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What Kind of Oil Do You Use on Cowboy Boots? | 4 Most Popular Types

First of all, cowboy boots are indeed expensive. Some of them are set with prices that can be up to thousands dollars or more, making them very pricey work boots or rather occasional footwear.

Their leather lifespan without properly being cleaned falls into 2-3 years.

While boots that receive regular and proper maintenance will expand up to 10-20 years with the same astonishing and clean looks. Save some money, bros! You will need it someday.

Besides, the truth is that it is not easy to find a pair of desired cowboy boots. So, why not spend a little penny and time to make your beloved boots last longer?

Regarding the effectiveness of many leather care products, oils rooted in animals such as mink oils, horse oils, or neatsfoot oils are still highly recognized.

Active ingredients in animal oils have a composition that is relatively similar to the sebum in animal skin, making them penetrate and absorb deeply to help soften the leather while providing a longer staying effect.

There is a lot of debate surrounding whether vegetable oils such as olive oil or coconut oil can be used to maintain cowboy boots or not. In this article, you will get the needed answer.

Cowboy Boots 1 video

Should I oil my cowboy boots?

Definitely, why not! There are several reasons and perfect times to oil your cowboy boots.

Softening the new leather

The first reason is to shorten the painful break-in period. People who wear cowboy boots are often encouraged to choose the right size or half a size smaller.

That way, this will help reduce ankle gaps and calf gaps for a better fit.

But it also means that the wearers will have to go through a literally painful break-in period, especially when the boots are made of full-grain leather.

Oiling your leather cowboy boots will soften the stiff material and save your feet from serious blisters, aching, and heel pains.

Providing a waterproof coat

The second reason is to provide a natural waterproof coat on the leather, helping to prevent wet feet and damp insoles.

Oil is already water-resistant itself. When oiling your boots, you are giving them great maintenance and a waterproof coat at the same time.

Besides, oils tend to stay longer and penetrate deeper into skin texture.

That means you don’t need to oil your boots as often as your boots already get protected and cared for longer.

Handling damaged leather

Treating worn-out damages and marks is a fantastic feature of leather oil which makes this product stand out beyond other wax and conditioners.

With liquid texture and animal-sebum-alike composition, oils, especially animal-sourced oils help moisture and restore old and crack leather very well.

On the other hand, oiling your leather can make the footwear last longer and keep them always looking new and healthy.

Some said the leather tends to darken after oiling, some haven’t experienced this issue.

So, we suggest doing a test on a small hidden area of the leather boot to check whether it will get darker or not. That way, no regret after all.

As a result, it turns out to be a perfect remedy to rescue crunchy and deep-wrinkled leather cowboy boots.

The perfect time to do this phrase is every 5-6 months of frequent use of your cowboy boots.

What kind of oil do you use on cowboy boots?

Cowboy boots can be made from either genuine leather or synthetic leather.

But I believe real leather is worth your intensive care rather than synthetic as this material can last very long with proper maintenance.

There are plenty of oils to use on leather cowboy boots, including both animal-sourced and vegetable-sourced types.

In this part, we will list out some of the most common oils that are used widely for this grumpy material.

Mink oil

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As its name suggests, mink oil is animal-sourced oil derived from mink fur or belly fats. It contains largely palmitoleic acid that has similar physical properties to animal/human sebum.

For that reason, mink oil possesses a very good effect on replenishing the lost oil on the texture since the leather gets drier more and more every day.

Especially when you work on horse riding where your boots are subject to several environmental impacts, causing them to quickly fade and harden the leather surface.

When you jump or climb often while wearing cowboy boots, the leather surface on the ankles, insteps, toes, and uppers of the boot tends to repeat folds again and over again that create deep wrinkles over time.

This oil will be likely to penetrate deeper under the texture and therefore, stay longer to erase deep wrinkles significantly.

Mink oil is one of the unique animal oils with more than 75% of its unsaturated fatty acid that greatly helps repair damaged and cracked leather.

So many people are amazed at the fantastic changes on their old and worn-out leather after brushing with mink oil.

Although the leather will get somewhat darker, its fresh, healthy, and buttery look is undeniable and very classy.

Some people said mink oil might rot the stitching on the cowboy boots. This may be because this oil is corrosive to the cotton threads that are used to sew boots.

But the good news is you can re-stitch the threads again. Besides, you also clean the stitches of cowboy boots more often.

That way, it will eliminate the chances the stitches will get broken due to oxidation.

Neatsfoot oil

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Do you know the word “neat” that comes from an old English word to call “cattle”?

Neatsfoot oil is produced from cattle shinbone and feet and turns out to be a special yellow oily liquid.

For a century ago, this oil was used for human dry skin treatment as a kind of topical conditioner.

Nowadays, people, especially cowboy boot lovers talk about the product as one of the very common traditional leather conditioners.

Quite similar to mink oil, neatsfoot oil also possesses likable physical properties that help absorb better under the leather fibers.

The oil can stay longer and quickly repair damages and cracks without too many brushes.

It gives a good level of moisture and preservation for both synthetic and genuine leather.

Besides, neatsfoot oil will not get frozen when temperatures get cooler, even when it is made from warm-blood animal fats.

So, you don’t have to worry when brushing the boots with the oil in wintertime.

However, there are a few consequences of using neatsfoot oil on leather products that you need to know.

Many have criticized the oil for its tendency of oxidation on cotton stitching.

This will be likely to occur in reality, so be careful to avoid dense stitching parts when applying neatsfoot oil.

The oil also darkens the brand-new leather cowboy boots. So, it is quite a good option for those who are fans of lighter shade leather.

Botanical oils

Many leather conditioner/wax products have combined animal oils and vegetable oil in their products to make a better effect on the worn-out leather.

But is it okay to use 100% pure botanical oils on leather cowboy boots?

The answer is yes. Some botanical oils such as macadamia nut oil and sea buckthorn oil possess the same source of palmitoleic acid just as quite the same as mink oil.

This acid fat can soak in the leather very well to nourish the skin fibers. However, these oils tend not to last long and disappear quickly after applying.

Many have debated whether other vegetable oils such as coconut oils and olive oils can work well to take care of the leather boots.

Coconut oil has a thicker texture than olive oil but both can give proper moisture effects on any type of leather.

Botanical oil will not darken the leather as much as animal oil does. These oils are also more available in the kitchen as home remedies for several uses.

Whenever your leather conditioners run out, you know you can have some alternative leather treatment in an emergency.

Leather oils

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In addition to natural oils like mink oil or botanical oils, some oils called “leather oil” are a type of oil mixed with many different substances.

This oil may include propolis oil, beeswax, natural preserving oils, etc. All of them are mixed by manufacturer and in some ways, they are perfect for caring for your leather cowboy boots.

The most effective features of leather oil are restoring your old cowboy boots, removing creases, repelling water, moisturizing dry cowboy boots, resisting scratches and cracks, softening cowboy boots, shortening the break-in period, etc.

From my experience, if you don’t want to spend too much time learning about the oils above to know what types of them are suitable for your boots and your needs, just picking leather oil, it contains everything you need!

Other questions

Can you use coconut oil on cowboy boots? 

Many debates have arisen about whether to use vegetable-sourced oils as a leather conditioner or not.

I firmly believe vegetable oils can’t compare to animal-sourced oils in moisturizing and maintaining cowboy boots.

However, coconut oil can be a good backup for leather maintenance in case you don’t have any animal-sourced oil at home when you need it the most.

Coconut oil has a relatively thick texture and is difficult to penetrate deeply under the leather texture.

Although, it also possesses some effects in moisturizing the leather fiber of the cowboy boots.

Some people say if your boots are cracked or wrinkled heavily, you should soften the leather with a mixture of water and vinegar solution with a 1:1 ratio at first as well as wash away dirt and mud before applying coconut oil.

One thing to keep in mind is that coconut oil will also darken the leather tone.

Sometimes, your leather gets faded and turns out lighter. When you give it moisture with oil, it tends to get back to the original color with a bit darker tone as the leather is already darkened when exposed to the light.

Besides, coconut oil can provide a moderate waterproof or water-resistant coating on the leather surface.

But this won’t last as long as animal-sourced oils. If you apply a proper amount of coconut oil on very dry genuine leather, the surface tends to soak in the liquid and quickly disappear.

So, you may need another wax or conditioner to lock the moisture for the leather. Overly applied oil will bring up a greasy feel and sometimes leftover residue when the leather meets cold temperatures.

Can you use baby oil on cowboy boots?

The answer is Yes, you can.

Baby oil is widely used for nurturing baby skin or human skin, therefore it possesses some great moisturizing effects after application.

Firstly, we should look at its ingredients to guess whether it can be used properly in leather boots.

This oil has 98% of mineral oil (which is petroleum-based). When it comes to liquid texture, many said it quickly absorbs downward with a proper amount of oil (not too much) then also quickly disappears.

So you don’t even have time to brush the leather to make it shine.

Due to this feature, be careful when coating the leather surface with this oil if you don’t want to leave oil marks or discoloration that are difficult to remove.

If you put too much baby oil on the leather, you probably get a pair of greasy boots that are soaked in oil.

Overall, you can apply a proper amount of baby oil to soften or moisturize the cracked leather.

But it is hard to say this product can give your leather cowboy boots a shining, polishing, and healthy look for long periods of time.

Anyway, it is also a good backup for leather conditioning as an emergency remedy.

Do cowboy boots need mink oil?

Yes, definitely! Mink oil is the best long historical leather conditioner for Americans for cowboy boots.

Mink oil with multiple texture options can give you many ways to nurture and polish your cowboy boots by combining them with other active substances.

Mink oil itself may not provide a glossy (or very little gloss) look. Your leather tends to look healthy, moisturized just like bringing up to a new life again.

By replenishing the lost oil deeper in the leather fibers of the boots, mink oil helps to treat cracked, wrinkled and super dried leather when exposed to heat, sunlight, and other environmental factors daily.

That way, your boots are lubricated to be durable and healthy without being greasy and sticky.

Mink oil also lasts quite long on leather fibers (at least for a few months), making it a great option for not-too-often periodic maintenance.

Depending on how often you wear your cowboy boots and how much abuse it can be to your boots, the perfect time to nurture the boots with mink oil may vary.

We suggest applying mink oil on the boots at least every 6 months in normal-abused conditions.

Keep in mind that mink oil can be rotten due to poor storage. It leads to bad smells that are very hard to remove.

Can I use olive oil on my cowboy boots?

Olive oil is also another sort of vegetable oil. This substance has a lighter texture than coconut oil so it will not go frozen when the temperature gets colder.

Yes, you can use olive oil on your cowboy boots.

Olive oil

Many boot makers have used this extra virgin olive oil to condition the leather after the molding and tooling process which makes the leather very dry and somewhat brittle.

Olive oil will give a light coat on the leather to moisture instantly.

Just like other vegetable-sourced oils, they will absorb faster in the fiber, then disappear.

So, the solution here is you need to apply little by little olive oil on the surface to figure out how much oil the leather needs.

Then proceed to apply one or two more coats every 6-7 hours to reach a healthy look as you wish.

Some said olive oil will literally darken the leather as much as mink oils or neatsfoot oil. So, it can be a good backup for leather care.

Olive oil will also not stay long on the leather. It is often used to soften the leather at first.

After that, we suggest ending up with a professional leather conditioner to make the effect last longer.

Wrapping it up

There are countless numbers of leather oil products on the market.

These are produced to adapt better with mixed formulas rather than using pure animal and vegetable oils.

Overall, mink oil has always retained its crown for being perfect leather oil to repair heavy leather damages and worn-out look.

But if you don’t have that product available at home, a quick and emergency remedy by vegetable oils such as coconut oils or olive oils can also be a great aid.

But keep in mind that these organic oils are not ideal options for long-term use due to its short-term maintainability.

You should only have them in very emergency cases.


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