Plow truck drivers, oil field workers, ski patrollers -- there are many workers that require durable waterproof equipment in the winter.
Many of my friends with these rugged outdoor jobs have told me the secret to waterproofing your leather gear is a low cost product that has been around forever, SNO-SEAL.
SNO-SEAL is a leather protecting compound made of Beeswax and a light solvent, packaged in a 7 Oz. can.
I bought a can online from Wal-Mart, read the instructions, and decided to try it out.
Clean your leather using a mild soap and let dry.
Warm up your gloves in the oven on low heat. If your oven does not have a low temp setting, you can use a hair dryer, heat gun, floor heater vent, or leave the items in the sun.
The goal is to get the item up to 120°F, max. Do not heat beyond comfortable handling temperature.
Open up the can of SNO-SEAL, get a toothbrush, a rag, and put down some paper towels.
Rub SNO-SEAL into leather liberally. The warm leather will melt the SNO-SEAL and draw it deep into the pores and fibers of the leather. Try to avoid any non-leather parts.
Apply as much SNO-SEAL as the leather will absorb, using the toothbrush. Remove excess wax with a rag and buff with a brush for shine.
One thing to keep in mind: SNO-SEAL will slightly darken leather, so make sure you are comfortable with this before applying. Especially if the item has already been faded by the spring sun.
I found it was helpful to set up a system where each item was warmed then taken out of the oven to apply the SNO-SEAL.
The surface will start out shiny then turn to a more matte finish over time.
I tested the gloves and boots by checking if water beaded up -- it works great. I even submerged the boots in a stream and they repel water better than when new.
SNO-SEAL definitely changed the look of my gloves and boots, but the waterproofing and protection is worth it. I would definitely do it again and plan to re-apply next winter if needed.
HOW IT WORKS
From the manufacturer:
“The magic of Sno-Seal is that AFTER application it has a melt point of 155F so that even on the hottest day it does not migrate through the leather. It STAYS in the top surface of the leather, where it is needed for waterproofness, so it does not require frequent reapplication. Application is only possible because of a temporary solvent that lowers the melt point to 105F and then evaporates completely. Preheating leather to 110F to 125F causes Sno-Seal to melt instantly when it touches the surface of the leather so that it can easily penetrate."