Friday, July 10, 2009

What Makes a Good Leather Conditioner?

Why should I condition leather? What does a leather conditioner do anyway?

These are common questions from consumers. Here's the deal: The primary goal of a leather conditioner is to replace lost moisture.

To understand the need for leather conditioning requires a little background. In the tanning process leather is infused with natural oils that reduce friction within the leather fiber bundles. This, in combination with milling (like massaging) the leather establishes a supple, soft leather. At the point of manufacture, these oils equal to about 25% of the total mass of leather.

Here's the rub: The oils are volatile. This means they evaporate. The rate of evaporation depends on variables like heat and humidity. In warm, dry regions like the desert southwest of the United States, leather will lose its moisture content much more rapidly than in the cooler and more humid coastal regions. So with regular conditioning you prolong the life of the leather by maintaining the appropriate moisture content. This all presumes the conditioner has the correct chemical engineering.

As professional leather repair and restoration specialists, clients contract with us to clean and condition their leather. There are a zillion leather conditioners on the market. We tested dozens of conditioners seeking the one that would perform the best. They range from watered down versions of neatsfoot oil, to greasy gloppy Vaseline like products, to stinky, sticky, gooey pastes. We found products where the pH was completely out of whack actually shortening the life of leather. We discovered a lot of nonsense claims like - made from secret formulas handed down from Norwegian antiquity, or, has UVX-15 added, whatever that is. This was not working for us. In the end, we needed to be in control of quality and performance not overwhelmed by hype. Like an earlier post for leather cleaners, we knew the attributes of what we wanted in a leather conditioner so we developed a wish list and turned it over to our chemists. For Professional grade performance a leather conditioner must include:

--- Quality ingredients
--- Cream like consistency
--- pH balanced for leather
--- Good tactile presentation
--- Non-darkening
--- Protective resin
--- Pleasant "new leather" scent
--- Non-greasy formulation

Our chemists were on a mission to visit tanneries, talk with the folks at the tanners council, even dialogue with the leather preservation and conservation specialists at the Smithsonian. We learned who are the best chemical supply companies that support the leather tanning industry in the USA and secured lots of sample ingredients from them. Then the testing began.

Through this effort SG - 25, our leading leather care product was created. Besides the finest ingredients, what makes this product different than anything else on the market are two unique twists. They are the addition of a protection element and the addition of an anti-bacterial/anti-virus agent.

We understand usage patterns of leather in cars and furniture as we see how people use their leather products in our leather repair and restoration business. There is a lot of abrasion wear, especially in automobiles as the driver slides across the seat when he/she enters or exists. For long term wear resistance, we wanted a protective coating to be part of the conditioning process. So SG - 25 not only conditions leather with added moisture content, but also builds a protective clear coat.

Furthermore, in active household environments with children and pets, we wanted a product that dis-allowed the development of bacteria on the leather. So we added the anti-bacterial component.

We also wanted a product that would be easy to apply, not feel greasy or sticky, be pH balanced with leather and do what it supposed to in adding the appropriate replenishing oils back into the hide. SG - 25 has all of these attributes. It is available through our Hayward, CA leather restoration studio as well as both of our web-sites (advleather and DIYLeatherSolutions) without a lot of fanfare or marketing hype. Both consumers and professional technicians that use it have reported to us a steady stream of glowing commentary.

Perhaps it is time to pump up the marketing engine and let the world know about the best-of-the-best leather conditioner available - It is our own Advanced Leather Solutions' SG - 25.

Copyright 2009, Kevin Gillan

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