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Leather Care: Who Knows The Secret Recipe?  RSS feed

 
Bert de Weert
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Hi people,
I am getting into preserving old skills, crafts, tools and also products. So far the introduction.

Here's the deal:

My dad has a small tin that was passed down all the way from my great-great grandfather and his family, who owned a self-sufficient farm at the time that was still possible in The Netherlands.
In the tin is a wax-like, fatty, dark yellow (almost brown) substance with a rather interesting smell, unlike anything I've smelled before. All the generations who owned this tin used it to maintian leather, something
it does extraordinarily well. My dad once told me it was made with lots of stuff, including pig lard and human urine, but he's not sure.

My question now is: Does anybody here at permies recognise, or even have experience or knowledge with using this mysterious substance? I would like to set up a recipe so I can re-make it, because the tin is finally running out. It would be an absolute shame if the recipe were to be lost. I have never had better leather care products.

Your knowledge and experience is well needed and appreciated,

Bert
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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I wonder if it was dubbin?

Neatsfoot oil was another favourite treatment for saddles and bridles in the UK.

Edit - just found this How do I make home made dubbin?
 
R Scott
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Send it for chemical analysis? There are a zillion recipes and many were prized secrets that went to the grave long ago.

If it is that old it may have whale oil or seal blubber or some other unobtainium in today's world.

I know how you feel. I do have some of my grandpa's recipes, but they still don't work because the ingredients are now processed differently.
 
Peter Ellis
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the answer to this one is, some one back down your family line, or someone that they knew. Homemade recipes for this sort of thing are everywhere and widely varied. Odds are a chemical analysis would not help much, because it would not tell you where the chemical compounds came from and what makes the stuff work is more than just the measurable chemical components.

I know a story about a fellow who sold his secret leather care compound for several dollars an ounce, and after he passed on, it came out through his wife that he was rebottling olive oil. People loved what his stuff did for their leather products and were happy to pay his price. But it was just olive oil...

Some products include petrochemicals, some do not. Some leather people swear by neatsfoot oil, others tell you it rots your leather.

Even if I saw, smelled and handled your tin of goop, I probably could not come close to guessing the recipe, there are just too many possibilities and too many subtleties.
 
Bert de Weert
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Thank you all for replying! I think it is indeed true that every farmer had his own recipe, I think it was homemade so it doesn't contain whale or seal as far as i'm concerned.
I will try asking around in the older generation of the family. even though they are uninterested in me and dementing and change the subject as soon as I start about something, they completely live up as soon as I start about the old days. Thank you all again for your feedback, it is well appreciated.

Bert
 
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