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Matthew Sklar

Joined: 09 Feb 2011

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 12:37 pm    Post subject: Preparing mail for wearing and general care of mail         Reply with quote

Hello! I'm new to these forums, and I have a few questions regarding a piece of mail that I recently bought (my first hauberk and coif! I'm very excited!). I've tried using the search function to find the information I'm looking for, but I'm still not sure of what to do. My questions involve how to prepare the mail for wearing (de-greasing and so on), and later, how to take care of/store the mail when not wearing it.

My mail is made of 16 gauge butted iron rings with a 5/16ths of an inch internal diameter. It came greased, and I have been told to remove the grease before wearing it. I have read that the best way is to use some sort of a solvent (such as lacquer thinner or that sort of thing). Is this true? Will dish soap or laundry detergent work as an alternative? If possible, I would rather not buy potentially caustic chemicals, because I don't want them around the house.

Next, I would need to know how to care for my mail and how to store it. I've seen plenty of posts regarding sand-tumbling, and this seems like a great method. This seems clear enough and I don't think I need clarification here. What I am unsure about is re-greasing the mail for storage. What type of grease do I use? For the sake of simplicity, can I use a non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam brand, which is made of canola oil)?

Finally, I have a question about wearing the coif. I've read that padding is recommended. Is that so? What kind of padding should I get, if so?

Thank you,
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Tjarand Matre

Location: Nøtterøy, Norway
Joined: 19 Sep 2010

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I degreased my riveted maille by sticking it in a bucket with a 5 litre can of biodegradable / veggie oil based automotive degreaser topped up with water to cover the maille. I left if for a few hours and every now and then stirred and shook the bucket.
I finally placed the bucket under hot running water for 30 minutes to rinse out the heavy mineral oil (do this AFTER your wife has taken her shower or you will suffer ;-).

The maille will, if you're lucky, come out of the bath lightly covered in a thin layer of residual oil that will prevent rust for a very long time.
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Robin Smith

Location: Louisiana
Joined: 23 Dec 2006
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 746

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If it is mild steel, I would NOT degrease it to wear unless you like the look of rusty maille. The mild steel needs some protective coating on it to hold up to the elements, and it doesn't take much oil from your skin to start the process. Oil works, but will stain whatever you wear the maille over. I use Ballistol, but CLP or Silcone Spray, or any gun or rod oil should work fine. If you do not like your soft kit getting stained and darkened by the grease, you can degrease and then coat with floor wax or equivalent. But the rings needs something on them to keep them from rusting...

As for storage, I keep my maille oiled and wrapped in an oily towel and put away in a dry closet. I've spent the last 2 years pretty much away from swords and armour, and my maille is fine. I just got it out the other day, after sitting up for the last couple years, and it looks exactly like the day I put it away.

Sand rolling is a period way of cleaning, but I find it very slow and ineffective. If you get a bad case of rust (which if you keep your maille well oiled and maintained you should not have much of a problem) sand blasting is a much quicker and more effective way of removing the rust. I've never had to do it, but I have friends that have and it works great.

You are definitely going to need some kind of arming cap to wear under the coif. Nothing wakes you up on an early spring morning like the feel of cold links against your neck...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Thom R.

Location: Tucson
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Reading list: 30 books

Posts: 630

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Matthew welcome to mA. This is one of those cases where it would be helpful if people knew where you were located otherwise making product recommendations is difficult. many of the things available in NA are not available in Europe and vice versa Big Grin
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Eric Allen

Location: Texas
Joined: 04 Feb 2006

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If its drenched in oil, you can get a lot off by rubbing with a rag. If you're looking to remove it (since it likely smells and will stain clothes and you want to replace with CLC or whatever), Simple Green, easily found at hardware and grocery stores in the US, works well and is not overly noxious, like lacquer thinner or such.
My first coif I just laid out and sprayed with Simple Green and wiped off the excess. I didn't let it soak, so it didn't remove all the oil.
My current cheap butted mail hauberk and coif wasn't overly oily when I got it, so I just left it as is. I store it in a cardbord box in a dry environment.

I'll second you wanting a coif. Keeps the links from grabbing your hair.
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Matthew Sklar

Joined: 09 Feb 2011

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed 09 Feb, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the quick replies! This is such a friendly community. Happy

((The vendor claims that it is made of just iron. Many of the things I've read about mail (including Robin's post right here) seem to imply that steel is more common. I'll ask him again for a clarification on the material of the hauberk I bought.)) Edited to change this to: I just spoke with the vendor, and he says that the mail comes from India, and the manufacturer says it is pure iron.

@ Thom: I'm in Quebec, Canada, so most products you'd recommend in the States should be available here. We've got most of the same chain stores, after all.

I don't actually have the mail in hand yet - I'll be picking it up on Monday, and I wanted to be ready for when I get it. I'm not sure how much oil it will have on it. Maybe it will be only a light coating that I can just leave on. I definitely would prefer to keep it rust-free!
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Stephen Burger

Location: United States
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Tue 06 Aug, 2013 8:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know this is an old thread but I too have recently gotten Indian maile drenched in what smells like spent motor oil (it's rank). I slipped it on to check fit (to see if I needed to return it) and I looked like I had spent too much time in the tanning bed when I got the thing off. I will have no problem working with soaps or solvents to remove the oil but as for replacement oil when I put it away; what can I use (I live in the US) that doesn't SMELL. My wife is very sensitive to the smells of solvents and they act as migraine triggers for her. I'd also like it not to stain, but that's optional. I was considering vegetable oils but they have limitations. I also don't plan to wear this and put it up for months on end. I'd like to expect to wear it fairly often meaning that oiling it heavily, packing it away and virtually stripping it bare for use and then quickly repeating the process won't do.



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Randy Cieszynski

Location: Bourbonnais,IL.
Joined: 12 Aug 2012

Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue 06 Aug, 2013 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

I absolutely hate the oil that it comes in!!! So here is what I did. I cleaned the maille in one of those orange cleaners(in a 5 gallon bucket) to get off the oil and let it dry by hanging it in front of a fan after rubbing with a towel. I wanted to to dry it as quickly as I could. I than used future floor polish(acrylic floor polish) to coat the mail in another 5 gal bucket. You want a couple of bottles.I would "swish the mail around in there for a few minutes. That will help remove some of the surface rust that has started since you took it out of the orange cleaner. It really does protect the mail from rust and the whole process doesn't stink that much and once you've coated the maille with future it smells good! The more you wear it the more often you have to put on another application of future, but it does last for multiple wearings. I think that future has changed its name to Johnson Clear. If you have any other questions, just ask.

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Josh Little

Location: Detroit, MI
Joined: 31 Mar 2011

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue 06 Aug, 2013 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I'm not terribly fond of petroleum-based oils on my skin and clothing, I use a product called FluidFilm. It's 90% lanolin and comes in an aerosol can. It was originally designed for use in high corrosion environments, primarily for metal that is exposed to sea water. It is fantastic stuff and I use it on all of my armor. Since it is non-staining and not harmful to leather I can simply just wipe each piece with a dry cloth, spray a bunch of the FF on it, and put it in the trunk. For my haubergon, I roll the shirt up in a towel that has been pretty much drenched in the FF. When I'm done with the mail, I lay it out in the towel, spray one side real well, flip the mail, spray the other side, and then just tightly roll the whole thing up.

Amazon Product Link:

You can also at times find it at larger hardware, industrial lawn care, or fleet/farm stores.

Josh Little
Ars Gladii - German Medieval Martial Arts
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Kel Rekuta

Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 616

PostPosted: Wed 07 Aug, 2013 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I second Josh's recommendation. Fluid Film is good stuff and it repels moisture much better than acrylic finishes like floor polish. BTW, I am convinced South Asian mail producers dunk their products in cheap axle grease. Nothing short of petroleum based solvents gets it all off mail. I am on the second week of soaking my latest haubergeon in Simple Green. Two gallons of SG in a five gallon bucket topped off with water and there are still greasy spots. One week in a batch then dumped and put a fresh solution on it. Ugh. WTF?!
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