Old Saddlers Blend - Usage Instructions

Before you use this conditioner please read the following product advice and instructions thoroughly: If the leather conditioner is very cold it may be too firm for you to use easily, place the tub in hot water for a while to soften it up a bit to allow you to apply it, do not microwave it. Use a spoon or knife to get it out of the tub when you want to use it. I cut a lump out & rub it in my hands to melt it a bit, even rubbing a piece on the leather like a bit of soap. I will not add paraffin, petroleum or any other chemical to make it easier to apply, if you want a pure unadulterated product, this is it.

This product can darken lighter coloured leather, if in doubt try a test area first & allow it to dry completely before deciding whether to use.

Some people can be allergic to certain fats, if you are concerned you may react please use latex gloves or thin rubber gloves to apply this product. Very hard, dry, neglected leather may be too far gone to restore it. This conditioner is for veg tanned leather used in Saddlery. Not for suede or nubuck type leathers.

Keep it away from pets, they may try to eat it. NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. Store in a cool, dark, dry place.

Cleaning leather

If you have mould on your leather, please ask for further instructions before cleaning.

When I get any saddlery into my workshop that needs TLC as it's filthy dirty, covered in horse grease and hard I get a bucket of fairly warm water with washing up liquid in (2-3 teaspoons to 5 litres of water, you can also add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar to aid grease removal if you want to) and scrub the leather with a soft brush, sponge, or fingers. The soap/lemon gets the grease off as well as the dirt, then place it in clean warm water to rinse the soap off, hang it up until it's still damp but not soaking wet then apply the leather conditioner by following the instructions given below.

I never use glycerine saddle soap, the Ph is wrong for modern hides, it leaves black lumps on the leather we call “jockeys” which you have to scrape off with a blunt blade it's also a humectant which means it absorbs moisture from the surrounding air and encourages mould. Mild washing up liquid is better, just remember, if you use the washing up liquid method you are removing a lot of any existing fats from within the leather so you HAVE to replace it afterwards with a conditioner, if you don't it will go even harder and crack when dry.

Instructions For Use

When conditioning the leather, if you haven’t already had to clean it as instructed above then wipe it with a warm wet cloth (just warm water). By putting the water on first it acts as a medium that aids the penetration of the fats right into the fibres of the hide. Whilst it’s still wet/damp get a small amount of conditioner on your fingers, using the heat from your hand and your fingers, melt the conditioner a little. It’s by far the best way to apply the conditioner, it's a mucky job but stick at it .Rub it all over and massage it into the hide, using fingers and/or a cloth, then leave it to dry naturally in a dry room and not in any sunlight or near any artificial heat for at least 12 hours. The flesh side of the hide, which is the underneath of the hide, is far more porous than the grain side (which is the top shiny side). Try to imagine a funnel shape to the fibres with the wide open mouth end as the flesh side so allow a little more conditioner on the flesh side than the grain side. Remember, you need very little as it goes a long way. On very dry leather you may need a second coat after you have finished but it's better to do it in thin layers rather than slap loads on in one go as it just overloads the cells of the leather and you will be wasting it. It can only absorb so much in one go.

When it's dry, use a lint free cloth, I use old bath towels cut up, the bobbly bits of the towelling act like a polishing stone and this is where it gets hard work, you’ll need a lot of elbow grease!

The idea is to rub the hide fast and fairly hard, not too hard to scratch it, the friction heats up and melts any fats you have left on the hide (the white stuff) and gets it flowing further into the fibres to add to the already absorbed conditioner that you put on it 12 hours before.

Use a dry medium bristled nylon brush, such as a toothbrush or scrubbing brush, to rub any conditioner in the stitches, around buckles etc. Rub fast to melt the conditioner into the threads. It will help protect the stitching from the rain. Make sure the bristles of the brush you use are not too hard to scratch the surface of the leather.

Lastly, this where it looks like I am contradicting myself about saying not to use oil on hides as I do BUT I use cod liver oil, this is what you should use if you wish to give your leather a final dressing but it is not essential and this stage can be omitted. I wring a cotton cloth out in the cod liver oil so it’s almost dry and put a very LIGHT film on both sides of the hide, wiping off any surplus within a minute or two and then give it another gentle polish to buff it up with a bit of clean, dry bath towel, you are merely giving it a final dressing with the cod liver oil to finish off, you are NOT trying to condition or feed it, as you have already achieved that at this stage. It also gives the hide back its leathery smell, a good trick of the trade to know if you sell second hand saddlery or leather, people love the smell of leather and you are more likely to get a sale!

When completed you should have hide that is a good substance, full of fat and wax which is what it was designed for and it will have a nice bloom/shine to it, it should feel slightly moist/clammy but not sticky or greasy, if it is either you need to rub it more, it should feel heavier too. The conditioning will act as a rain barrier to help keep the wet out. Apply the product as and when the leather needs it, I recommend at least every few months. Use a good quality metal polish on any metalwork. As you are cleaning and conditioning also take the time to check for any faults that need attention, like broken loops (keepers), broken fittings, broken or frayed stitching.

An explanation of the conditioning of veg tanned leather

The true craft of the currier is to use old fashioned, natural fats, waxes and greases and to get them into the cells of the hide to nourish and keep it in good condition, but it’s hard work to do it thoroughly!

By using this product you will be replacing the fat that was once naturally in the hide when it was still living, you don't need all these polishes, preservatives, perfumes, dyes or spirits that are artificially added to some of the other commercial products to make them easier to use & nicer to look at. NEVER use JUST oil of any kind to try to condition leather, especially neatsfoot oil, in my many years of working in the trade in my honest opinion neatsfoot oil is simply the worst thing for modern leather, it makes the cells of the fibres go soggy, limp and it can weaken the leather cell structure and it provides no substance to the leather as it’s too thin/watery. Eventually Neastsfoot tends to oxidise the leather over time, turning it hard. You’ll always get someone who swears by neatsfoot oil but show them the difference between oiled leather and conditioned leather and they will see conditioner is far superior.