Waterproof shoes you say? Not possible you say! Well, actually, it just might be. In fact, not only is it possible, but the secret tool you need in order to do it is probably already sitting in your house right this instant.
Far from being a complex formula or magical solution, the secret to puddle-proof footwear is actually just - drumroll please - the humble candle.
After recently writing an article about all the unusual ways you can use candles to brighten your days, I was surprised at how versatile paraffin wax can be. With a melting point somewhere between 46°C and 68°C, its odorless scent, and most importantly, its insolubility in water, it makes the perfect water resisting material.
With the longly anticipated mystery finally uncovered, it's time to grab your shoes, your candles, and prepare to have your mind blown.
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The first step to waterproofing your shoes? Wax & lots of it
First things first, make sure your shoes are nice and clean. When that's done, you can move onto the first step of the waterproofing process.
Using a long, taper candle, start rubbing the wax vigorously onto your shoes. Don't be afraid of over-applying, as the wax will disappear completely once heated. Try and get into all the corners to ensure all areas are covered.
Depending on whether you're aiming for puddle-proof shoes or rain-proof, you may decide just to wax around the base of your trainers, or all over.
Repeat with your other shoe and once you're happy with the coverage, you can move onto the next step.
Melt the wax to create a waterproof coating
The nature of paraffin wax will mean that the surface of your shoes now looks a bit patchy and also probably quite unattractive. Don't worry though, as this next step will get your trainers looking as good as new again.
In Colleen's article, 21 uses for a hair dryer that will blow your mind, she recommends using a hairdryer to gently melt candle wax, and this is exactly what you need to do next.
With your hair dryer on high, begin warming the wax on the surface of your shoes. You can hold the hairdryer pretty close to your trainers - remember that the wax needs to reach at least 46°C in order to melt. After 30 seconds or so, you should begin to see the wax disappearing - this is because it's reached the required melting point and is now seeping into the top coat of your shoe.
Continue blasting over the surface of your shoes until it no longer appears 'waxy'.
Test your waterproof shoes
There's only one thing left to do - test them out. Go outside, wait for the rain, or splash some water over your trainers in the sink and prepare to be amazed as the waxy coating defies all drops of water.
The honest verdict - are my shoes really waterproof?
While I wouldn't recommend jumping in a pool with your shoes on, this trick definitely provides a great solution to keeping your tootsies dry and the surface of your shoes looking cleaner. Not only that, but rather than the wax destroying the appearance of my trainers, I actually found that it improved the overall look - it definitely gets the thumbs up from me!
I hope you were as blown-away by this life hack as I was! Let me know if you get a chance to try it in the comments below.
It works but is their a way of waterproofing with a candle but no dryer
Hey anonomous! You will need a hairdryer to complete this particular method of waterproofing with a candle. There are other ways of waterproofing shoes you could try (waterproofing sprays etc) if you aren't able to get your hands on a hairdryer.
Can you use this wax and hair dryer method on snow boots? I live in my snow boots usually a cheap pair and my feet are soaked within 10 minutes.
Hi Ellen! What is the surface fabric like?
Sounds great. I will be trying this on all my sneakers. Thanks for this tip. I have been reading the tips on this site for a few years and still find new ideas to try, thanks Stephanie and team
Thank you so much, Jackie! It means a lot to have loyal readers like you.
Ok, so I hope that this will be the answer I'm desperately searching for! My 9 year old son's day/summer camp counselors/volunteers just let my son get soaking wet with water & mud and sends him back home without really any cleaning up prior to leaving the camp for the day. Some of the people who read this may think that I'm being a bit OCD about it, but let me get 2 things straight: 1. my son is nonverbal and was diagnosed with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder & ADHD when he was 3 years old. He does not like to have anything on his skin that is sticky or caked on (like 2 forms of mud). He is very particular about the clothes and shoes he wears. 2. The day/summer camp is for kids who have special needs/developmental disorders and kids who haven't met their developmental milestones yet. My son's socks are almost always soaked and of course his shoes are too! (His shoes are Fila athletic trainers/sneakers with more of the breathable mesh on the sides and a little bit on the top). SO with all of that said, I just got done with utilizing these tips - I already had a pound of clear paraffin wax at home (for making candles/wax melts). I wanted to try beeswax but I decided to follow these tips on my son's older shoes (pretty much same pair) with paraffin wax and depending on the results, I may have to try beeswax. I do have 1 question: what would be the ideal time to wait for the wax to [cure] to test it with some water? My mindset is that I should give it at least 6-8 hours (but that's my candle making brain). I appreciate any input! And I will definitely update on the my paraffin wax waterproofing and, if necessary, beeswax waterproofing. I will also gladly show this website to anyone who has children with special needs. :)
Thanks for sharing, Frae! I'm sad to hear that your son has been left in soaking wet clothing! As you're only applying a thin layer of wax to the shoes, it shouldn't need too long to cure. 1-2 hours ought to do the job, but you're welcome to leave it for longer if you feel it's needed. Good luck!
Trainers are not shoes in my book sorry
Interesting - we think they are!
I've got a feeling I read somewhere that banana skins also do this? Rub the skin over your shoes then buff off.
I've not heard of that, but it sounds interesting!
Firstly, Frae, you are NOT being OCD, it is quite right that you put your son's welfare first. But back to the topic, one slight problem with using a hard wax like paraffin wax is that once it has cured it hardens and may crack as the foot flexes, OK, I realise that only a thin layer needs to be applied and that the hair dryer will help it penetrate the fibres of the shoe but it will happen and the shoe will become less waterproof in a surprisingly short time. A better option might be to use a softer wax (beeswax was mentioned but floor polish, a neutral shoe polish or even that good old military option, "Dubbin" are all possibilities) but my personal option is to spray my trainers and walking boots with that good old standby WD40 or, indeed a silicon lubricant spray, it keeps my footwear waterproof or, at least, highly water resistant (I don't go swimming i them!). One of the areas that often gets missed, even using a "proper" waterproofing spray or liquid is the tongue of the shoe, so it is important to remove the laces and pay proper attention to that area too. To test whether of not my preferred method has worked, I stuff my trainers with paper old (newspaper will do just fine) making sure I get right down to the toes, give them a good soaking, I run them under the tap, making sure, of course, that water doesn't get in from the ankle area, leave it for about half an hour then take the paper out, if it's all still dry then job done but if there's any leakage, it will show up and give me some idea as to which areas need more attention. This is, of course, just my experience of managing the problem, maybe not as cheap as using candle wax (assuming you have candles or melt wax already available) but quite effective. Good luck Frae and I hope you find a solution that works for you.
Is it the heat and air from the dryer or just the heat that you need? Could you put the trainers in an oven until wax disappears at a warm temp?
The heat from a hairdryer helps the wax penetrate the shoe fabric and create a waterproof layer when using candle wax to waterproof shoes. An oven is not recommended as the temperature required to melt the wax is much lower than the temperature needed to bake shoes, which could potentially damage them.
I imagine if you do this on white trainers it will keep them clean to ?
Yes, if you use white candle wax, it should work. However, be careful, as it may discolour the shoes over time.
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