How to Care for Chromexcel Leather

December 17, 2020

How to Care for Chromexcel Leather

Here at MooBuzz® All-Natural Leather Protection we have a very serious appreciation for leather. Surprised?! Properly cared for, leather can last a lifetime — and it will. Here, in this blog post, we want to feature one of the premieriest of the premier and long-lasting leathers available, Chromexcel® — or CXL for short. (We swoon.)

Chromexcel® has been expertly crafted by the Horween Leather Company in Chicago, IL, since the 1900’s. Renowned for producing leather of the highest quality, the Horween Leather Company is known for their sustainability practices. A pillar that we have also built our business on.

Quality and Sustainability

Traditionally, the process of tanning leather can be resource intense and heavy on pollution. Horween Leather Company strives to be part of the solution to that problem. They’re a rated member of the Leather Working Group (LWG), a not-for-profit membership organization committed to improving environmental stewardship within the leather manufacturing industry.

With respect to environmental issues, Horween states in its excellent blog post about Chromexcel®, “All of the water that we use, we treat. We have a fully functioning, EPA compliant, City of Chicago monitored, effluent treatment plant.  And, being responsible and ethical producers, we take that very seriously.” While we're not going to discuss in detail how Chromexcel® is made, we are going to briefly explain what Chromexcel® is — and how you can take care of it to make it last.

The Benefits of Combination Tanning

Chromexcel® is what’s known as a combination tanned leather. Tanning is a chemical process that, at its most basic level, turns a raw animal hide into leather. Leather! If you’ve heard it said that “leather is skin, treat it as you would your skin,” we’re here to tell you that that’s nonsense. Leather is no longer skin. It’s gone through a chemical transformation rendering it a different product altogether. Treat it like leather! Not skin.

Anyway, there are lots of different types of tanning processes. Two main types of tanning are chrome tannage and vegetable tannage. Chrome tanning uses chrome salts to transform the leather, while vegetable tannage uses tree barks to transform the leather.

Each type of tanning process imparts a different attribute to the leather. Chrome tanning results in soft, supple, and durable leathers (for example, a soft leather jacket or supple bag). Vegetable tanning, on the other hand, produces a stiffer leather that takes on shape very well when subjected to heat and moisture and it typically develops a rich patina over time (for example a stiff leather belt or horse bridle leather).

The benefit of combination tanning is that the resulting leather has characteristics of both of these tanning processes. In addition to the characteristics imparted by combination tanning, Chromexcel® undergoes a process called “hot stuffing.” This is where oils, waxes, and greases that are solid at room temperature are impregnated into the hides through the use of heat. At Horween this includes food-grade beef tallow and cosmetic-grade beeswax.

Hot stuffing is what gives CXL it's characteristic “pull up” look, and Chromexcel® is likely the first “pull up” leather ever produced. Pull-up occurs when the leather is bent or pulled and the oils and waxes temporarily move away from the crease in the leather. This creates variations in color and gives the leather a sort of “rough hewn” appearance with surface scratches appearing quite easily.

How to Care for Chromexcel®

This brings us to our main topic: How to care for Chromexcel® Leather. You can probably guess that we're going to recommend MooBuzz® All-Natural Leather Protection. You're right and here's why: MooBuzz® Leather Protection is made from a blend of 100% pure Neatsfoot Oil and beeswax. That’s it. And here is what Nick Horween says about Chromexcel: “The last step for Chromexcel is (a) coat of Neatsfoot Oil, so when people ask me how to condition this leather, that’s always my first recommendation.” 

Because of the high oil content in CXL leather, surface scratches can usually be buffed out with little trouble. Oftentimes just a good push with your thumb can blend the color back to where you want it. But what should you do if your CXL is thoroughly water or mud soaked? Below are some likely situations and how to handle them:

Dust!

Your CXL is dusty from wear and tear - but it’s not gritty or dirt caked. For the most part a good rub down with a damp cloth will remove most surface dust and dirt. Once that’s done, apply a light coat of MooBuzz® All-Natural Leather Protection. Apply it with your hands or a soft cloth, let it absorb for a few minutes and then wipe away any excess. After wiping off excess, buff the leather all over with a MooBuzz® Shine Cloth. 

Grime!

Your CXL is covered with grit and grime or caked with mud. Follow these instructions for how to clean your leather and treat it after it’s dry.

Water!

Your CXL leather got thoroughly soaked. Most leather can get wet, really wet, without being ruined. It’s what happens after it gets wet that matters. The best practice is to let the leather dry with plenty of air and no heat. Don’t put wet leather in the oven, blast it with a heat gun, or hang it on a radiator (never a good idea even with dry leather). Stuff your wet boots or bag with towels or newspaper and let them dry out. It may take several days.

Hang your CXL jacket on a wooden or plastic hanger, preferably the kind with rounded or sloped ends. Or lay it down flat on top of a towel and put a towel on the inside to absorb some moisture. Stuff the arms with towels, too. Flip it over once in a while to make sure all sides are getting good air flow.

When the leather is almost totally dry, when it feels dry but just slightly cool to the touch, apply a light coat of MooBuzz® All-Natural Leather Protection. Apply it with your hands or a soft cloth, let it absorb for a few minutes and then wipe away any excess. After wiping off excess, buff the leather all over with a MooBuzz Shine Cloth.

Treat your Chromexcel® and all of your leather right. Use MooBuzz® All-Natural Leather Protection to condition, waterproof, and protect!

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