Why is waterproofing important for your shoes?
Before I tell you how to waterproof leather and discuss the products you can use to water proof leather – water proof sprays, waxes and so on, you should understand why waterproofing your shoes is important at all.
- Water and salt damage is costly: Water will damage the suppleness of the leather of your shoes, leather that could endure thousands of flexes will have its life reduce to a fraction of this amount. Understand that leather is an animal skin product, normally of horse or cattle, so it is made of proteins and fats which can tolerate no more than a specific amount of moisture after it has been tanned. Leather owes its unique strength to the criss-crossing fibres in the corium, but these are also prone to drying out / cracking if not given due care. This means you have to minimize the rapid intakes and releases of water content, as well as exposure to acids / bases – both of these, can harm the leather permanently.
Besides this, salt and other harmful chemicals present in the water can stain the leather. These stains can be tough to remove after they have permeated into the leather itself, and if they are left untreated, they will discolour and compromise the upper layers as well as the finish of the shoe.
- Comfort: It goes without saying that wet feet are a major discomfort, and this is especially bothersome at the workplace where they can become a distraction from your work. Waterproofing prevents this from happening, allowing you to devote your attention to your work instead of the constant irksome feeling in your feet.
Waterproofing or water resistance?
Note that there is no such thing is 100% absolute waterproofing. No matter how much waterproof spray for boots you apply, they won’t be able to hold out against constant and highly prolonged exposure to water. However, it is unlikely you’ll have your feet on water for days on end, so a reasonable amount of water protection will definitely do the job.
What are your options for waterproofing?
- Wax based polishes: In contrast to shoe pastes and creams, that are made to nourish shoe leather, wax based polishes create a thin protective layer which resists water and salt damage. You’ll need to apply regularly this kind of protection to you shoes for it to be effective. Manufacturers of these products include Lincoln and Meltonian.
- Specialty waterproof products: These are products with the sole purpose of protecting the leather – examples include the Atsko Sno-Seal Original Beeswax Waterproofing 7-Ounce and the Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative. Products such as these reliably protect your shoe’s leather and also stick around longer than standard polishes. They don’t create a shine unlike wax based polishes but instead seal off moisture, so you’ll need to use them in combination with a polish after the seal is set.
Shoe waterproof sprays: It is a common perception that waterproof boot sprays don’t give the leather adequate breathing room and that if they have silicone in them, they will dry the leather out. However, a boot waterproofing spray cannot be beaten in terms of ease of use. An example of this kind of spray is the Kiwi Camp Dry, Heavy Duty Water Repellent, 12oz. You’ll need to be liberal in your use of these sprays since their effectiveness ebbs after a few wears. Instead of penetrating the leather, they are supposed to create a pro