Beeswax for Leather (DIY Instructions)
For hundreds of years, artisans have understood the power of using beeswax for leather cleaning. Whether used as an aid in the creation of new products or to give new life and shine to old favorites, this beeswax conditioner will not let you down. It protects the leather surface and gives it a shiny new look. Best of all, you can make your own right at home.
How Beeswax Protects Leather
Leather is made of animal skin and it requires special care. It is a common material used to make everything from horse saddles to shoes, purses, belts and more. A tough sturdy material it is perfect for many uses.
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Of course, the leather is prepared in a way that helps it maintain strength for a long time. But, all leather needs periodic cleanings or it will dry out and even crack. Pine resin, cod oil and beef tallow are common leather preservers too.
Some of the first people to appreciate the qualities of beeswax for leather were the settlers, loggers and trappers. They needed to avoid soggy feet.
The use of beeswax on leather offers a bit of waterproofing protection. Raindrops and little splashes tend to run off the surface – rather then soaking in.
In addition, the wax helps hold in some of the natural leather moisture and helps to inhibit excessive dryness and cracking.
It is also useful in the creation of leather items. Laces lubricated with beeswax are easier to use for stitching. It also serves as a good edger and can be burnished into the edges of leather items to help seal out water.
- shea butter
- sweet almond oil
- coconut oil
Shea butter is a natural product that is made from the nut of the Shea tree. This tree is found in Africa and inhabitants have used the rich nut butter in a variety of ways for centuries.
Shea is known to help moisturize old leather pieces. It is also commonly used in products for human skin. I use it in my beeswax Body Butter and also this homemade face moisturizer.
Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet Almond Oil is rich but not as greasy as some liquid oils. This makes it a good partner for leather care. It also absorbs well into the leather surface. You can use olive oil instead if you wish.
Coconut oil is readily available – you can buy it almost everywhere these days. In this recipe, it helps soften up the beeswax and make it easier to work with. Not the best product for leather care on its own – it is a good part of the team.
Beeswax comes from honey bees. It is produced and used to create the honeycomb structure that becomes their home. Thankfully, they make enough to share.
Beeswax is used in thousands of ways in and around our homes. It is available for purchase in a variety of forms. If you purchase raw beeswax from a local beekeeper, be sure to clean your wax properly.
This recipe makes a medium consistency form of leather polish. It is fine to experiment some with the ratios of the ingredients.
If you find that you wish to have a softer polish, re-melt your ingredients and add a bit more sweet almond oil or coconut oil. For a firmer mixture, you need to add a bit more beeswax – feel free to vary the formula a bit.
How to Use Beeswax on Leather
One of the beauties of using products like this on leather is that it does not require a lot of it to get the job done. Even small amounts properly applied can give a durable finish.
Also, I like the idea of using a natural product rather than those containing paraffin and other petroleum by products.
Make sure that the leather surface is clean. Brush away any dirt or mud before proceeding. Likewise the leather surface should dry and warm – or at least not cold.
For the wax and oil mixture to work into the leather surface, we need the leather to be at least room temperature. When using beeswax to waterproof my old farm boots, I actually heat the boot before working the mixture in the shoe leather.
Use a small soft piece of towel or cleaning rags and apply a small amount of beeswax leather conditioner to the surface. Gentle small circular motions help work the materials in.
Let the item sit for several minutes (15 or so), then use a clean soft cloth to wipe away any excess product. This leaves a thin coat of beeswax on the surface to protect, soften and condition the leather grain and texture.
Not Best for Leather Furniture
As wonderful as beeswax is as a leather preserver, it is not the best product to use on leather furniture. I would also not use it on car seats for the same reasons.
It provides enough lubrication to prevent hardening of the leather on most items. But, on large furniture surfaces, it can have a stiff, waxy feel – chair, couches etc.
For those purposes, one of the commercial products that are specifically blended for leather would be a better choice.
DIY Beeswax for Leather Cleaning & Softening
- 1/4 cup beeswax (57 grams)
- 2 tablespoon shea butter (27 grams)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (54 grams)
- 2 tablespoon Sweet Almond Oil (28 grams)
- Slowly melt shea butter and beeswax in a double boiler or similar container.
- Add coconut oil (it may be a solid or liquid depending on the temperature)
- Add sweet almond oil and stir ingredients together.
- Pour into a wide mouth container and allow to cool. I had more than enough for one tin – so I put the rest in a wide mouth jar for my Mom.
While this beeswax recipe for leather care is a great way to protect your expensive items, there are some things you should keep in mind.
- Both beeswax and coconut oil have the tendency to darken leather. If you have a concern about this, try it on a small inconspicuous spot first.
- Use only a small amount. You will have better results using a small amount of conditioner rather than using too much.
- Beeswax has a low melting point 147° F. Don’t overheat your wax when melting
- If using on new leather products during construction – don’t apply until after the dyeing process. Wax is a sealer and will interfere with the proper coloring.
Using beeswax for care of leather goods is a great way to naturally prolong the life of your items without using nasty chemicals.
Beeswax is a wonderful gift from the hive. Don’t throw away any leftovers. You can use it to make some natural wax wraps, wax sewing cakes, lip balms or other small beeswax gifts. And of course, don’t forget that you can make your own beeswax furniture polish.