Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing for Leather
Oct 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm #1240630Addie BedfordBPL Member
Companion forum thread to:Oct 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm #1540178Joe ClementBPL Member
Great stuff. The hiking boots I bought in the early 70s are still usable, probably due to a lifetime of Snoseal. I was unaware that it was OK to use on boots with a Gore-tex liner, so I have a couple of pairs of hunting boots I need to put it on now. I usually put it on thick, and then heat it with a hair dryer until it melts in. Had to keep my hair dryer from the 70s around just to do that (stayin' alive, stayin' alive!).Oct 27, 2009 at 2:52 pm #1540197Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I've used this stuff on leather for almost 30 years now. It's nice to know that others agree with me that it's THE way to go!Oct 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm #1540202
Wonderful blast from the past, Roger.
As it happens, both Ryan and I knew Sno-Seal's inventor–Ome Daiber–who was a renowned Northwest mountaineer and adventurer. His technique for applying the stuff was to heat it into your boots using a warm oven.
My mother was none too pleased, but it worked fine with the boots of the era (which didn't rely on synthetics or adhesives). I would *cautiously* try the trick again today, with the right pair of footwear.
Thanks for triggering a flood of memories.
RickOct 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm #1540236Scott NelsonBPL Member
@nlsscottLocale: Southern California and Sierras
My hiking buddy was making late night preparations before a winter trip and put his boots in the oven to melt the sno-Seal into the leather. He got distracted and came back to find that the heat had activated the glue holding his sole on. The sole came right off!Oct 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm #1540242Hikin’ JimBPL Member
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
I think the hair dryer or even putting them in a sunny window is the way to go.Oct 27, 2009 at 5:45 pm #1540249
Yup, the key is "warm." Not all ovens have a low enough setting to make this viable. FWIW my car trunk gets hotter in summer than I'd need to apply the goop, although that's a cheap alternative :-)
RickOct 27, 2009 at 5:55 pm #1540252Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Yep, good stuff.
Mind you, I don't think I would be game to try the oven trick. Australian sunshine seems very adequate to me.
CheersOct 27, 2009 at 6:31 pm #1540264cameron eiblMember
@cjeiblLocale: San Diego
I agree with all the positive comments in the article. However, I have also had great success using sno-seal on gloves and mittens. I have found that it provides the longest lasting waterproofing for leather subject to abrasion of any product and has the added benefit of making the gloves stickier. My preferred method of application is to use a hair dryer to heat the leather before applying the product.Oct 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm #1540294nanook ofthenorthBPL Member
I once tried to microwave a tube of the stuff to warm it up before applying it to my boots – turns out there is a layer of silver foil in the tube.
I would not recommend that method.
:SOct 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm #1540315F. Thomas MaticaMember
@ftm1776Locale: Vancouver, WA
I make an "oven" from a large cardboard box and heat gun. A kitchen thermometer to monitor the heat. 120 degrees according to the man a Atsto; then glob the Sno-Seal on; let the leather absorb as much as it can. Back in the oven for a re-heat. Wipe off the excess.
Seems to work ok. This winter will tell the tale on keeping my feet dry….or drier as the case may be.Oct 28, 2009 at 5:14 am #1540368John DavisMember
At Aukland airport the drug dog went bananas over my rucksack. The handler thought I was trying to sneak food into the country because of the dog's behaviour. I was taken aside and asked if I wanted a lawyer. Even for someone as innocent as me, that's a worrying question. The customs official blatantly lost interest when the first thing he took from my rucksack was a packet of used NZ maps. By the time he got to the Sno Seal he was looking for anything to explain the dog's behaviour and he was probably right.
Although that inspection meant I didn't have to queue at the window where they check if your tent needs fumigation (at your expense), I still missed my connection to Wellington.Oct 28, 2009 at 6:28 am #1540390Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
For years and years I wore leather boots and did my best to take very good care of them. I tried all sorts of oils and silicone treatment, mink oil, bees wax, Sno-Seal, you name it I tried it. I found that I didn't like Sno-Seal very much because too much of it stayed on the surface and cracked when cold. Most of what I tried just didn't work well. Then I found Limmer Boot Grease from Limmer Boots, the custom boot maker in the States. I once ordered a pair of off-the-shelf Limmer Boots (as opposed to their custom boots, which at the time was a three-year wait) and ordered some of their boot grease along with them. The boots didn't fit well and I sent them back, but I fell in love with the grease. It worked well into the leather just by the warmth of your fingers, it protected well and lasted a long time, it never cracked or settled on the surface, and it kept the boots very water resistant while at the same time keeping the leather reasonably supple. I've not found anything better.
Though I rarely wear boots anymore I miss them. I like the durability they have and the maintainable nature of a product meant to last for many years. Until I got into UL and started going through ridiculous numbers of trail running shoes I had one pair of boots that I still own today… a pair of Merrell Wilderness boots that I bought in 1988. I've resoled them twice, but the uppers are still perfectly fine. I've thrown away lots of shoes, but these I will keep for as long as I can, in spite of their weight.Oct 28, 2009 at 9:38 am #1540438Ross BleakneyBPL Member
Like Jim said, a blow drier works great for warming the boots. I should write a book called "101 Uses for a Blow Drier (that don't involve your hair)".Oct 28, 2009 at 11:19 am #1540474
Miguel's post reminds me that back "in the day" when dinosaurs roamed the backcountry and all hiking footware was leather boots, a good deal of thought went into matching the leather treatment to the leather, based on how it was tanned and whether it was rough-out or smooth-out. No single product, including Sno-Seal, was universally applicable to all types, and proper outdoor shops could tell you what treatment went with which boots.
I can also recall applying seam-sealer to the welts in addition to treating the leather itself.
Today I wonder how long the goretex will hold off the moisture *this* time.
RickOct 28, 2009 at 12:23 pm #1540496John CoyleMember
In the 70's I worked on the Death Canyon Trail Crew for the National Park service. We all had big heavy all leather, non Gore-Tex boots made by Vasque or a similar company. We called them Frankenstein boots. I distinctly remember standing in Death Canyon Creek working on a bridge for 30 minutes in my Sno-seal treated boots without any water leaking through. Back then Sno-Seal was considered the "Bee's Knees". Just a slang expression meaning a high quality product, but apparently even more appropriate in this case. Have'nt used it in years since I switched to running shoes and leather Gore-Tex boots, but nice to know it is still around and thriving.Oct 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm #1540499John CoyleMember
Sorry, I forgot to mention that Death Canyon is in Grand Teton Park just south of Yellowstone Park.Oct 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm #1540586David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
I generally put the oven on 250 or so, let it get hot, then open the door and rest my tele boots on it. Let the leather get warm, apply goop, put 'em back and let warm until the leather soaks up the goop.
This is most effective with clean, new leather. It should soak up several coats.Oct 28, 2009 at 4:27 pm #1540588Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Well, like many other '70s backpackers I always Sno-Sealed my Danner hiking boots. No Gore-Tex then.
The summer Nixon resigned (remember that?!)I was canoeing in Quebec's Kipiwa Game preserve using Viet Nam jungle boots that had been snowsealed ALL over, including the canvas. (Now I merely paint the canvas on my new jungle boots with Thompson's Water Seal) I still use jungle boots for hikes like the Paria River, where you know you'll be wading a lot. They work great. Lugged "river" sandals W/ neoprene booties work well too.
Also I had a green wool "crusher" hat to which I had applied Sno-Seal no fewer than 5 times, using a hair drier each time to get it to soak into the wool. In all day Canadian Shield rains I NEVER got my head wet. That hat shed water like a duck.
In those days there was a dearth of synthetic outdoor clothing so I wore U.S. & Swedish army surplus all wool pants and shirts. Worked great and dried fast. (No Sno-Seal on them!)
**Howsomever I quit using Sno-Seal about 10 years ago and have ever since used Nikwax boot wax from a tube. Seems to work at least as well as Sno- Seal.
EricNov 1, 2009 at 7:39 am #1541615Philip WernerBPL Member
@earlyliteLocale: White Mountain National Forest
I too have been using sno-seal for over 30 years on my boots. I love the stuff and recommend it to everyone I know.
But this season, I've been having some problems with keeping the leather of my boots from saturating, despite several applications of sno-seal.
The problems started soon after a 6 day hike in the 100 mile wilderness during which my boots got very saturated in numerous stream crossings and very high rain fail which turned the AT into a river. After I got home, it took my boots over a week to dry out.
Since then, new coats of snow seal don't prevent the leather from getting wet. Any ideas why?Nov 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm #1541668Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> new coats of snow seal don't prevent the leather from getting wet. Any ideas why?
Not enough detail about your boots.
For instance, if you are wearing heavy multi-layer leather boots (why, one wonders?), then the Sno-Seal won't do anything for the inner layers of leather. If there is padding inside the boot, Sno-Seal won't help that layer either. once the inner layers lose their water-resistance … trouble. And water will always get inside when it is raining.
CheersNov 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm #1541702AnonymousInactive
"> new coats of snow seal don't prevent the leather from getting wet. Any ideas why?"
Possible entry via seams and then spreading by osmosis through leather, sideways and up to surface?Nov 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm #1541719Miguel ArboledaBPL Member
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Leather has natural oils within it that keeps it subtle and the fibres strong. When these oils are depleted the leather loses its integrity and the fibres, as they dry, begin to separate. Curing is intended to preserve this integrity, but once the protection is compromised the leather will break down. Even if you apply external agents to try to arrest this breakdown, the damage has been done. That is why it is important never to let the leather dry out. Repeatedly immersing the leather in water and letting the water evaporate will definitely hasten the drying out of the leather and the weakening of the fibres. Sno-Seal or any other application will have no effect.
Remember, leather is skin. It handles heat and cold, moisture and dryness the same way as our own skin does. Just think what happens when our own skin dries out. It's the same thing.Nov 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm #1542899Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
About the boots that wouldn't seal:
In the old days, everyone got top grain leather boots, because the water resistance is in the top grain. Now, your see split leather everywhere, and some of it is so poor, there is no treatment that will work. Don't mind it on my Nevados, because I use them only for day hikes and walks in dry weather, and they are so comfortable and so cheap.
Sounds as if most have forgotten the old issue of Backpacker where they tested all the boot treatments and created quite a stir, a furor actually if you consider the letter they got from Nikwax.
While Tectron has its uses, mine is another vote for Limmer boot grease, limmercustomboot.com, because they know leather best, and it is designed to both preserve the leather and keep the water out.
Sam Farrington, Chocorua NHNov 5, 2009 at 11:04 am #1543069backpackerchickBPL Member
Roger, when you talk about "joggers" in other posts, I assume you mean trail runners. I would consider the salomons in the photo to be a leather walking shoe with a fairly stiff sole. Almost a mid cut boot. As opposed to some of the mesh trail runners that you can easily bend in two with your hands.
As for water getting in,really need to make sure they are completely clean before putting the stuff on. Dirt probably provides a conduit of sorts.
As for cons, it's a big mess. And the organic solvent can't be good to come intact with — the airways and the skin.
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