Lanolin is a natural oil produced by sheep, it is what gives sheep a waterproof fleece. However lanolin is removed during the processing of fleece to yarn. So in order to waterproof your sheep’s wool wrap you need to re-lanolise it periodically.
Step 1 – washing
Before lanolising you need to wash your wool wrap. You should always use a dedicated wool shampoo for this so you do not damage the fibres. I recommend either Disana or Eucalan.
New wool wraps
New wraps need treating with lanolin ideally three times before using (even if they say they’ve been lanolised I’d still treat them myself first). Follow the lanolin instructions below, leaving the wrap to soak for around an hour the first time. Then a couple of hours / overnight for the second treatment. Finally, leave the third treatment overnight. There’s no need to dry the wrap in-between each treatment, just squeeze out the water and start again.
Re-treating wool wraps
If you’re just topping up your wool wrap after washing it then you only need to treat it the once. Follow the instructions below, ideally leaving the wrap to soak overnight.
Step 2 – creating the lanolin solution
These instructions are for using solid lanolin, you can get lanolin conditioner which is like a ready-to-use version. If using the conditioner follow the instructions on the packet for use.
You will need, 1/4 tsp of solid lanolin, couple of drops of wool shampoo, boiling water.
Add your lanolin to a bowl with a small amount of boiling water. Pop a couple of drops of wool shampoo in, this will turn the water cloudy which shows that you are correctly emulsifying the solution. Stir until the lanolin has melted.
Then add a litre of lukewarm water. Double check this is lukewarm (below 30c) before adding your wrap.
Step 3 – treating the wool wrap
Submerge your wrap into the solution. Gently squeeze and swish it around, never rubbing or wringing. Turn it inside out and the correct way round a few times to ensure the lanolin has worked its way through the fibres.
Leave to soak for the required period of time (see above).
Step 4 – finish
Once soaked, remove from the water and pour away. Gently press and squeeze the wrap to remove excess water – never wring it. Then lay onto a towel and roll the towel up, press and squeeze the towel to soak up more excess moisture. Unroll and place somewhere flat to dry – never directly on a heat source. Depending on the wrap it could take a few days to dry fully.
The wrap may well feel a little tacky, that is a good sign it means the lanolin is present.