Impregnating your shoes correctly
Keeping your feet dry
Impregnating your shoes – arguably the most well-known way of caring for your own shoes. Find out here exactly how the impregnation process works, what factors are important to consider with this treatment and the shoes which benefit most from this process.
What is impregnation?
The word “impregnation” derives from the Italian verb “impregnare”. It means to soak something in an active substance. During the impregnation process, an impregnation agent is applied to a material, thereby changing its properties.
The term impregnation describes a process that is used for the finishing of textiles and leathers. As a result, the materials become water repellent (hydrophobisation). The application methods for the treatment may be different, but they are all based on the applying certain substances which form a film on the material (usually paraffin and wax emulsions or silicones or fluorocarbons).
Why is leather hydrophilic (water-loving)?
Shoe leather (with the exception of greased leather) is a natural material which attracts water (i.e. is hydrophilic) due to the pores and fibre structure of the leather. Some of the pores on the surface of the material are deliberately left open during the tanning and dressing process of shoe leather in order to maintain its breathability. This means that shoe leather in not 100% waterproof like other materials. Suede leather is particularly attracted to water due to its open fibre structure, whilst smooth leather and patent leather are less so.
This water-absorbing property of leather however also describes one of the material's particular benefits, as its ability to absorb, store and release a lot of moisture gives leather an ideal characteristic for the inside the shoe (absorption and regulation of foot sweat).
Logically speaking, this positive can turn into a negative when it is damp and cold outside.
What effect does impregnation have on shoe leather?
Leather becomes water-repellent (hydrophobic) by having its surface impregnated (outer side of the shoe). A special layer applied during the impregnation process reduces the cohesive forces of the material and outweighs the cohesive forces of water, causing it to form into droplets which drip off the impregnated leather. The shoe leather remains breathable despite this impregnation process. This guarantees that the shoes stay feeling fresh and perspiration-free – even in winter.
How important is it to impregnate your shoes?
In a nutshell: extremely. This is because impregnating shoes is without doubt the most important and widely favoured method when it comes to equipping a pair of shoes for everyday wear during the autumn and winter or on rainy days. All open-pored, premium shoe leathers, such as suede, which are naturally very sensitive to moisture and dirt, should be impregnated.
This impregnation process usually takes place in tanneries. This is not the case for all manufacturers, however. At Sioux, however, we always ensure that all of our shoes are impregnated before being sold and are therefore water and dirt repellent for our customers.
Making the outer material of the shoe water-repellent is not the only benefit of impregnating your shoes. There are other benefits too: not just moisture, but dirt is prevented from penetrating the material too. Another positive side effect is that impregnating your shoes protects their colour and extends their durability. The great thing about this is that you are truly able to enjoy your high-quality pair of Sioux shoes for as long as possible by impregnating them regularly.
How do I impregnate my shoes or boots correctly?
- Remove all traces of dirt from your shoes and let them dry to guarantee thorough impregnation.
- Impregnate your shoes as evenly as possible, from a distance of 20-30 centimetres. Make sure to carefully impregnate not only the actual leather, but also the seams, edges and laces.
- Repeat this process two to three times. As it goes, several thinner layers are much more effective than a single thick one. Ensure however that your shoes do not become too moist.
- The shoes should then be allowed to dry out completely before being worn out in the mud and rain.
It is best to impregnate shoes outdoors or in well-ventilated areas to avoid any harmful effects to the health caused by accidental inhalation of aerosols.
How often do shoes need to be impregnated?
When it comes to impregnation, a little really does go a long way – but you must keep up with this treatment regularly. Here at Sioux, we ensure our shoes are carefully impregnated in the factory. We nevertheless recommend that you regularly impregnate your shoes in order to refresh the existing protection. A combination of the way that the leather moves and bends whilst walking and small abrasions gradually removes this impregnation coating and the effect of the impregnating agent is decreased in some areas. It is important to remember that impregnation only applies a superficial layer of protection to the shoe. Therefore, we recommend regularly impregnating the shoe every 10 times that it is worn – especially in winter. If the shoes have been exposed to a heavy downpour of rain or slush, the impregnation should be refreshed immediately after drying.
Does the price you pay for impregnation spray impact its effectiveness?
When it comes to impregnation spray, the price of the agent (unlike other shoe care products) tends to be negligible. You may notice some differences in the protection offered from water, slush and ice, but these are marginal. The normal impregnating sprays that can be found in any chemist are completely sufficient for what is normally required of them, i.e. dealing with the conditions faced in everyday life in the city. It is important to stress once more that it is the regularity of which you impregnate your shoes is that is most important factor at play here.
Those whose shoes are constantly exposed to high levels of stress or who would like to take extra-care of their shoes can buy their impregnation spray from a specialist dealer that may well add other care substances to the product, making it arguably the better choice.
Does impregnating shoes harm the environment?
Impregnation sprays do not have the best reputation when it comes to protecting the environment, however this should not be the case. Most well-known impregnation spray manufacturers only use ingredients that are classified as posing no risk to the health of humans and the environment in their impregnation sprays. That being said, it is important that you do not inhale the aerosols, something that is indeed harmful, as the active ingredients contained should not end up in your lungs under any circumstances. We recommend pump sprays in order to avoid releasing propellant gases. Although the industry has switched to CFC-free aerosols, it is still best to avoid propellant gases and rely instead on sprays that you pump yourself.
A Sioux shoe is truly a trusted companion thanks to its high quality. But even premium materials need support in order to offer protection against environmental influences. Taking care of a Sioux shoe properly means maintaining its worth and exceptional comfort for a long time.
Taking breaks from wearing your leather shoes makes a significant impact in terms of increasing their lifespan. Those who regularly take a break from wearing their shoes benefit from a high standard of shoe hygiene as well as being able to preserve the optimal fit of their shoes for as long as possible.
You may well believe that you already learned how to take your shoes on and off as a toddler. That is true of course, but we are concerned with doing this in a way that best preserves your high-quality leather shoes.
Lasts are used as part of the shoe manufacturing process. These are modelled on the human foot and give the shoe its shape and stability. In everyday use, shoe trees should be used to take on this role.
Shoe cleaning is an art in itself and a task that fewer and fewer people are unfortunately taking the time to do. This is a shame because shoes are at their best when they are cleaned and maintained well. Not only this, but we also believe that it puts people in good stead and gives off a neat and orderly overall impression to not only take pride in their outer clothing, but also keep their footwear well-maintained. “Smart up top, casual on the bottom” is not a motto that we recommend following for your style inspiration, even with laid-back fashion trends that are popular nowadays.
The impeccable condition that your shoes arrive in will show signs of wear and tear over time. It is worthwhile using the correct care product for your shoes in order to counteract this.
A shoe brush is an essential tool for every type of shoe care. It is important to use the correct shoe brush for the respective outer material of the shoe and to preserve the leather rather than unintentionally cause additional wear. Thoroughly caring for your shoes always starts with brushing the shoes and ends with the final polishing.
Just like our skin, leather also needs regular care in order to stay soft, durable and crease-free. The same goes for our shoes. Those who regularly take the time to polish their shoes provide them with suppleness and elasticity whilst protecting them from moisture.
Our suede leather is our most fashionable and luxurious leather. Impregnation spray is often the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to the topic of shoe care, and rightly so, however impregnation is only half of the story. Find out the reasons why here.