How To Waterproof Your Boots
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Waterproof Your Boots

How To Waterproof Your Boots

Not only is it important to keep your powder dry, but keep your feet dry. Wet feet from leaky boots will quickly lead to big problems with your health and mobility. One preventative measure is to maintain your boots and keep them waterproof.

If your boot’s manufacturer recommends a product for waterproofing, use this if at all possible. If not, use beeswax on all leather boots. For combination material or synthetic boots, use a water-based wax waterproofer that is designed specifically for the material you are waterproofing.

Use beeswax to waterproof your leather boots or shoes. Beeswax can be found at a craft stores, Walmart, or other stores.

One popular brand of beeswax for waterproofing is Sno Seal.

 

Instructions

Remove any debris or clumps of dirt from your boots with a dry towel. Your boots must be clean.

Then, using a circular motion, rub the beeswax (Sno Seal) into your boots with a clean, soft cloth. An old cotton T-shirt works well.

TIP: It helps to warm up your boots first so the beeswax absorbs more readily.

Apply a thick coat of the wax and be sure the boots are covered completely, paying special attention to the toe and heel.

Set the boots in a dry location until no longer tacky or wet to the touch, or overnight to allow the beeswax to penetrate the leather completely.

In the morning, remove any excess wax with a cloth.

The beeswax creates a protective coating that should last approximately a year.

For the most effective waterproofing, be sure to get ample product into the seam area where the sole meets the boot. Use a toothbrush, q-tip or soft scrub brush to work the product into the seam.

Note: Even if you have purchased a pair of “waterproof boots,” most recommend that you waterproof them yourself before wearing, because this factory waterproofing wears off quickly. Each time you clean the boots, reapply a waterproof seal.

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21 Comments

  1. mink oil is another thing to waterproof boots. That’s what they use in the military in the 70’s when my roommate was in the marine corp

  2. I wonder if oilng your boots means they won’t breath as well in every day use and cause your feet to sweat and feel damp.

    1. That is an interesting question, and good one to think about… I suspect that under normal circumstances that this would not be an issue, assuming proper socks to absorb sweat. My instinct tells me that a leather boot would not breath much anyway, it’s just that applying beeswax (or other proper waterproofer) will keep water from eventually oozing through. If you held a leather belt (or the leather of your leather boot) to your mouth and tried to blow air through it (breathe), it would not be possible. So by the same logic, I believe that is a non-issue regarding the breathe-ability of the leather boot, or lack thereof, to be an issue. just my 2 cents…

      Any other opinions on this question?

      1. According to backpacking resources such as Backpacker.com, leather does indeed allow perspiration to pass through. I too have concerns that applying a waterproofer would be like wearing plastic shoes (e.g. breathes like a corpse).

        1. That is a valid concern, and one that may depend on the intended majority use of the boots (in wet terrain vs. mostly dry terrain). I suppose that you could have more than one pair (a recommendation anyway) with one treated and the other not…

    2. No your feet will breath when you use mink oil,plus it has an antibacterial and anti fungal property so it naturaly preserves the boots!I dont like to use bees wax or any type of wax for two reasons,One is I feel it wont let your feet breath and two is as far as im concerned it will intervere with good qualty oil penetrating into the leather as it should!Put your oven on very low just warm then warm boots then apply oil!Be sure to do in many times so it penetrates!Make sure you get the stitching very well especially where it is on side of boot near the sole and get sole seam very good aswell and dont wipe off excess as they usually say warm it up again pull out of oven put to one side and wipe with hand alot a day or two later!Then you can wipe off the excess!I do that with my boots and the water beads right off them and my feet are bone dry even if I walk in a couple inches of water or very wet snow or rain im imprssed cuase the leather just bead the water right off with now wax and my feet breath!

    1. Agreed, nothing is better than sno-seal. I also have been using it since the 1970s and swear by it. I live in Michigan and you need water proofing. Beeswax, mink oil, bear grease, I’ve tried them all. Sno-seal is best.

  3. I think that we would all like a pair of no-leak boots. I have ditched the full leather boot for a lighter hybrid (leather/cordura and Gore-Tex) I have NIKWAX (but haven’t needed to use it yet) and was told it is perfect for waterproofing when needed… I would rather deal with moisture from the inside of a boot rather than the outside! I also find it easy to switch out a pair of socks, add some powder, and keep moving. It is a pain when your footwear lets you down, and you have to dry them out. BTW I once used a clear silicone caulk to plug a leaking seam in a pair of my favorite (well used and comfy leather) boots. It lasted for about 4 tromps in the woods, then a friend suggested some super glue. I can’t report how well it works (it looks ok) since I have broken in a newer pair of boots, and the old ones are just a backup.

  4. Hi
    I’ve used a beeswax based wax to waterproof 2 new pairs of leather ankle boots (dr martens). One pair have been fine when I rubbed them with a soft cotton cloth after wax application had dried, but the other pair started to give the appearance of cracking when I started to rub them with same cloth. Both boots had been left for same period of time (approx 24 – 36 hours) to dry and were both dry/not too tacky to touch after this time.

    Can anyone suggest how to clean the wax off the boots so I can start again?

    Many thanks
    B

    1. B, don’t know if this would work with bees wax, but it does with a great number of things.

      Let boots and beeswax be at room temp. (try on small area). Take your cloth and re apply beeswax to small area. rub hard immediately. the beeswax on boots might soften with re application, and be able to rub off.

      (for example, if nailpolish is applied, and no remover available, can re apply nail polish, rub hard, and old polish with dissolve.

    2. Hi, no need to remove excess bees wax. Either wear them in dry conditions which will warm them and allow the leather to absorb the wax or warm them GENTLY with a hair dryer or place them over night above hot water cylinder.

      You actually want the sno seal to be IN the leather, not just on it. Bee’s wax actually preserves leather. Neatsfoot oil will cause it to rot..

      My 2cents.

  5. You have to be careful. Animal oils (like neesfoot and mink) will significantly soften the leather. This may be what you like, many work boots are worn “floppy” whereas this is not what you want in a hiking boot. Snosneal is a great product, but, be forewarned, if snoseal is placed on modern leather, the boot generally cannot be resoled. Do your research before putting anything on your boots. Generally the manufacturers directions are best.

  6. To get the SnowSeal/ bees wax into the leather, preheat oven to 200 degrees, turn oven off and put boots inside for 15 minuts, remove one at a time and apply SnowSeal, as much as will absorb. The product melts instantly and soaks into the leather. After application let cure for 24 hours buff if desired.

  7. Sno-Seal’s website says to heat up the boots first (oven at 125, heat lamp, hot air register, hair dryer), then rub the bees wax (that’s largely what sno-seal is) in to the warm leather. This way it will absorb into the leather right away. This is from the site:

    Solvents evaporate toward a source of heat. So if Sno-Seal is applied and then heated, most of the solvent evaporates toward the hair dryer leaving the wax on top of the leather. On preheated boots, the solvent evaporates into the warm leather drawing the wax in with it.

  8. Sno Seal, Silicone, and hand lotion. Nothing protects leather better than bees wax. Pliable leather coated with bees wax has been found in Egyptian tombs. Make your first coat with Sno Seal (bees wax). Use rag with a little hand lotion to polish out any excess. Let dry then spray a top coat of silicone. End product is shiny, long lasting, non-sticky boots that allow you to walk through a stream and keep your feet dry.

  9. If your in a bind and don’t have access to the beezewx, SnoSeal, etc listed above, regular candle wax will work as well…it may not be removed easily or look as nice and neat but it’s better then your feet falling off from freezer burn!! :-) Another ‘short handed’/ temp fix is a can of heavy spray starch with stain resistance …it is no substitute for the other more durable methods described in the above replies but in a pinche it will make due!!

  10. I read on another site that you could use a new toilet wax ring?
    What are the opinions on that?
    Thanks!
    Wendy

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