Leather care: plain Glycerin instead of glycerin soap??
After quite an ordeal, I finally acquired a saddle that fits my horse and naturally I try to take very good care of it. When I first got it I did some research on leather care but there are so many differing opinions out there that it was very hard to form a conclusion. Information about leather care is surprisingly hard to come by for some reason. There doesn’t seem to be any straightforward, ‘right’ way to do it. :-| For a while now I've been using neat's foot oil (not the compound; pure neat's foot oil) because I read in a saddle fitting book that animal fats are best for leather. It made sense to me and I’m trying to play it safe.
However, I have been reading lately that glycerin is very good for leather too because it seals the oil in and makes it somewhat water resistant. I understand that you're supposed to use glycerin saddle soap and that the soap is very important for removing damaging dirt from the pores of the leather. I also understand that it's vital to wash all of the soap away after you use it because it's acidic and will ultimately damage the leather if you leave it on. I have some glycerin saddle soap (Leather New) that I have tried several times on my boots; all it does is burn my fingers (which makes me wonder why I'm putting it on the leather) and, after being washed off with water, leaves the leather stiff.
I was wondering if anyone has tried using plain glycerin? I thought that maybe if I was careful to apply it very sparingly it would have all of the benefits with none of the problems I've been having with saddle soap. I could just scrub more thoroughly to remove dirt. If it worked, I might not have to oil the somewhat cheap and very thirsty leather on my saddle so often. I could always try it on my trusty paddock boots first ;)
So, any input? I've really just pieced this together from what little I can glean from the internet, my saddle fitting book, and my own experimentation. I'm hoping that if someone has already tried this and had it go terribly wrong, I could at least know to avoid it. I really don’t have many horsey friends to ask, so I thought I’d see what the horse forum had to say.
Also, I know that we love our pictures on this forum so here's a bad one of my saddle just for fun. :lol:
I use glycerin soap only on english saddles. Done that for more years than I care to count. Pure glycerin is colorless. It is colored for saddles. You can use it either way.
I use glycerine bar saddle soap. My favourite is Carr Day Martin Belvoir Glycerine Saddle Soap Bar. I also like Hydrophane Glycerine Saddle Soap Bar and Feibing's Glycerine Saddle Soap Bar.
The first step, before using it, is to wipe down your tack using a sponge that has been wrung out in plain warm water, rinsing the sponge out frequently or as needed. You can fill up a pail with plain warm water to do this, changing the water if it seems to be getting too dirty before you are finished. This step cleans the dirt and sweat from your tack.
The second step is to apply the glycerine saddle soap to your tack. It is actually meant to be rubbed into the leather and to stay on it to condition and protect the leather. Make sure your tack is dry before applying it and also make sure your sponge is wrung out really well so that it is almost dry, then rub the sponge over the saddle soap a few times and apply it to your tack, making sure to rub it into the leather really well. Once you have finished applying the saddle soap to your tack you can use a cloth to wipe over the tack to remove any excess saddle soap and to "buff" the tack.
its odd to me that its burning your fingers, is it a bar that youre using or a liquid ?
Liquid glycerin is like hydrogen peroxide - once the bottle's been open for a while it doesn't work anymore. The bar type is better. I found this: What Is Glycerin?
If it's burning your fingers maybe it's too pure?
Wow, I am so glad that I finally asked this question. Who knew there was so much to know about glycerin?
HorsesAreMyPassion, thank you so much for the detailed instructions. It's interesting that everyone says to leave the soap on, I wonder if only some brands need to be washed off.
gypsygirl, I have a spray bottle of liquid Leather New and that is the only saddle soap I have tried.
ponyboy, Wow! Thank you for that link, it's fascinating. All of that information is incredibly helpful and I think I understand now why there are such differing opinions on using glycerin for leather, it has so many different properties!
I might actually want to avoid putting glycerin on my saddle if it is so hydroscopic because it is humid here as it is. I wonder why people had said that it makes things water resistant? :P I like to keep the saddle oiled but water might be pushing it. Still it's nice to know that everyone has been using glycerin saddle soap without any problems. I think I'll buy myself a bar now that I understand what it would be doing. Maybe some brands are Ph balanced.
Thanks for the information everybody!
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