Neatsfoot oil is a popular ingredient used in the leather industry, especially for leather polishing and conditioning. It is also an excellent moisturizer and can be used to treat dry skin.
This oil is originally derived from the bones, specifically the shin and hooves of cattle. Neatsfoot oil also can be made from poultry and horses.
The history of this renowned oil goes well past the seventeenth century. Did you know that it is named Neatsfoot because it comes from the foot of ‘neats’, which is an old English word for cattle? Not only that, in Mrs. Jane Baber’s cookbook from 1625, there’s a medicinal recipe for treating ricket in children. It includes ‘neats foote oyle’, also known as neatsfoot oil as one of the ingredients.
Pure neatsfoot oil that is derived from cattle is thick and yellow in color. Its consistency is like mink oil. The oil that’s made from poultry is straw green in color. It is insoluble in water.
The pure form of this oil is hard to come by. Therefore, in many cases, it is made from lard or animal fat, in this case, cattle lard. If you ever come across pure bone neatsfoot oil, on closer inspection, you’d notice the bone material is kept at low.
Types Of Neatsfoot Oil
There are majorly two types of this oil available in the market.
Pure Neatsfoot Oil: It is originally derived from the hooves and shins of cattle and is an extraordinary leather conditioner. It easily seeps through the pores and restores its natural oil. However, nowadays it is mostly made from lurd.
Neatsfoot Oil Compound: The compound version of this oil is made by diluting the pure oil with petroleum-based synthetic oil. It is more cost-effective. But, experts do not recommend the compound for leather conditioning as it may cause dryness. Therefore, it is now used as a supplement for leather dye.
According to leading leather care manufacturer Fiebing’s, 6% of dye can be mixed with 94% neatsfoot oil compound to achieve a richer color.
Apart from petroleum-based oil, nowadays pure neatsfoot oil is also being diluted with vegetable oil, lanoline, or even glycerin. As a result, chances are leather may get damaged by these kinds of compounds. Therefore, be cautious while buying this oil. It is recommended to purchase neatsfoot oil only from a reputed brand and does not forget to check its composition.
Also, See Our Article on Fenugreek Oil Benefits For Hair here.
Properties Of Neatsfoot Oil
Pure neatsfoot oil consists of many fatty acids. 67% oleic and 17% palmitic. The remaining 16% consists of other components.
Oleic Acid: It is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. It is also known for its topical uses. It can easily penetrate the skin and locks the moisture, therefore prevents the skin from developing fine lines and wrinkles. This acid is one of the main reasons the oil is used to treat dry flaky skin.
Palmitic Acid: It is a saturated long-chain fatty acid. It is a great emollient, often used in moisturizers.
Other Components: In neatsfoot oil has 16% of other components. These components are palmitoleic acid (9%), stearic acid (3%), myristic acid (1%), myristoleic acid (1%) arachidonic acid (1%), and clupanodonic acid (1%).
Uses Of Neatsfoot Oil
As we have already understood, neatsfoot oil is an excellent leather conditioner. On a clean cloth, directly pour a little bit of the oil and rub it a bit to evenly spread.
Now, rub the oil-covered cloth all over the leather with even pressure. On colored leather, once the oil is applied, some of the dye might get removed as oil. But on black leather, the oil application immediately makes it look richer.
Leave it for 24 hours for the oil to completely penetrate and soften. The leather will be now ready to use or get stitched. Pure neatsfoot oil prevents the leather from breaking down over the years of usage, and also keeps supplying moisture once it starts fading.
2. Leather Waterproofing
Neatsfoot oil compound and the prime oil both are great for waterproofing leather. Whether for new leather or your old leather items, it is a good idea to keep this oil handy at home and apply it once in a few years.
Take a leather buffing cloth and pour a bit of the oil on it. Now rub this oil on every nook and cranny of your leather item. Once the oil is completely soaked, it is ready to head out in the rain without any worries.
3. As Natural Moisturizer
Due to the presence of many saturated and monosaturated omega fatty acids, this oil is an excellent natural moisturizer. It’s extremely rich and viscous. Therefore, it helps in treating dry and scaly skin. It’s especially useful for those who have dry skin on their elbows and have crack heels.
Take 2-3 drops of the oil and rub it in the dry skin thoroughly. Regular use of neatsfoot oil helps in softening the skin from the deep within. It enters the epidermis level and nourishes it. Therefore, you’ll notice significant results within months.
4. Wood Preservation
If your wooden furniture or items have lost their sheen, all you need is a bit of polishing with neatsfoot oil to brighten them up. Mix this oil with equal amounts of turpentine oil. Dip a clean rag into the oil mix and gently rub it on every wooden piece thoroughly. Leave them for some time to dry before using.
This is excellent in preserving and conditioning wood.
Neatsfoot oil is an extraordinary lubricant. It is commonly used in aluminum metalworking as cutting oil. Since it is superior to kerosene and other cutting oils, the oil is used for machining, tapping, and drilling aluminum.
6. Oil Painting
Neatsfoot oil is the painter’s favorite for removing any unwanted residue. Since this oil doesn’t dry quickly, painters use this to remove any undesired paint strokes. Also, it is used to clean the bristles and metal parts of the paintbrush of the oil paint. It acts as an impurity and cleans the brush 100%.
7. Protection Against Harsh Winter
During winter, our skin loses its natural moisture. It makes the skin dry, even numb if the winter is too harsh. Therefore, it becomes important to protect the epidermis of our skin and nourish it from within.
Researchers have proved that a fat or lard high diet is beneficial in thermogenesis, which is increasing heat production from within the body. Additionally, applying natural oil that is rich in oleic acid such as neatsfoot oil creates an extra layer of protection on the skin that reduces damage caused by harsh winter temperatures.
- Neatsfoot oil darkens the color of the leather. So, if the leather is of light color, conditioning or waterproofing with this oil would change the color. Therefore, it is advisable to use other leather conditioners, such as mink oil.
- Usually, this oil is safe for human topical use. However, the oil that is derived from lard has a significant amount of arachidonic acid that intensifies inflammation and obesity-related complications in males. In females, this acid causes fatty liver and insulin resistance. Therefore, it is advisable to use this oil upon the physician’s recommendation. (6)
Where Can You Buy Neatsfoot Oil From?
There are many brands that sell this oil. Based on the usage, pure neatsfoot oil and neatsfoot oil compound can be bought. It can be purchased online or from any hardware store. However, it is of utmost importance to research the oil well and read the composition carefully before purchasing.