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Leather Dressing/Conditioner: How Much & How Often?

July 23, 2009

LeatherConditionerHandHow much leather conditioner or leather dressing is enough?  How often should you dress or condition your whip?  Pictured to the left is the amount of Pecards leather dressing I used a few days ago to condition my 6ft ‘roo hide bullwhip.  If you have a 12ft whip, you’ll probably need about double this.  If your whip is only 3ft long,  you’ll probably need about half the amount you see in my hand.  You get the idea.  This picture shows the amount I used to condition the thong only – not the fall.  I used about another two pea sized amounts on the fall.

How often should I condition my whip?  Whenever it feels dry.  But I understand that’s a little vague and confusing if this is your first whip, and you’re trying to figure out how best to care for such an investment.  What is “dry” exactly?  Well, that’s hard to describe, but the general rule of thumb for the “how often” is once every six months.  If you use your whip pretty often, you can shorten that a bit.  If you use your whip religiously every day for a half an hour or more, you might want to shorten the rule down to about once every two or three months.  If your whip has a fall, you’ll want to condition just the fall (not the thong) after every handful of practice sessions.  If you live in a very dry climate, like the desert, you might want to shorten the time between conditioning sessions by about 5-10% (we moved from humid Ohio to desert Nevada, and noticed our whips needed conditioning a bit more often out here in the wild west than they did in the midwest).

And as for how to apply it?  Smear the dressing around on the palms of both your hands, then gently massage it into the entire braided length of your leather whip.  Be particularly sparing on the butt knot and the transition knot and fall hitch (if your whip has those knots).  Actually, if you use your whip fairly often, the knots will generally not require any dressing at all – the oils from your hands is plenty.  An abundance of leather dressing will make your whip too floppy, and can throw off its balance.  Also, too much leather dressing on the knots can loosen them.  Not conditioning your whip or your fall enough can make the leather brittle, and prone to breaking, or even eventually dry rot.  Wipe your thong/fall down with a towel no less than 15 minutes after conditioning it to remove any excess dressing.

This might sound a little complicated, but don’t panic.  Leather whips aren’t really as hard to care for as I might have made it seem.  If you condition your whip a bit too often, or forget to condition it often enough, it’s not the end of the world – or the end of your whip.  Actually, the 6ft whip I conditioned with that glob of Pecards you see above actually hadn’t been conditioned in a little over a year, and it’s far from ruined.  In fact, it’s still perfectly happy and healthy, although I did notice that it drank up the conditioner a bit faster than it normally would have.  Whips that are conditioned a little too often also also aren’t ruined.  Just try to not be too extreme in either direction, to much or too little, over the lifetime of your whip, and you should be just fine.

The guidelines I’ve outlined above are approximations of the optimum conditioning schedule.  Over time, you’ll learn your whip, how often you use it, and how your local weather affects it.  And you’ll also learn to tell when it seems dry, and be able to adjust your conditioning schedule to when it’s needed instead of timing yourself with a calendar or trying to guess.  In the meantime, just do your best to care for your new whip, and know that well-made leather whips are built to endure a lot – they are anything but fragile.  So long as you give your best effort to care for it, and your whip was crafted by someone experienced in making high quality whips, you really don’t have anything to worry about.

For more information on brands of leather dressing or leather conditioner that we recommend please check out the “Conditioning Your Whip: Which Leather Dressing?” post.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Brandon Manning permalink
    November 14, 2011 5:04 pm

    Ok, I have made a hell worthy trespass and put lexol on my 8 ft kangaroo hide bullwhip, not knowing it contained neetsfoot oil. What kind of wear and tear am i looking at for putting it on my whip?

  2. PADEN permalink
    April 25, 2012 5:55 pm

    I use the Aussie Bees wax. It works well but I use an old rag and a rubber exam glove!!


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