Shoe Shine Technique
September 20, 2004 11:12 AM   Subscribe

The other day at an airport I got my shoes shined, and midway through the process the guy pulled out a small blowtorch and gave my shoes a quick cook. Anybody heard of doing this? What does it do? Is it good/bad for the shoes? Are there other secret/crazy methods for polishing shoes? What's the best way to make my shoes shiny?
posted by rorycberger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The guy in Alien Resurrection did the same thing with his shoe polish.

I figure it melts the shoe polish quicker so that you can easily apply it.
posted by shepd at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2004


several ex (and current) military folks that i know use the lighter trick to burn off excess polish if they've applied it unevenly. some use the lighter (the "high tech part") to get the gloss, but you can just use kiwi parade gloss for that without risk of burning your shoes (but yes, it's less manly) and most everyone i know has used a match at least once to soften polish before shining shoes when necessary.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:28 AM on September 20, 2004


Usually what I see is guys who polish boots igniting the polish in the tin briefly, which liquifies it then applying the liquified polish to the boots.
posted by dnash at 12:37 PM on September 20, 2004


Yes, I learned to catch the polish on fire in the tin before applying from watching a Marine friend polish his shoes. It liquifies the polish and makes it very easy to apply an even coat. And it's fun to catch shoe polish on fire.
posted by drobot at 12:50 PM on September 20, 2004


Sounds like the kind of shoe shine you would get in a tacky Polynesian restaurant circa 1974...
posted by ParisParamus at 1:04 PM on September 20, 2004


Off-topic, but: Did this guy have the blowtorch before or after the security check?
posted by zeikka at 1:21 PM on September 20, 2004


Re: igniting the shoe polish in the can... Does it quickly consume the vapor and burn itself out, or do you snuff out the flame with the lid?
posted by Jeff Howard at 9:28 PM on September 20, 2004


What does it do?

Among other things, it really gets your attention and makes you feel you're getting your money's worth. That's one damn snazzy shoe-shine, man, no shit!
posted by scarabic at 10:45 PM on September 20, 2004


When I was in Navy bootcamp, we thought we invented igniting the polish. Does every basic trainning group think this?

Jeff Howard: you snuff it with the lid.
posted by Goofyy at 11:02 PM on September 20, 2004


lighting the polish in the can is quicker than a spitshine, that's for certain, but it scratches right off more readily because it doesn't fill the pores the same way as a good spitshine.

holy fuck i've polished a lot of boots. never HAD to use the lighter method, though i did a few times. when you light it in the can, it allows you to get a lot of polish onto the boot quickly, but then you can basically only buff instead of working it into the pores.

the blowtorch method is a good one, as far as the gloss goes. once you work the polish in, you can light it on fire (and watch it travel up the boot!) and then blow it out. instant shine. but you can only do it for a second or two or ALL of the polish will melt, draining it out of the pores.

so, to summarize...don't melt it in the can. work the shine into the pores with a good rag, and then once you have the shine in the pores, light it or use Kiwi Honor Guard. i prefer honor guard. you can also purchase honor guard edge dressing for the sole of your shoe. it lasts a LOT longer than a blowtorched shine.

some other tips:

parade gloss sucks. it's extra hard, so it's a pain to work with. if you save it for the end, the effort it takes to get it onto the boot ruins all the work you put in with a base coat.

wash your shoes/boots before hand! often stores will put on shine themselves, and seal it with a thin layer of wax. it'll clog the pores, so you'll want to wash the shoe before hand. i was told to use saddle soap, and then use shampoo to get the saddle soap/wax/polish mixture off.

so, here's a step by step guide to shining your shoes:

1. wash.
2. apply polish to shoe with a rag. put a little bit of water into the upturned lid, and lightly get some polish onto the rag. you'll want to use a vigorous motion to slightly heat up the polish, and then dip the tip of the rag into the water so that you have slightly damp polish. the water should bead up.
3. work it into the pores. don't do it too hard or it'll get brittle and flake off. work in a nice circular manner.
4. apply honor guard. it'll really gloss it up nicely, and because it's a liquid it won't screw up your hard work. use lots.
5. if your sole is black, apply edge dressing to the side of the sole.

that's about it. these methods got me through inspection.
posted by taumeson at 7:08 AM on September 21, 2004 [2 favorites]


Well that explains why polish is still sold in those funky metal cans. taumeson's steps 1 - 3 plus a little work with a cloth is all I've ever done. But I've only had disinterested tech bosses looking.
posted by Mitheral at 8:18 AM on September 21, 2004


Brings back memories of the years I spent polishing jump boots. I learned to light the polish in the can and blow it out like a candle. I only used well worn t-shirts to apply it. I used the lid of the can to hold the water, which is mixed with the polish for the high gloss shine.
posted by Juicylicious at 8:55 AM on September 21, 2004


thanks for the tips everyone!

zeikka - I was past security, so that's interesting. I wonder if maybe since it was a small minitorch it's classified as being a lighter? Or maybe - scarily - shoe shine people don't have to clear security???
posted by rorycberger at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2004


>I wonder if maybe since it was a small minitorch it's classified as being a lighter? Or maybe - scarily - shoe shine people don't have to clear security???

Where you live, you have security at the ENTRANCE to the airport? Man, that's crazy. At pearson, unless you're getting on an airplane, you just walk in, do your business, and get out.
posted by shepd at 12:05 PM on September 21, 2004


Where you live, you have security at the ENTRANCE to the airport? Man, that's crazy. At pearson, unless you're getting on an airplane, you just walk in, do your business, and get out.

Uhh, this wasn't at the entrance to the airport, nor was it where i lived, it was during a layover in Denver. The shoe shine was near all the gates, past security.
posted by rorycberger at 12:41 PM on September 21, 2004


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