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April 11, 2012 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Footwear vs fashion vs kink: organic/edible shoe polishes and treatments, or home-made alternatives?

Awkward question, not sure what category fits, but basically:

My girl has recently developed a rather burning passion for taking care of my shoes and belts and leather things, including hand polishing and buffing them so often I feel rather like some sort of shoe king around here. (Also, I own way too many pairs of shoes. It's embarrassing, almost.)

She also likes to, um, kiss and lick them while I'm wearing them. A lot.

All of which is fine and surprisingly fun for me (yay for new things!) but even when they're clean, I'd like her to not risk sickness or poisoning from petrochemical polishes and waxes and such. So far I've just been encouraging her to buff and rub them extra-well with a chamois to reduce residue as much as possible, but I'm still concerned.

So: does anyone know any vegetable/organic/natural products (polishes, conditioners, waterproofing treatments) that we should be using, here? I don't want silly/impractical flavored things, but there must be some homemade or quality commercial products safer than generic Kiwi Oxblood or Kelly Black #2, right? My shoes that matter are almost all real leather uppered/soled Oxfords/brogues, if that matters.

Or, I suppose: am I just being silly and worrying about nothing? She's not complaining and hasn't been ill yet.

And, again, sorry in advance if this category is wrong. I wrestled with it.
posted by rokusan to Human Relations (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

You're not going to believe this, but...fresh banana peel is an ideal organic shoe polish!
posted by batmonkey at 1:03 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

...a more detailed explanation here.
posted by batmonkey at 1:05 PM on April 11, 2012

If you're looking for more info online, the term you're looking for is "bootblacking." I'm not well versed on the subject but I might be able to point you in the direction of more information if you memail me.
posted by Requiax at 1:51 PM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly, if she's licked them already without getting sick, it seems unlikely that she will in the future. It's not like she's sitting down and eating a can of shoe polish - we're talking about trace amounts, and it's hard to imagine that these products are so toxic that they're going to cause problems in such small doses. But I'm not a doctor, of course.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:31 PM on April 11, 2012

Generally, I'd expect the wax component of the polish to be pretty safe. Wax is a common ingredient in candies and pills. I think its any volatile organic solvents in the polish you'd have to worry about, I think most shoe polish basically has gasoline in it.

I found this: Handmade Beeswax Shoe Polish
Ingredients: "Soap Flakes, Bees wax (Cera Alba), Potassium carbonate (K2CO3), Gum Arabic powder, Icing sugar, charcoal powder"

Also: Tapir Leatherbalm
Ingredients: castor oil, beeswax, shellac wax, candelilla wax, Carnauba wax, Limonene, turpentine, pigments.

Not sure about the safety of the turpentine in there.
posted by Hither at 9:40 PM on April 11, 2012

It appears that you can also make your own shoe polish.
posted by Hither at 12:11 AM on April 12, 2012

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