Can't find Sno-Seal (beeswax) in the DFW area anymore. REI, nor any camping/sports stores carry anything but silicone based products now. I like the conditioning nature of beeswax based treatments vs. silicone and have used Sno-Seal for years on all my leather shoes. What's the deal??
It is probably going the way of the wool-filled sleeping bag; it works but there may be better products. I have never liked the silicone boot treatments, they just don't seem to be a "real" treatment. I always liked the ritual of Snow Sealing my boots before a climb. I especially liked the aroma. Of course, I knew Ome Daiber casually and the original Snow Seal was sold under his name. It was made in Seattle, where I lived, and was used on climbing, logging, hiking and ski boots. So, loyalty to a regional product and to a climbing acquaintance was one reason I used it, the other reason I used it was because it worked. You can still get it at Amazon BTW.
The ascendency of plastic ski and climbing boots and fabric hiking boots and shoes may be the main reason for its decline though.
That's great! I took an alpine travel course taught by Ome at the "U", where he shared the secret of warming the boots in the oven so the treatment would penetrate the leather. Depending on the type of welt, it could be a real challenge to seal the area along the sole and IIRC there was a second product for just that when it was an issue with a particular boot.
Leathers are tanned in so many different ways now my suspicion is the fraction of leather footwear that Sno Seal works with is a small one. The brand is now owned by a company called Atsko, who seem to sell a one-quart can for that lifetime supply (several lifetimes).
Probably right about the fabric/plastic boots reducing the types of shoes Sno-Seal will seal.....but here in Texas, we wear western (cowboy) boots and nothing rejuvenates and protects leather better than a beeswax based sealant like Sno-Seal. A wash with saddle soap, then a rubdown with SS (i like the smell too!) brings boots back to new again. I remember back in the early '70's, an article in The American Rifleman gave instructions on making your own beeswax boot waterproofer that looked and smelled the same as Sno-Seal. Even the ingredients are hard to come by now. Beeswax, neatsfoot oil, a dab of paint thinner as a carrier. I typically slather on the Sno-Seal and then follow up with a hair dryer and it soaks right in. I know I can mail order the stuff. Just wanted to buy some locally. A can lasts a few years.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I bought my most recent jar of SnoSeal about 6 years ago and still have some left--it's still good. I no longer wear leather hiking boots, but I have other leather items (street shoes, purse, belts) of leather and find that SnoSeal is one of the best preservatives to keep the leather in shape longer. I've discovered that many Civil War reenactors (who have lots of leather gear) swear by it. The ingredients are all "period correct" for the 1860s.
Edited by OregonMouse (06/24/1402:11 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
I bought my most recent jar of SnoSeal about 6 years ago and still have some left--it's still good.
Ha! That's part of the problem too....it lasts for so dang long. I've probably had 2 jars of it in 15 years, the second jar when they converted to plastic (one before it was glass). It does make any leather look new again and stay that way for a long time. I was in Academy sports yesterday and noticed about 10 different kinds of glop for shoes, including a Sno-Seal knockoff. Sno-Seal and Nikwax used to corner the conditioner markets....no stores near me carried either one.
I too don't hike in leather boots anymore but my trail work boots, western boots, casual shoes, are all leather.
The MSDS says Sno-Seal is 35% Wax (beeswax) and 65% mineral spirits. That should be easy enough!
Loc: Central Michigan
Have you tried mink oil yet? I use it on my OLD Timberlines and it works flawlessly. Those boots have oogles of miles on them and they don't leak a drop. That's why they are going back on the trail with me. My new pair let me down in a big way last weekend. Sat around camp all day Saturday trying to dry my boots over a fire in the rain.
Yes, I use mink oil when I want to soften leather. That's the difference between wax based sno-seal and oil based mink oil. Beeswax doesn't soften leather you don't want softened. Good stuff though for what it's made for.
After doing some searches, I'm finding all sorts of leather waterproofing recipes and methods. Even Johnson's floor paste wax is used by lots of folks. Heck, why not? It's got all the right ingredients. I'll probably just start making my own "sno-seal" type stuff since there is really not much to it.
Used Sno-seal extensively (learned about it when my ship was in Bremerton (had contact with Mountaneers on Hurricane Ridge). Worked very well for me for almost thirty years (three jars, I think) always on cheap boots. Later I got a pair of Limmers, and they specified Mink Oil. It worked very well for the 20 years that I used those boots. I think I could still use them if I wanted to pack the weight. Both products work very well.
Incidentally, I never met Daiber, but his name must have come up at least five times in that Hurricane Ridge conversation (which lasted maybe three minutes).
Another reflection: Returned to Hurricane Ridge a few years ago. The road is now paved and one can drive almost to the very top and the setting is grand. They've done a wonderful job. But all the civilization does take a little something away from the grandeur.
So........after calling the makers of Sno-Seal directly, asking for a retailer in my area, I find that 1) they are slightly confused about their own product and it's naming. It could be called "Penguin Sno-Seal", which I found at Gander Mountain, but it was thin silicone spray and not what I wanted. 2)REI doesn't carry it anymore. 3)The stuff doesn't exist in my area!!!
So.........I decided to make my own. It works great and even better than the real stuff. Recipe: 1 Part white beeswax. (found a 1lb. block at Hobby Lobby) .5 part boiled linseed oil. (Home Depot or Walmart) .5 part paint thinner. Sometimes folks use turpentine but the original Sno-seal uses mineral spirits, which is paint thinner mostly.
Melt wax in a mason jar sitting in boiling water. Mason jars have graduations on the side and make mixing a cinch. Once melted, stir in the other ingredients. Some wax will solidify when the cold ingredients hit it, but keep stirring it will go crystal clear. Let cool and your are done. The linseed oil is an addition that original Sno-seal doesn't have. It darkens leather slightly but makes the wax coating harder and tougher. You can adjust the mineral spirits to your liking as that component is what dictates the consistency of the paste. It evaporates away once applied. My quest is over!
It's just flat not sold here in the DFW area anymore. No worries. I make my own now. In fact, adding a bit in boiled linseed oil brings a shine to the article if you want it. Otherwise, the stuff is 1 third beeswax, 2 thirds mineral spirits according to the MDSS.