8 Simple Difference Between Leather Conditioner & Mink Oil

Caring for and maintaining leather items is a big part of owning a leather item. From time to time, you’ll want to oil your leather items to restore their beauty and luxurious look after wearing it for a while.

In this article, I have researched the difference between two types of oils for leather ie. conditioner and mink oil) to help to choose which one to use and when.

So, what is the difference between a leather conditioner and mink oil? One of the primary differences between the leather conditioner and mink oil is that the leather conditioner is the regular conditioner you’ll use for leather items with minimal exposure to dirt while the mink oil is made for leather items that see a lot of wear, dirt, and grease.

Another key difference is that although both are great oiling solutions for leather, mink oil when used severely darkens the leather item while leather conditioners do not.

There’s more to the differences other than leather conditioners and mink oils’ effect on the leather. Keep reading to find out more about the differences between the two types of leather oils.

What is Mink Oil?

Mink oil is an oil that is generally used for both cosmetic and medical products. Mink oil is a by-product of the fur farming industry and is particularly obtained from the fats on the abdomen of a mink.

Because of its unique quality of palmitoleic acid, the mink oil is used for treating, conditioning, and preserving almost all kinds of leather.

Related Article: Is Mink Oil Good For Leather? (Here’s All You Need to Know!)

Its ingredients are highly effective and safe that you can even use it as a hair product especially if you have dreadlocks on.

The mink oil has great resistance to spoilage and damage and will not go rancid than most other animal and vegetable oils.

With leather being a super permeable material, it has a high ability to soak oil. So feeding leather the right kind of oil is vital to the nourishment and suppleness of the leather item.

The application of mink oil on leather is great as it has been tested and proven to preserve and finish finished and unfinished leather in a very good way.

You can check out a detailed article I wrote earlier that delves deeper into what mink oil does for leather.

There are so many products out there that claim the title of the best mink oil but I find this particular mink oil to be great. You can check it out on Amazon!

Uses of Mink Oil

The first people to discover the outstanding benefits of mink oil were fur trappers who used it for making leather boots water-resistant, luster, and flexible.

Mink oil is organic, making it great for all types of leather such as full-grained, top-grain, corrected leather, oil-tanned leather, and many other types with the exception of suede leather.

Mink oil’s primary role on leather items is to preserve it, waterproof it and guard it against mold, mildew, salt, external abrasions, snow, etc.

A regular oiling routine using mink oil keeps leather items in top-notch condition so that you can walk confidently rain or shine with no thoughts for unnecessary seasonal rests.

The downside to using mink oil is that it darkens leather items about two to three shades because it clogs the pores.

By doing so, mink oil creates a more water-resistant and weather-resistant leather.

This makes mink oil ideal for dark-colored and heavy-duty leather items like military boots, and other types of work boots.

It is also best for people who care for their leather items resistance to tough weather and careless about how the leather items patina or luster.

What is a Leather Conditioner

A leather conditioner is designed to nourish the natural fibers in the leather to restore or maintain good flexibility.

When leather is left to lose its natural oils and moisture, it becomes stiff and eventually cracks.

So as a leather user, your number one goal is to ensure your leather never dries up leading.

The leather conditioner is commonly used from time to time to help avoid dryness and cracks.

Leather conditioners come in different forms and they are conditioning oils, conditioning creams, and wax conditioners.

1. The conditioning oils are used to soften the leather. There are a couple of examples of conditioning oils like the lanolin, neatsfoot oil, etc.

Choosing the wrong type of conditioning oils can be very harmful as they will make your leather item sticky. If you’re interested, you can look up this conditioning oil here on Amazon!

2. Conditioning creams are also a great class of leather conditioners that nourish and moisturize the leather deeply.

The great thing about conditioning creams is that they cause minimal color change and keeps the leather fibers supple. If you’re interested, you’d want to check out this leather conditioning cream here on Amazon!

3. Last but not leather is the wax conditioner type. Wax conditioners don’t penetrate deeply to nourish the fibers but what it’s good for is that it provides excellent surface protection from all sorts of liquids.

The key to this is finding the right type of wax conditioner. I scouted and found this wax conditioner on Amazon with great quality at a very good price. You’d want to check it out here.

Use and Application of Leather Conditioner

Leather, like human skin is naturally self-cleaning but will eventually get extremely dirty and will require some level of cleaning and conditioning.

Greasy substances and dust gets trapped in the pores of the leather.

Conditioners do a great job of protecting the leather, lubricating its fibers, and reducing the amount of friction that can damage the leather.

Although leather conditioners are great, it doesn’t warrant you to over condition your leather items.

Normally, you will condition leather items such as bags, purses, etc about once or twice a year while shoes, boots, and other leather items as such should be conditioned at least three or four times a year.

In applying leather conditioners another important factor is to use a soft lint-free cloth.

So basically what you do is to put a required quantity of leather conditioner on the lint-free cloth and apply in a circular motion over a complete portion of the leather item after which you then buff with a soft, dry, cloth and air dry before use.

Pro Tip: You should always test the effect of the conditioner on parts of the leather item that is not seen like the base of your bag, underneath flaps, etc. before applying it all over.

This is because in many cases, leather conditioners change the actual color of the product and you might not be happy with that. So always make sure you test out first before going all out on your leather item.

Similarities Between Leather Conditioner and Mink Oil

Since both are in the leather conditioners and oils category they share a lot of similarities.

  1. Both are designed to make your leather feel soft and supple
  2. Leather conditioner and mink oils nourish the fibers of the leather
  3. It both gives the leather a protective layer
  4. It is an ideal way to restore the natural oils of leather
  5. They usually share a lot of similarity in the ingredients used in their production
  6. Both may have the same type of oil ingredient that is the mink oil

Differences Between Leather Conditioner and Mink Oil – Summary

Leather Conditioner Mink Oil
1. Leather conditioners
are used to condition leather
items with minimal exposure to dirt and wear
1. Mink oil is used to condition
leather items that see a lot of heavy wear and is more exposed to dirt like work boots or military boots
2. Leather conditioners have basic ingredients such as tallow, beeswax, and oil (neatsfoot oil, or
cod liver oil or mink oil)
2. The main ingredient of mink oil is sourced from the fats removed from the mink pelt
3. Leather conditioners do not
stay long on the leather item
compared to mink oil
3. Mink oil has ingredients like
the pine pitch that makes
it stays active and useful for
the leather item for a longer time
4. It is somewhat unsaturated 4. Contains high unsaturated fat
5. Gives the leather minimal leather resistance 5. Extremely boosts the weather
resistance of the leather item
6. Leather conditioner maintains
the normal leather patina of the
leather item
6. When used, your leather items will not patina or luster
7. It is doesn’t clog the pores of the
leather like mink oil does
7. Clogs the pores of the leather item
8. Generally, it can be used on suede leather items 8. Cannot be used on suede
leather items
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Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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