For a vegetarian, I really like leather. In fact, I’d say I like leather a lot even for a meat eater. Especially for shoes. I really love leather shoes. And purses. And wallets. And boots… oh lordy. Especially boots. I have a boot problem (damn you, eBay!). I like to buy nice leather boots and then maintain them, rather than go out and buy a new pair every year after the previous crap pair falls to pieces and are so crap they cannot be repaired. Having a good cobbler is essential for when zippers go, heals wear away, and holes show up in soles (I like Conti’s). For more day-to-day care, waterproofing and homemade leather balm help maintain the leather.
Leather is, of course, hide from a (once living) animal, and just like our skin, it can dry out. Waterproofing sprays help protect the leather from the vicious wet/dry cycle that comes with winter wear, but eventually your boots are going to start to show some wear. They’ll look a little dusty and sad, usually down around the feet and ankles where they suffer the most abuse. That’s where this leather balm comes in.
It’s a simple recipe, basically just a modification of my massage bars. Whereas the massage bars are 1:1:1 beeswax, cocoa butter, and liquid oil, these are 1:1:2, giving the balm a slightly softer texture as opposed to being a very determinedly solid bar. This is still a balm, though; if you want more of a cream, I’d recommend a 1:1:3 ratio.
Once you’ve made the balm, massage it into your dried out leather boots with a rag. It’s easiest to apply while you’re wearing the boots. Watch the leather darken and come back to life with a beautiful shine. When you’re done, the leather will be beautifully soft and supple, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this earlier. Don’t overdo things, and be sure to wipe off any excess. Follow up with a waterproofing spray.
Homemade Leather Balm
25g/0.88oz cocoa butter
50g/1.76oz sweet almond oil (or other not-too-greasy liquid oil)
Melt everything together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour into a 125mL/4oz mason jar and let cool until solid, 20–30 minutes. Use whenever you like. Also makes a nice body balm!