warm enough that they become supple and pliable - just like it is on the living animal.
As the boots warm up, you can melt whatever oil or fat you prefer in preperation for application. I use sheep or goat tallow, as it is something we often have on hand in abundance. You could also use more fancy oil like neatsfoot oil, or even something as common as vegetable or olive oil.
Normally, it is suggested to use a fine liquid oil like neatsfoot oil. If the boots are not warmed up, then it is pretty much impossible to get a heavier oil like tallow into the pores of the leather. But I have found that the simple trick of warming up the boots and oil allows the oil to penetrate easily.
When everything is warmed up, simply take a a rag (or just your fingers if you are into that sort of thing...it is very moisturising) and begin rubbing in the oil. do one boot at a time. By the time you finish the second boot, the first one should be ready to receive another coating.
When the boot cool down, or do not appear to be recieving any more oil, warm the back up to help the oil settle in. Keep warming and applying oil until the boots no longer take any more oil. At the point you should have well saturated leather which will repel water for a long while.
Enjoy your dry feet!