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How To :: Make Leather Conditioner with Mercy Supply

How To :: Make Leather Conditioner with Mercy Supply

by , July 14, 2014

If you love leather and want to take care of the leather items you own, from bags to boots and a host of leather items in between, one of the best ways to do so is by applying leather conditioner to them. Perhaps you may have even wondered how to make leather conditioner yoursef. If so, then you’ve come to the right place, as Mercy Supply founder Rusty Zylstra has kindly agreed to share an easy how-to guide for making your own awesome leather conditioner…

Hey, my name’s Rusty Zylstra, I started Mercy Supply in 2009, in a lawn mower shed, in a backyard. We’ve all heard the story before – I worked a few jobs that were terrible and vowed to never work for another person again. But I really meant it. I wanted my business to focus on well made, long-lasting, durable, handmade products. This interest has us constantly testing our bags and workwear to the max. How far can they go? How long can they last? We wear our clothes hard and our bags heavy. It’s what they’re meant for. It’s what I live for and we at Mercy strive every day to craft products and clothing that are built to last.

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In order to have items that last a lifetime, they need to be cared for, especially leather. Just like our own skin, it gets dry and needs moisture. This is why we make our Substantial Leather Conditioner. Everyone has their own way or slant but this one here is my favorite.

What’s the secret?

Neatsfoot oil and beeswax.

It’s as simple as that. Neatsfoot oil is an oil derived from the lower leg of a cow. It’s what helps keep their legs from freezing during the colder months by recycling body heat rather than losing it. While most body fat in colder temperatures stiffens, this oil stays liquified and is able to move through the lower legs efficiently. Many other animals have this characteristic too, but neatsfoot oil is specifically from cows.

Beeswax is a product of worker honey bees. They use it to make the honeycomb in which they raise their young and store their honey.

These two ingredients combined make a killer leather conditioner. Neatsfoot oil is a liquid and beeswax is a solid (at room temperature.) When melted down and combined together they make a beautifully thick paste. It acts both as a waterproofer and as conditioner. You can make it over your kitchen stove or over an open fire. I decided to do my making of leather conditioner in the dead of Michigan winter on a -15F afternoon.

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Let’s just say things took a while to melt together…

Here’s how it’s done:

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1) Place the neatsfoot oil and the cakes of beeswax in the pot.

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2) Set up your stove, in this case outside in the pines.


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3) Let that sucker burn until the beeswax melts and becomes a nice thick, oily liquid.

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4) Of course it’s easiest to put the conditioner into its tins while still a liquid. In this temperature it didn’t want to stay in that state very long. It started hardening almost instantly after each pour.

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5) Always make sure you’ve got a dog like Ishmael in the background, we always do. 😉

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6) Clean up your mess and prepare the tins to be ready to sell.


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