If you own a good pair leather work boots or two, you have likely heard of or even considered using Sno Seal. It’s a well-known and reliable waterproof treatment for leather shoes that’s been around for decades, and it works. You can grab it at virtually any old-time shoe shop and or traditional sporting good store.
Then, there’s mink oil. This often all-natural shoe care product is exactly what it sounds like – the rendered fat of a mink. It’s used for much the same purpose as Sno Seal – waterproofing your boots so they’ll stand up better to the elements- but is also used for conditioning and preserving that leather.
But how do you know which one is right for your boots? What differences are there between the two, and when is it appropriate to use one over the other?
Sno-Seal: For Foolproof Waterproofing
Sno Seal is more of a wax. In fact, it is a wax – beeswax, with some all-natural additives thrown in there that we can’t quite figure out. It’s excellent at waterproofing boots and making sure no moisture can get through the leather itself, or the seams. To apply, you just heat it and the leather up a little bit, apply generously, wipe off excess and let dry. Done. It can be time consuming and you’ll probably have to reapply it every year or even twice a year if you wear them a lot in the winter, but the results of this beeswax waterproofer speak for themselves.
Downsides: Sno-Seal can dry leather out over time – the opposite of conditioning it. It also has the habit of darkening leathers quite a bit, often permanently.
Mink Oil: Better For Conditioning Leather
Mink Oil, as we’ve said, is made of all-natural mink oil. It’s GREAT at conditioning and moisturizing leather and uses the natural lanolin in the mink oil to do it all naturally. It’s super smooth and soft and enriches leather, as opposed to drying it out. Some mink oils will contain additives like silicone for easier application and better waterproofing.
With that said, while the natural waxes and oils will repel water, it’s not as good for waterproofing your boots. If your’e going to using your shoes in wet or muddy weather, Sno-Seal is probably a better bet. Use mink oil whenever your boots are looking a little shabby or too dried out, however, and they’ll soon start looking good as new.