Beeswax is a natural product that has many uses, ranging from creams and lotions to those sweet smelling candles you have at home! One of its uses is as a waterproofing agent for leather. Many of us own leather gear and most of it is quite expensive! Therefore, the topic of protecting this leather comes up a lot. In this article, we will discuss how to best use beeswax to protect and waterproof leather.
Why Does Beeswax Waterproof Leather?
You are asking the wrong question. Beeswax doesn’t waterproof leather, it simply provides a protective coating to prevent water from soaking into the leather fibers. The reason beeswax is so good at this is simply because it can coat the leather fibers deeply, creating a strong barrier against water. It can’t be dissolved by this water, so its integrity will remain blocking the water from your leather fibers for some time 🙂 As long as this wax coats the fibers, a waterproof seal will be possible.
How to waterproof leather with beeswax:
The process of waterproofing leather with beeswax is simple. All you need is some beeswax and a heat source. Just make sure your beeswax is from a good source and you can vouch that it is pure beeswax!
Before you apply anything to your leather, make sure to clean off any grime or dirt from the leather surface using a clean cloth. This will give the beeswax the best conditions to protect your leather.
First, melt the beeswax. You can do this by placing it in a pan over low heat, or by using a microwave. Then, apply the melted beeswax to the leather with a circular motion. You can do this with a soft brush, clean toothbrush or even with your fingers.Most sensible people would opt to a soft cloth though 🙂 Finally, buff out any excess wax with a dry cloth and allow the beeswax to dry. You can do this by leaving it in the sun, or by using a hair dryer if you are in a rush. This process is so simple. You can see why beeswax has been used to waterproof leather for centuries.
Pro tip: Avoid using a paper towel whilst applying beeswax. The integrity of the paper towel will probably break down and you will end up with small paper towel fibers in your lovely beeswax! Not ideal!
Is Beeswax Good for Leather?
Is using beeswax for leather a good idea? When applied to leather, beeswax has advantages over some other leather conditioning products. It can protect the leather whilst being dry and oil free. As an animal skin, the best way to keep leather subtle and crack free is to treat it in a similar way to what would happen in the natural world. Beeswax can provide just enough moisture to leather to keep it from cracking and drying up, but to truly keep your leather in good condition, most people add some additional natural ingredients. The ingredients of choice are cod oil and beef tallow, which will give you the full protective properties of the beeswax alongside some additional moisturizing qualities. Essential oils can also be a good choice. Avoid adding man-made chemicals such as paraffin to your beeswax mix, as with will have the opposite effect!
Advantages of beeswax leather waterproofing:
There are several advantages to using beeswax for waterproofing leather, as follows;
First, beeswax is a natural product made by bees during the honey making process. This means that it is environmentally friendly, and it is not harmful to animals in its pure form. This is preferable to using chemical based alternatives.
Second, beeswax is durable. It will protect the leather from water and other elements, and it will extend the life of the leather.
Disadvantages of beeswax leather waterproofing
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to waterproofing leather with beeswax! Here are some of the disadvantages;
If you are a beekeeper or know a local beekeeper, you can probably access beeswax at a low cost. If you are not so lucky, you will be in the hands of the ‘retail gods’ when it comes to buying beeswax. As a natural product, this beeswax is usually on the expensive side 🙂
You can take this one pound block of Texas beeswax from Amazon as an example below (click the image to view it over there). It is a lot more expensive than other waterproofing waxes you might buy. Even a high-quality waterproofing wax would cost around half the price of beeswax.
It is pretty convenient to buy a tube of waterproofing wax or cream in a tin, jar or tube. Simply squeeze into onto a cloth and apply – done! As you can see from some of the instructions in this article, beeswax isn’t so simple. First, you need to melt it. Then you need to find somewhere to store any excess beeswax you have left over. And cleaning up this type of wax is not easy either! You could use a disposable bowl, but thats not exactly good for the environment, is it! And I assume you are using a natural product such as beeswax to be environmentally friendly in some way! All in all, you will need some patience to use beeswax as a waterproofing wax for leather.
Get out your beeswax!
So now you know that beeswax is a good natural way to preserve all types of leather, meaning your leather gear will be safe 🙂 No one likes rough leather, right? I even heard of people using it on saddles, so this really is a versatile product that will bring new life to leather. To finish up, below is my preferred recipe for an all natural beeswax based leather wax. Thanks Shawn’s Workshop!
Homemade Beeswax Leather Wax Recipe
The recipe Shawn has come up with for his beeswax leather treatment is simple and natural, as follows;
2 oz Pine Tar
2 oz Neatsfoot Oil
Heat all ingredients and add melted pure beeswax until you get the desired consistency.