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Waterproofing Shoes
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Waterproofing Shoes

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When you wear in a new pair of shoes, think about waterproofing them. You want to spend special attention on the groove between the soles and the uppers. And the stitching. The downside of waterproofing is that the leather (or canvas) will not breath as well and be a bit more uncomfortable to wear in hot dry weather. Traditionally beeswax was used as an all-purpose water-resistant sealant. The general idea is to rub beeswax over all surfaces and cracks and crevices, and then use a hot-air drier or a candle to melt the wax into the seam and show. I have tried Sno-Seal with good results, but all of the commercial products work well. In the military black shoe polish is worked into the seams of combat books and "candled" to melt it in. Beeswax can be used on canvas as well as leather. Leather (gloves or jacket) is best treated with a product called Lexol, which has been around since the U.S. cavalry roamed the west on horses. I have used the commercial products and the silicone, however use of beeswax and silicone is not recommended.
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Wet shoes or sneakers should not be dried out near a fire, heat source, or in a drier. I know this is recommended on many sites. Nor is it a good idea to dry them in direct sunlight. In the sun in the shade. The best way is to dry them in a well-ventilated area under a fan, stuffing toilet tissue inside to blot up moisture, and replacing the toilet tissue with fresh dry tissue every thirty minutes or so. After two hours, remove all tissue and allow to ventilate. If you have a wooden shoe-tree in your size, you can use the shoe tree after two tissue changes. Then after an hour or so, air-dry. You can hasten up the drying, however the leather may harden and distort.  There is some argument about the idea for wearing them while they are wet. This, in fact is an old-time method of insuring the fit of military combat boots. You wet them and wear them as they dry. If you are walking around in the sun and have fresh dry socks to change two or three times, and the weather is not cold, this woks. The downside is you don't want to develop "trench foot". There is no "right way" to do this. Wet leather will dry and contract and become hard, and you don't need blisters in a life-and-death situation. Another military "trick" is to put tissue inside, let them dry for a half hour, and then wear them for a while with fresh socks (forcing the leather out to the contours of your foot) and then allow them to rest and air-dry. If you use too much heat the leather will harden and the shoe may become unwearable. That is the main teaching point. When dry, re-polish and re-apply waterproofing. Needless to say, having a spare pair of boots to wear while you are drying the first pair. helps a lot. Some boots, such as the military jungle boots, are designed to be submerged in a bucket of water and scrubbed with a coarse brush. If boots are full of mud, rinse them in a bucket of all mud before drying.
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