How To Soften Hardened Shoe Polish? (Read This First)

If you’ve been in touch with the men’s fashion world, you must be well up-to-date with the importance of shoe polish. 

It is common for an average user to notice that a shoe polish can take a different texture depending on the surrounding conditions.

Whenever shoe polish stays for a long time on your shelf without use, the shoe polish will likely become rock-hard. So how do you work your way out? Let’s take a look.

The most secure and straightforward way of softening a hardened shoe polish is by applying latent heat. Just as you use heat often to melt a particular solid material, the same goes for shoe polish. In addition to applying heat, you should also add oil to restore the consistency of the shoe polish.

To every problem, there is always an equally possible solution to abscond the problem. Yes, shoe polish gets hardened for some reason or another at some point in time. But what is the way out.? 

This article is all you need to know about tackling the common issue of shoe polish hardening. 

What Makes a Shoe Polish Harden?

How To Soften Hardened Shoe Polish

The total of what makes shoe polish rock hard is the lack of proper storage. Negligence in the appropriate storage practice of shoe polish causes the hardening of the shoe polish. 

Usually, every manufactured product comes with a specific directive as to the storage preference of that product. 

The same applies to shoe polish, as some components are volatile.

Shoe polish solvents such as Naphtha, Turpentine, and Stoddard solution that soften the polish wax are highly volatile. 

Therefore, if the shoe polish remains open after use, the solvent will evaporate, leaving only the waxed paste.

For this reason, it is imperative to stick to the storage provision of any outlined shoe polish. 

To dive further, it is worth knowing that many other environmental factors can affect the texture of shoe polish.

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Shoe polish, especially those that come as a waxy paste/cream, is grossly affected by its surrounding conditions. 

So, due to the storage condition, shoe polish will become dry and hard because of the surrounding atmosphere.

One of the major influencing factors in shoe polish hardening is sunlight. Shoe polish, especially the waxed paste, doesn’t do well under direct sunlight. 

Shoe polish under direct sunlight always ends up drying and cracking quickly. The heat from the sun tempers typically with the moisture content of waxed paste/cream shoe polish. 

The temperature and relative humidity of your surroundings are other significant factors in shoe polish hardening. 

Two Ways To Soften Hardened Shoe Polish 

Softening a hardened shoe polish generally employs low heat of some sort or another. 

However, the method of applying heat to soften the shoe polish varies from one to another. 

Nevertheless, always ensure never to heat the shoe polish on a flame in every applicable heating method. 

The reason is that the solvents that act as softeners to waxed shoe polish are highly flammable. 

Therefore, shoe polish will likely catch fire leading to a fire burn when directly heated on a flame. 

However, there are two standard methods of heating a shoe polish to soften it that don’t include direct flame. 

One of the ways to heat a hardened shoe polish is by using a double boiler. Another effective way to heat a hardened shoe polish is through a hot water bath. 

Let’s briefly examine the two common profound and effective ways of heating a hardened shoe polish to soften it.

#1. Using a Double Boiler

When shoe polish gets hardened, it is likely because of the evaporation of the moisture content of the polish. 

To employ the double boiler method of heating hardened shoe polish, you must first resolve to replenish the lost moisture content of the polish. 

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Here are steps to heat a hardened shoe polish with a double boiler.

  • Pour one-quarter of orange oil or Turpentine, which will make up for the moisture of the polish. Place the top pan on the bottom pot of the double boiler filled with 75 percent water. 
  • Turn on the flame while you keep the shoe polish at the center of the top boiler pot pan.
  • Allow the wax to melt completely as it mixes with the solvent. Turn off the flame when the polish is completely dissolved and allow it to cold and solidify. 

#2. Using a Hot Water Bath

  • Fill a pot with water so that the shoe polish floats halfway.
  • Turn on the flame to heat the water bath. You must ensure that the water inside the pot does not reach its boiling point while heating. Preferably, the water bath temperature should be below 176 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • As the water boils, the hardened shoe polish will melt.
  • Allow the shoe polish to cool down in the water bath after it completely melts. Then, your polish is ready for use.

Should You Use a Hardened Shoe Polish?

Once a shoe polish gets hardened, it is no longer in good condition. In addition, it is challenging to use hardened shoe polish as the texture of the polish is already tempered. 

The simple truth is that as shoe polish gets dried up, the more the polish quality deteriorates. For this reason, it would be wise not to use hardened shoe polish on the shoe.

There is a reason why softener solvents are part of the composition of shoe polish. Also, there is a reason why you’re directed to use a wet cloth or soaking for your leather shoe while polishing. 

All the above are enough pointers that it is unhealthy to polish your shoes with hardened polish. 

Therefore, it is important never to allow your shoe polish to get dried up, nor should you attempt using it under that condition. 

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However, in a case where your shoe polish is hardened, you must first reverse the texture of the shoe polish. 

You can apply low heat through any of the methods mentioned above. There are also some shoe polish wax softeners that help to restore the texture of a hardened polish.

There are many reasons to avoid hardened shoe polish, especially leather shoes, and boots. 

To begin with, hardened shoe polish can cause the leather skin of your shoe to become desiccated.

A hardened shoe polish is a dried-up shoe polish. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the hardened shoe polish causes the leather skin of your shoe to become hardened as well.

Does Shoe Polish Expire?

Yes, some shoe polish does expire. And even though you can use most shoe polish indefinitely, it does not mean it will last forever. 

Usually, the shelf life of the best shoe polish ranges around 18-24 months. After the shelf life of the shoe polish, it becomes an expired product. 

However, with constant use, the shoe polish will get exhausted far before its shelf life.

A product expires either when such a product no longer finds use or becomes toxic for use. Therefore, after the estimated shelf life of shoe polish, it is not out of place to say that the product is expired. 

However, the case of shoe polish hardening doesn’t necessarily mean that the polish has expired. Within this point, the shoe polish is still safe to use.

Hardened shoe polish can be restored and used with no side effects on the shoe. However, the case isn’t the same when you use expired shoe polish on your leather shoe.

The Table below gives a clear distinction between expired shoe polish and hardened shoe polish.

Expired Shoe PolishHardened Shoe Polish
Polish stains.Hard texture.
Poor coloring.Intense color.
Prolonged staining of the skin when in contact.No prolonged stain when in contact.
It causes throat irritation and coughing.It is possible to restore.

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