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I have a few pair of shell cordovan shoes that continually bloom the white powdery residue. I also have a few pair that do not and never have bloomed. I've read that it's the fat within the shell that leaches out. I kind of enjoy pulling them out of their felt bags and brushing off the residue before wearing them.

Presumably this blooming happens until all the fat is gone, or at least stabilized. Any ideas how long this takes? I have a couple pair over two years old that are still going. I suppose, once the blooming ends...better order a pair to replace it, plus a backup pair!
 

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I do not think a cessation of blooming means that they shoe is at the end of its life at all. I too have 2 year old pairs that still bloom, and others that never did at all. The tanning process is a very old one---I don't think it can be counted on like a quartz watch.
 

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It's been my experience that shell looks best and exudes less of the white stuff if you vigorously brush them with a quality horsehair shoe brush before and after each wearing. Doesn't have to take 10 or even 5 mins, just a good hard brushing before you put them on and after you take them off at the end of the day. Rubbing with a flannel cloth (or in my case, a microfiber mitt) adds that last bit of mirror shine, but you can definitely get away with just the brush. Brush your shells regularly and you'll stop seeing the white stuff.
 

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^Interesting observation Uncle. Come to think of it, it is the worst on whiskey that I have not worn for awhile, and slightly better in cigar. I do have a pair of #8 LHS that had some bloom after not being worn for about 6 weeks, but a very small amount.

Do you think the lack of bloom on lighter color reflects an "unhealthy" shoe?
 

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This is an interesting topic. Everybody has had different experiences with the white residue.

I've had burgundy, black and mahogany sweat that white residue.

The worst were the mahogany shell.
Years ago when I first bought mahogany shell I could brush and wipe them with a cloth,
wear them for less than an hour and see the surface getting oily again.

Some of my shoes from Alden and Allen Edmonds developed that residue and some didn't.

When I was visiting the Allen Edmonds store a few years ago the clerk handed me an article about shell cordovan.
It stated that the white residue is sheep tallow. I'm not sure if that's correct or not.
But I've always wondered what the residue was for sure, vegetable or animal fat.
 

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^Interesting observation Uncle. Come to think of it, it is the worst on whiskey that I have not worn for awhile, and slightly better in cigar. I do have a pair of #8 LHS that had some bloom after not being worn for about 6 weeks, but a very small amount.

Do you think the lack of bloom on lighter color reflects an "unhealthy" shoe?
NO!

Enjoy wearing
 
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