Leather is very well-suited for ski gloves because of its many ideal natural properties. It is resistant to wear and tear, is breathable and contains natural air pockets in the fiber structure that provide good insulating qualities. With proper care, leather can stay in great condition for a lifetime. But be careful of the advice you may receive. Some of the more common myths concerning leather care are to use sunscreen (which does not protect the leather from effects of sunlight), butter (stains), olive oil (too much fat content) and car polish (dries out leather). Please use products specifically developed for leather care.
There are many leather care brands and products in the market. Many of these products have been around for over a century, initially developed to keep leather boots in good shape and water resistant during mountaineering expeditions. Collonil and Tierowa are two such brands, both from Germany and used for many of the major expeditions of the early 20th century. Popular domestic brands include Sno-Seal, Obenauf's and Nikwax.
The most commonly used leather products for gloves are leather cleaners, leather conditioners and leather waterproofing treatments.
Here are a few tips to get you started
Only use high quality treatments and carefully follow the provided instructions for use.
Avoid treatments that can impact the breathability of the leather. Many silicone based products can greatly impact the breathability of leather because silicone can clog leather’s natural pores.
Avoid aerosol sprays. They are a less effective applicator for leather treatment and contain propellants that are typically harmful to the environment.
When using a leather cleaner (like a leather cleaning foam), apply it to a cloth or sponge first, then gently massage it in. A leather eraser may help to clean more resistant stains or spots. Follow this with an application of waterproofing treatment.
Waterproofing treatments with natural ingredients can be very effective when applied properly. Beeswax and carnauba wax have been used to waterproof leather since the late 1800s.
Many products suitable for smooth leather are not suitable for suede. For the treatment of suede, be careful to use product specifically for this type of leather.
Application Tips for SNO-SEAL Original Beeswax Waterproofing for Leather
The basic instructions for Sno-Seal are quite simple and after a few applications you will develop your own preferences and techniques. These instructions are for those who want to understand how it works and get great results on the first try.
The magic of Sno-Seal is that AFTER application it has a melt point of 155 F so that even if exposed to excessive heat, the treatment does not migrate through the leather. It STAYS in the top surface of the leather, where it is needed for waterproofness, so frequent reapplication is not required.
Application is only possible due to a temporary solvent that lowers the melt point to 105F, then evaporates completely. This is why Sno-Seal hardens during storage if the container is not re-sealed.
After your Chaval gloves have been activated, are generating heat and are warm, Sno-Seal applied to the leather will melt and more easily penetrate the leather’s surface. There is a subtle, but very important difference between putting Sno-Seal on leather and then heating it, vs. putting it on leather that is already warm. Solvents evaporate towards a source of heat. So if Sno-Seal is applied to your Chaval gloves after the heating system has been running, the solvent evaporates into the warm glove leather, drawing the wax in with it.
WARNING: Do not to apply any external heat. Using an external heat source can permanently damage the heating system inside your Chaval gloves and possibly render your gloves unsafe for use.
The surface of your gloves will need to be warm, about 105 deg F. Activate the heating system in your Chaval gloves and allow them to sit undisturbed for 1-2 hours so the warmth migrates to the surface of the leather shell. If the surface of the leather is not sufficiently warm, you may need to use a sunny window or the warm air from central heat to get the leather warm but not hot, which could damage the heating system inside your Chaval gloves. Now apply a small amount of Sno-Seal to each glove in turn. A little goes a long way. By the time you get back to the first glove, it will have a dull appearance indicating that all of the wax was absorbed. Add more Sno-Seal in very small amounts to each glove in the same order. When you get back to the first you may find areas that are shiny, indication that there is more wax than the leather could absorb. Add a bit more Sno-Seal to the dull areas of each glove until they remain shiny for a few minutes. This will leave a little excess on the surface. This is ideal for maximum resistance to abrasion from snow. If a more finished look is desired you can buff off the excess with a towel.
WARNING: Applying Sno-Seal to the non-leather areas of the glove is not recommended. Sno-Seal will change the texture and absorbency of suede, decreasing its effectiveness as an absorbent wipe.