Mink Oil VS Boots/Shoe Oil (Testing Fiebing’s & Huberd’s On My Work Boots)

Mink oil and boot oil from Fiebing’s and boots oil from Huberd’s respectively are two of the most well-known leather treatment options out there.

There’s not much REAL content out there that address this topic so I’ve decided to apply some mink oil to a couple of my work boots and then apply boots oil to another pair of work boots and see what happens.

The boots I’ve used for this test are my Thorogood 804-4200 work boots and the Blundstone steel toe slip-on work boots.

I’ve used these two because I wanted to try different colors and different leathers and just see what happens.

One is black so obviously, we won’t see some things like if it changes the color of the boot or not. That’s why I chose to have an extra boot for the test since this one has a more light color and we could see changes in colors and other helpful things.

Let’s get into it…

What’s in these oils?

I’m sorry to tell you I don’t know and probably no one knows 100% for sure (unless you’re the person who creates these).

What’s in the mink oil?

The liquid mink oil I’ve got from Fiebing’s says it contains:

  • Mink oil
  • Lanolin
  • Silicone
  • Neatsfoot oil

What’s in the boot’s oil?

There’s no information whatsoever as to what goes into this product or at least I can’t find it.

Each company keeps its “recipe” quite close to its chest and most of them will not include any information about what’s going on in their products.

Of course, that’s not the best for us the consumers since we might apply the wrong leather conditioner to our leather items and ruin them simply because we didn’t know what’s in the leather treatment solution we’ve used.

But at least they tell us what specific product is good to use with a specific type of leather. So make sure you ALWAYS read the label before buying and using any leather treatment to condition or waterproof your leather work boots.

Best ways to apply mink oil & boot/shoe oil

the best way to apply boot oil is by using a small paintbrush and for mink oil is to use a rag.

Most of the time when I apply mink oil I use a rug or some old t-shirt I’ve cut to clean my work boots.

Since the boot oil is a bit thicker or more viscous than mink oil I prefer to apply it with a small paintbrush. It’s much easier to spread the oil and it helps to push the oil into the stitches and places you can’t reach otherwise.

I’ve used all sorts of things to apply mink oil and boot oil to my footwear:

  • Rug
  • Old t-shirts
  • Paintbrush
  • Baking brush
  • A sponge
  • Bare hands (your hands will stink for the rest of the day though)

Differences I’ve seen between boots oil and mink oil

Here are the main differences between boot oil and mink oil that I think is worth sharing. If there’s something you want to know that I might’ve missed, please comment below and I’ll do my best to answer you.

1. Color

I know many people have asked this question and I hope the image below answers your question. I think the Huberd’s boot oil is brown and the mink oil it’s more golden color, something like sunflower oil.

We’ll see if that has any consequences when applied to the leather. Especially when applied to the lighter leather of the Thorogood work boots.

2. Smell

Both have a smell that I don’t like personally. Initially, the boot oil smell is stronger than the mink oil but after a while, I find the mink oil was stronger.

Actually, I remember one-time last winter I was working operating a small crane and it was quite cold outside so I had the AC on inside my cab.

The nice warm temperature inside the cab warmed up the leather and the mink oil to the point it gave me headaches for the whole day and made me want to vomit.

3. Thickness or viscosity

The oil boot is much thicker than the mink oil. I hope you can appreciate that in the image below. When I was pouring the shoe oil it just stayed there whereas the mink oil as soon as it touched the leather started to run down the boot.

That’s the reason I prefer to apply the boot oil with a little brush rather than use a rug. Much easier to spread the oil.

You could say that the boot oil is more like honey and the mink oil is more like sunflower oil in terms of how thick they are.

I don’t know if this has any effect on the leather but common sense tells me that the mink oil penetrates the leather easier and faster whilst the boot oil will remain at the surface of the boot for longer.

This actually might make the boot oil better for those of you that wear work boots and want to make the boot more waterproof, and more water-resistant.

4. Darkening of the leather

Another question many of you might have is which one darkens the leather, the boot oil or the mink oil?

this images shows which oil darkens the leather more on my work boots the mink oil or the boot oil

I think both of them darken the leather more or less the same. I say I think because I’m color blind so I don’t see much of a difference but I do see that both solutions have darkened the leather quite a bit.

If you’re more of an office worker, a superintendent, manager, etc or you work in a cleaner environment AND you do care about how the boot looks like then you might want to think twice before applying any of these two products to your boots.

To me, that doesn’t matter much since I’m a construction worker and the look of my boots is not necessarily at the top of my priorities (even though I try to keep them looking nice).

And in all honesty, I don’t think they look bad with this darker brown color. If you’re after a leather conditioner that doesn’t darken the leather have a look at Bickmore Bick 4 leather conditioner.

As discovered on my test comparing Bick 4 to Mink oil, the Bickmore product keeps the color of the leather very close to the original.

5. Leather penetration

After applying both leather treatment solutions to my work boots and leaving them to dry naturally for about 30 minutes I observed that the mink oil was penetrating into the leather much faster than the boot oil.

The following day the mink oil was totally sucked into the leather and the boot looked like it might need another hand of oil.

At the same time, the boot treated with boot oil was starting to show some dry areas as well.

These boots have never been treated before with any kind of leather treatment solution so maybe that’s why I’m seeing this result. I’ve been wearing them for at least 6 months now and I never put any mink oil or boot oil on them until today.

So that’s the result of the leather being dry and now it’s being brought back to life I guess. We’ve had nice weather for these past months so I thought eh, they don’t need any oil, the weather is nice and dry.

But this goes to show you that the leather (remember, after all, it’s a piece of skin) needs conditioning to keep it nice and moisturized.

6. Price

A bottle of boot oil from Huberd’s is more expensive than a bottle of Fiebing’s mink oil. Both bottles contain about the same amount of oil (~226 ml or 8 FL. OZ.)

Check their prices here: Huberd’s oil and Fiebing’s oil.

Watch this comparison on YouTube if you prefer

Can you use mink oil on riding boots?

I don’t own a pair of riding boots but mink oil can be used on many leather boots. In my experience, if the leather is a smooth type of leather it’s even better.

When should you not use mink oil or boot oil?

Yes, there’s one particular time I would not recommend you use mink oil in liquid form and also NEVER in paste/grease form or boots oil.

And that’s when you’re trying to condition or waterproof suede or nubuck work boots. It’s a big no-no from my own experience. I’ve ruined my boots by applying mink oil to my nubuck leather work boots.

I recommend you to use a spray mink oil solution if you want to give some love to your suede or nubuck boots.

So which one is better? Mink oil or boot oil?

Well, the real question is Better for what?

I’ve used these products for many years to conditions and especially to make my work boots and casual boots more water-resistant or water repellant and I can’t say there’s much difference between them other than the ones I’ve shared with you today.

Some will say that mink oil will eat your leather and after 30-40 years your boots will be ruined. Who the heck wears the same pair of boots for 40 years???

If you are one of those people all I say is that I appreciate you but I can’t do that. I get bored, the boots get wrecked or stinky or unsafe to wear after a few years in my industry.

Then you have someone that comes and say that boot oil is actually the one that will destroy the leather…

…I don’t know. To me sounds more like companies fighting for the audience. But in my personal experience, I’ve never had issues with any of the products and I’ve had to wear safety work boots for more than a decade.

Team Members Working On This Page

Victor Adrian – Editor And Webmaster

Construction Professional, driver, crane operator, cleaner, head chef … these are just some of the jobs I did in the past. Working in all these different environments taught me that having good footwear to protect your feet from different dangers at work IS PARAMOUNT for any worker! On this website, I aim to share all my knowledge and personal experience in dealing with different footwear and foot care issues, and hopefully, you can get something out of it. Enjoy!

Jessica Flynn
Jessica Flynn – Writer And Researcher

Love technology, going to the beach, taking care of my body, and writing (amongst other things). You’ll see my face around here a little bit since I’m responsible for part of the research and writing of some of the articles you’re reading on BestForMyFeet.com. I hope you’ll find our content helpful and enjoyable! See you around, thanks for reading!

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