Hydrolysis, And Tips To Avoiding It
Garmont, one of our boot suppliers takes all things into consideration when they design their boots. Comfort, flexibility, durability and of course, great quality boots. After a lot of wear and tear though, your boots can succumb to damage and decomposition, otherwise known as hydrolysis.
Hydrolysis is defined as the chemical breakdown of a compound due to reaction with water. It is a result of the specific compound, Polyurethane that is found in the soles of your boots, deteriorating, and disintegrating. This can therefore cause the sole of your boot to detach. In most high quality hiking boots, this compound is used as it is the best material for boot performance. Soles that contain this Polyurethane wedge are great for support and impact absorption for long spans of time, but unfortunately they are still subject to aging. This aging causes the sole to harden and directly damages it’s adhesive properties, which can affect the support and cushioning that the sole is designed to provide.
Also, when taking into consideration the amount of rain, snow and wetness you will endure throughout a hike or backpacking trip, hydrolysis is a huge component and risk at any time. Hydrolysis is what you are seeing when the sole part of your boots starts to crumble into a dust-like substance. Here we are giving you the top tips on how to avoid this hydrolysis in your Garmont and even in other boots.
1. CLEAN YOUR BOOTS After a long hike, you come home and want a nice long shower to clean off the dirt and sweat from your day. Before you leave your dirty hiking boots at the door to harden with dirt, it is crucial to take the time and clean your boots as hydrolysis can occur quicker with dirty boots. Some things that go into cleaning your boots include, removing the footbed and laces, so that you are able to clean hard to reach places like the tongue and gusset with shoe care and conditioning products. For boots that have hardened soil or dirt on them, cleaning them off with a brush and warm water first is key before applying any other cleaning products.
Choosing a shoe cleaning product is important to keeping your boots looking good as new. Garmont recommends using specialized boot cleaners, saddle soap or a solution of 80% water and 20% dish soap or vinegar. We also recommend finding more natural cleaners and staying away from bar soap and detergents to prevent further breakdown of your boots.
In addition, you should be using a special boot brush, or a toothbrush to do the scrubbing, making sure to reach all the cracks and crevices. All cleaning of boots should be done by hand, and not using washing machines.
2. USE YOUR BOOTS Another key part of preventing Hydrolysis is utilizing your boots to their potential. When you are buying a pair of hiking boots, they should not be saved for some days when you are planning to go out hiking, they should be your main hiking boot that is used on a frequent basis.
Storing your boots for long periods of time allows for moisture to develop and absorb into the soles of your boots, in turn causing hydrolysis. Getting your boots out into open air, providing movement and keeping them chemically “active” will prevent the Polyurethane in the boot from breaking down, which leads to the peeled sole caused by hydrolysis. It is crucial to take your boots out, even on short hikes and walks between trips.
Hydrolysis can hide inside the boot’s sole when they are stored for long periods of time and come out during usage. It is especially important to give your old boots a test run before hiking trips, so that a long planned hiking vacation is not ruined by a peeling sole.
3. DRYING AND STORING BOOTS When boots are soaking wet, whether that is from your most recent hike or cleaning, this is another point at which Hydrolysis can occur, as the Polyurethane is most susceptible to damage during these times of moisture and wetness. When your boots become wet, it is important to set them out to dry in a covered, cool area outdoors, or in a well ventilated area of your home.
To help with the drying process, wiping them down with a towel after initial soaking and putting newspaper inside of the boot can help to eliminate moisture while keeping the boots shape and form.
When your boots have initially dried, placing them into a shoe box or shoe bag with enough ventilation is important to protecting the boot, in turn preventing Hydrolysis.
4. HEAT AND HYDROLYSIS Scientifically, heat can speed up the process of hydrolysis in your boots. When you are deciding on your next hiking trip, try to avoid high heat hiking locations. Hydrolysis is heightened by heat, so if you are frequently hiking in areas such as deserts or extreme temperatures, you should expect more breakdown and damage.
Heat also comes into play when you are drying and storing boots. When you are drying your boots you should make sure to not use a dryer, heater or anything of that manner as those processes can melt and damage the boot’s form. After they are fully dry, make sure you are storing them in a darker, colder area. Overall, cleaning your boots after usage, correct storage and drying and avoiding heat are all important to preventing the dreaded hydrolysis that can ruin your boots. The listed methods above will keep your Hiking boots looking good as new for years to come. When all else fails, boot soles are replaceable, but keep in mind that the preventative measures above can prevent your boots from needing this.
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