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Neatsfoot Oil

Neatsfoot Oil

Neatsfoot oil is an oil popularly used to treat leather goods. The characteristics of this oil are such that it softens brittle leather and makes it supple. This oil is a main ingredient in leather polishes, etc.
Priya Johnson
Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil obtained from the calf bones and feet of cattle. The oil obtained is used for preservation, conditioning, and softening of materials like leather, wood, etc. Since ingredients in this oil are animal proteins instead of petroleum, it will soften the leather without causing it to deteriorate.

Neatsfoot oil unlike other oils does not solidify at room temperature, simply because it is extracted from the young legs of cattle, where the temperatures are lower. The best form of neatsfoot oil is the one obtained from the shin bones of calves and no additional oil is added to it.

Traditionally this oil was used to treat leather; to make it soft and pliant. The natural oils in leather begin to get depleted as the tanning process is underway. The natural oil depletion causes the leather to harden and become brittle. Neatsfoot oil when rubbed onto hard leather, seeps into the leather, darkens and softens it, thereby, restoring the lost sheen.

Moreover, saddlers also use this oil to rehydrate brittle leather because it's fast and effective in softening the leather saddle. It does not cause any damage to the linen stitching as other petroleum based products do. This oil is the main ingredient in leather polishes and is also used in the manufacture of lubricants and textile oils.

How to Use Neatsfoot Oil

One can either use raw neatsfoot oil or the sulfonated or bi-sulfated form of the oil. Its non-drying nature will only soften items it comes in contact with.

For Leather
Neatsfoot oil is great to preserve the sheen and suppleness of leather goods. Just dunk a small portion of a clean rag into the oil and rub the oil gently onto the leather product. The leather goods will become soft in a week or two. Besides increasing the shine, this oil also acts as a protective barrier and prevents moisture from ruining your leather goods. To tap this benefit, just rub some of this oil onto your shoes, jacket, hat, or bag (wait till the oil dries) before heading outside on a rainy day. The oil will protect the leather from the rains.

For Wood
Has your wooden furniture lost its sheen? Does it look dull and boring? Well, if yes, then neatsfoot oil is just the thing to brighten up your house. Just take a clean rag and dip it into some neatsfoot oil. Now, gently rub the oil onto the wooden furniture, wooden countertops, wooden doors, etc. Application of this oil on wooden products causes the wood to regain its lost sheen.

For the Skin
This oil can also be used as a moisturizer for the skin. Apply it as you would do with any other kind of moisturizer, although it is slightly more viscous as compared to other moisturizers. Apply it, let it dry, and then put on your clothes.

Neatsfoot oil's smell will last for a week after application, thus, if you want to take your bag without the oil's fragrance following you, you need a one week gap after application of the oil. Moreover, while applying this oil onto the saddle be careful not to use too much of the oil, as excess can over-soften the saddle, thereby making it sag and stretch. Also, never use it on suede goods, as it causes staining. Neatsfoot oil can be found at any hardware or pet supply store.