A common leather conditioner is dubbin. This is a waxy product that has been in use since medieval times. It was, and still is, used to soften leather and make it waterproof. It also deepens the color of the leather. Dubbin is made from tallow, natural wax, and oil and it is possible to prepare this product at home.
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Tallow is obtained from suet and is typically used to make candles, soap and lubricants. It can be made from either mutton or beef. Tallow is generally prepared by first melting the fat in a large cooking vessel resulting in a liquid which is strained to remove all the meat and grizzle out if it. This mixture is then cooled down until it solidifies. The solid substance is the tallow.
Traditionally, beeswax has been an ingredient of dubbin. Beeswax is made by honey bees inside their hives. Today, bee farms produce mass quantities of this substance. The beeswax is collected by first heating the honeycomb in water after the honey has been removed from it. This process causes the wax to separate from the honeycomb. The mixture is then cooled down, resulting in the formation of a solid waxy substance that can be readily removed. Beeswax is used in many other products such as candles, ointments, soaps and polishes.
Oil is an essential ingredient in dubbin and a variety of types can be used. Today, one type of dubbin that is sold on the market uses mink oil. People who make dubbin at home use a variety of oils including codliver oil and neatsfoot oil, which are animal derived oils.