Saturday, July 28, 2012

Neat's Foot Oil



Chris from Williamsburg asked about the origin of neat’s foot oil. That’s something I used in my youth to prep a new baseball glove.

Neat’s foot oil is made by boiling the heel of a cow. Neat is a very old word, going back to Old English, meaning a bovine animal, an ox or bullock, a cow or heifer. It is related to a cluster of words in Old Frisian, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, and Germanic, all of which designated livestock.

The Encyclopedia Brittanica has this: “After the slaughterhouse scraps are rendered in water, the oil is skimmed off, filtered through cloth, and subjected to two pressings, the first yielding pure neat’s-foot oil, used to lubricate fine machinery, the second, a lower grade, used in the textile and leather industries. The solid stearin obtained in the second pressing is used in soap manufacture.”

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