A Better Saddle Soap
This is a bit of a misnomer as soap is what you use with a bit of water to sud up loosen and then rinse away the dirt but as we all know water is the last thing you want a lot of on your leather and the latter traditional saddle soap bars contain mostly glycerine which is leaving a nice shiny finish and does protect but it is not doing much else of any good.
Glycerin is a humectant. It absorbs water from the air and thus attracts moisture to your skin. It was first discovered in 1779 by Swedish chemist, Karl Wilhelm Scheele, who named it “sweet oil.” In 1811, Michel Chevreul's, a Frenchman, named it glycerin, which comes from the Greek word glykys meaning sweet.
So in fact it will attract moisture to the leather – could be a reason why mould is a problem on unused items *!* Also this same ability to absorb water from the air does not help the life of any cotton stitching.
I have been following a lot of forums in my research and the frequent ‘best’ advice is to use various types of oils for deep conditioning (but many of these can contain other harmful or non-compatible ingredients ) and then using a glycerine type of saddle soap under various brand names which has the problems as described above.
Original saddle soaps were closer to the needs of the leather being derived from tallow, animal fats and oils, all of which has gone out of fashion and use for various reasons, cost , manufacture, public aversion, stability and preservative additives. The originals were closer to the meaning of the word ‘balm’ : “a fragrant cream or liquid used to heal or soothe the skin.” Fragrant may be in the view of the era – a smell of the stables is fragrant to the horseman but maybe not the house keeper and certainly a tallow based cleaner would not be called fragrant today.
Other recipes were used, and at the time of more exotic ingredients becoming available these recipes became a closely guarded secret. By their very nature of being exotic and expensive they were only used by the houses and stables of substance. Pickstones Leather Balm is one that has survived and has once again become a superior product for and of it’s time, as in this era we are more informed and concerned regarding natural products. Not only healing and restoring but protecting and with natural anti mould benefits.
For further information regarding either tack cleaning …………….
Or for specific cleaning of mouldy tack click here