Did You Know?
Legend has it that fur-trapping Indians were the first to come across white fat under the fur of wild minks that surprisingly happened to soften their hands. Much later, ranch owners who raised minks for their fur also experienced the same velvety-feel delivered by the fat, and formulated it into an oil.
Mink oil is one of the commercially important animal-based oils, derived from the skin of minks. Chemically, this oil contains high amounts of palmitoleic acid (17%), a fatty acid found in human adipose tissues. Considering this, mink oil is extensively added in skin care products, formulated for dry skin treatments. The usage of mink oil for leather was first known to hunters, who applied it on leather shoes to make them waterproof and flexible. But, what is so special about mink oil and using it on leather? Scroll down to delve more on the extraction of this oil and leather cleaning by using mink oil.
What is Mink Oil?
There is a thick fatty acid deposition underneath the skin layer of minks, which is the main source for production of mink oil. Commercially, mink oil is extracted at the time of slaughtering minks for their valuable pelts. However, small-scale extraction is also done from live minks. The unique property of mink oil is attributed to the high percentage content of unsaturated fatty acids. In fact, more than 70 percent of the total fatty acid content is of unsaturated type. Unlike other vegetable and animal oils that become rancid over a period of time, mink oil remains in its original state for a longer period (nearly two years).
Properties of Mink Oil
When it comes to the uses of mink oil, leather treating and conditioning cannot be avoided. Read the labels of superior quality leather shoe creams, and you will find mink oil as one of the ingredients. The softening effect of mink oil is highly appreciated for increasing the flexibility of leather goods. Shoe creams containing mink oil are loaded with waterproof components to increase the life of shoes. You can purchase the best mink oil for leather care from shoe stores and other shops that sell leather-based products.
Why to Use Mink Oil on Leather Items
Most leather manufacturing companies use mink oil to make their products more supple. To be more precise, your leather items are already treated with mink oil during production. This is because, during leather treatment process, much of the animal oils are lost. So, over time, after constant usage of the leather goods, they become dry and often develop cracks on the surface. Repeated rubbing of the fibers quickens the deterioration process of the fibers. The outcome of all this is poor appearance of leather, which you would not like at any cost.
Using mink oil on leather clothing and goods lubricates the tough fibers and increases the durability. Loaded with fatty acids, it repels moisture and water, which are common elements for speeding up the fiber-decaying process. Thus, the primary benefit of using mink oil for leather jackets, or shoes is to supplement the lost oils, making them soft and flexible (to some extent). At the same time, it is never greasy or oily. Whether you are using mink oil for furniture or other leather goods, the tips are the same. You just have to follow the instructions mentioned in the leaflet of the product.
↪ Take a dry cloth and wipe the leather piece clean so that there is no dust, or dirt.
↪ Take a hair dryer and warm the leather a bit, as it will help in absorbing the oil.
↪ Then heat the mink oil, and dab a cloth, or sponge in the oil.
↪ Rub the leather gently with the sponge/cloth (soaked in oil) along all the corners, until it starts melting into the leather.
↪ Take one section at a time, and repeat the whole process till the entire area on the leather item is covered with oil.
↪ Wipe off any extra oil if it has got on to the buttons, laces, or soles if you are cleaning jackets, or boots.
↪ Keep it dry all night, and you can give one more coating the next day if required.
No doubt, the benefits of mink oil are noteworthy. However, it has certain drawbacks as well. For example, regular use of mink oil causes excess softening of leather, especially those that are chromium-treated. It is also not unusual to notice discoloration of leather after using mink oil repeatedly. In short, your main focus is to search for quality mink oil products, appropriate for your leather goods.