Leather has been around for centuries. Some of the oldest leather products date back to 3000 BC in the Roman culture. It was used to manufacture weapons and furniture. About 1000 years later, it was used to make shoes for women.
With the advancement of time and technology, different leather types are used to make shoes, upholstery, garments, automobile seats, etc. However, such a versatile fabric needs maintenance.
Leather is subjected to getting cracks and scratches over its surface. As it is not water-resistant in nature, the fabric can absorb moisture and get brittle over time. Oil and conditioning methods are used to mask or prevent this. But with so many options available in terms of oil, wearers often get confused between using mink oil and leather conditioner. If you are juggling between these two alternatives, refer to the following article and learn the difference.
What is Mink Oil?
Mink are carnivorous mammals coming from the family line of otters, weasels, and ferrets. Evidently, mink oil is obtained by harvesting mink hides. The upper and fatty layer is scraped from the skin and rendered at a high temperature.
Mink oil has been in the usage cycle since World War II. Initially, mink oil was used to supplement fur coats. With the passage of time, more and more uses of mink oil were discovered.
Besides being used on leather, mink oil is used in the field of medicine. It is also used in several cosmetic products like cream, eye shadow, lipsticks, moisturizers. Let us look at its usages in detail.
Uses of Mink Oil
- Firstly, it is an excellent oil choice for maintaining, treating, and conditioning all kinds of leather.
- In ancient America, it was used as a skin conditioner.
- It is used to make creams, body lotions, hair products,
- As mink oil has a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acid content, it retains leather’s moisture and suppleness.
- Lastly, mink oil is an essential component in fertilizers.
Besides retaining all the natural oils, mink oil is known to waterproof the leather material.
What is a Leather Conditioner?
A leather conditioner does exactly what it stands on- conditions the leather to make it shiny, healthy, and supple. It nourishes the fibers in the leather and retains its flexibility and cushion.
With time, leather can lose out on its natural oil and moisture. In order to extend its lifetime, conditioning is a must. It masks the cracks and faded color and brings out its shine and luster.
Leather conditioners are available as creams, oils, wax conditioners, etc.
Conditioning creams replenish the required oils and moisture in the leather without affecting its color. Conditioning oils soften the leather. Wax conditioners work on the surface and are not entirely absorbed by the material.
Uses of Leather Conditioner
- Leather conditioner is used to restore the quality of leather boots, furniture, etc.
- It lubricates the fabric and eliminates the possibility of severe damage.
- It protects the leather from severe and stubborn stains.
- You can make the leather waterproof by coating it with a leather conditioner.
Difference Between Mink Oil and Leather Conditioner
Now that we have a basic understanding of mink oil and leather conditioner let us study their differences.
But before we jump to that, certain similarities between the two are noteworthy, like the following:
- Both- mink oil and leather conditioner are for leather’s maintenance.
- They act as a protective layer over the fabric.
- They nourish the fibre and keeps them supple.
- Shine is restored by their usage.
The following are some of the fundamental and significant differences between mink oil and leather conditioner:
Mink oil is preferred to conditioner leather boots that undergo heavy and frequent wear, like military boots. These boots are exposed to more amount of dirt and dust.
Leather conditioners are used for the comparatively used boots a lesser number of times and not exposed to harmful external factors.
Mink oil is obtained from the fats extracted from mink pelts. It is rendered and refined at a high temperature. Moreover, it has a high amount of unsaturated fat.
The leather conditioner has ingredients like beeswax, tallow, or even mink oil. Many people believe in making homemade leather conditioners with vinegar and beeswax, and other necessary components. It contains little to no amount of unsaturated fat.
Mink oil stays longer on leather. Once you apply one coating, it will protect your leather boots for weeks.
The same is not the case with leather conditioners. You will have to apply it regularly to get the best results.
Mink oil has more waterproofing capabilities. It makes the leather resistant to water, moisture, and weather, thereby enhancing its capabilities.
Leather conditioner is mainly used for restoring the leather’s shine and suppleness. It might not make the fabric weather resistant.
Mink oil does not fade the color of the leather. This allows you to use it on light-colored leather.
On the other hand, leather conditioners can darken the leather. So, a patch test is recommended before its usage.
Clogging of the Pores
Mink oil tends to clog the pores of the leather.
A leather conditioner does not clog the pores of the fabric.
Suede Leather Usage
It is not advisable to use mink oil on suede leather as it could ruin the material’s integrity.
A leather conditioner is a safe option for suede leather.
Is Coconut Oil a Good Leather Conditioner?
Several leather conditioners available in the market can work wonderfully on leather, one of which is coconut oil.
The main selling point of coconut oil is that it is available everywhere. You do not have to spend extra dollars in getting them. Even if it is not available at home, you can get it from any supermarket.
Coconut oil helps in restoring the shine and suppleness of leather. As leather is not water-proof in its natural form, the moisture can be absorbed quickly, leading to the formation of cracks. These cracks can be eliminated by coating the material with coconut oil.
Before using coconut oil, you must know that as it is a type of leather conditioner, it can darken the leather. You can either conduct a patch test. If your shoes are made with light-shaded leather, steer clear of coconut oil.
When it comes to water-proofing, a layer or coating of coconut oil can make the fabric water-resistant but not for too long.
Hence, it can be concluded that even though coconut oil can add a touch of luster to your leather shoes, the cons overpower the pros. Unless you do not have any oils handy, you must go for other kinds of oil for leather.
Does Mink Oil Rot Stitching?
Mink oil is known to rot the stitching on leather boots. This was a common phenomenon in shoes with cotton stitching. But as most of the shoes are stitched with nylon threads, you need not worry about mink oil rotting your shoes’ hem.
However, while applying mink oil, ensure that you only use a thin layer over the fabric. If you need to apply more than one coating, keep enough gaps between the two coatings.
The bottom line
After much deliberation, we can easily conclude that mink oil and leather conditioner have their share of advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for long-term protection, go for mink oil. Moreover, if your shoes are light in color, choose mink oil. Contrarily, if shine is what you are going after, nothing is better than a premium leather conditioner.
Choose wisely and let your shoes be the brightest ones in the room!
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.