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Expert Tips On How To Widen Steel Toe Boots

The primary concern with people who have just bought steel-toe work boots is that they are too narrow for their feet.

If this is the case with yours, you are on the lucky side as I’m going to give you expert tips on how to widen steel toe boots.

Things you will need

To widen the boots, you need a few things that vary depending on the method of widening the work shoes.

Method 1: Wearing work boots

  • The work boots in question. You will wear these boots to widen them.

Method 2: Freezing

  • Ziplock bag that you will carry the water you need for the process
  • Water–you will place frozen water (in a zip lock bag) in the steel toe boots

Method 3: Using alcohol

  • 70% rubbing alcohol. You will rub the alcohol on the boot and, in the process, relax the leather, which makes it widen easily.

Method 4: Using stretching sprays

  • Boot stretching sprays. There are many of them in the store. You only need to find the ideal spray for your work boot.

Method 5: Using a boot stretcher

  • Shoe stretcher. Shoe stretchers come in different sizes and are made from different of different materials. Just like with boot sprays, you should choose a boot stretcher that is the ideal size for your work boot.

Method 6: Stretching the work boot using heat

  • A hairdryer that you will use to heat the work boot​
  • Hot water. You pour hot water on the work boots if they are waterproof​

Method 7: Using sticks to widen work boots

  • Broom or mop stick that you stick to the work boot​

Method 8: Widening the work boots using oil

  • Mink or leather conditioner that you apply on the outer parts of the work boot​

How To Widen Steel Toe Boots

Method #1: Stretching the work boot by Freezing

This method comes in handy when you just bought the work boots and want to wear them to work the following day.​

1. Fill a bag with water​

2. Put the bag inside the work boot after removing all the air​

3Place the boot with the bag in the freezer overnight.​

Fundamental physics teaches us that when water condenses, it expands, which results in the stretching of the steel toe work boot.​

4. In the morning, remove the boot from the freezer and let the ice thaw for at least 20 minutes.​

Avoid removing it too soon as you will end up damaging the boot. Studies also show that doing it too soon results in cracks on the boot.​

Method #2: Wear the work boots


This is a no-brainer. To tell whether the shoes are fitting or not, you need to wear them.

While this method is highly effective, it’s slow and can take you several weeks before it stretches the boots enough.

1. Wear the boots daily for a few weeks. In addition to this widening your shoes, it also allows you to get used to the steel at the tips of your foot.

This is especially important if you have never worn steel-toed work boots before.

2. If you find the shoes uncomfortable, you should consider putting on a pair of thick steel toe socks.

3. When it comes to the sole, you should bend the body of the boot back and forth a few times before you wear the shoes.

4. When you do this for a week or more, the boots should be wide enough, and you can wear them comfortably to work.

Method #3: Loosening the work boot using alcohol

Just as alcohol loosens you up, it also relaxes the work boot fibers, thus making it broader and more comfortable to wear.

To loosen the work shoe using alcohol, you need to use a spray gun to apply 70% rubbing alcohol on the work boot.

1. Soak the work boot in the alcohol​

2. After the boot has soaked in the solution, put it on for a few minutes to force it to widen.

You can let the boots dry while on your feet or remove them and place them in an area where they will dry comfortably.

The fantastic thing about widening your work boots using this method is that you can use it several times.

3. If you feel that the boots aren’t wide enough, reapply the alcohol and repeat the process.

Method #4: Stretching the steel toe work boots using stretching spray

Many people shy from using boot stretching sprays as they are expensive, but if you have the budget, go ahead and use them.

The sprays work like rubbing alcohol, where they loosen the leather fibers and widen the work boot in the process.

You can find the stretching sprays in your local stores or online.

1. Apply the spray on the entire work boot or at the specific problem area.

2. Wear the work boot for some time to stretch it out.

Since the sprays are easy to carry, you can go with them to work and use them during the day when you notice a problematic area.

Method #5: Widening the boots using a steel-toed stretcher

If you are wondering, can you stretch steel-toe boots? Yes, you can do it, and one of the best tools to do the work is a steel-toe boot stretcher.

The stretcher is a mechanical device that extends the work boot to your desired length and width.

For you to stretch the work boot using the method, you need to:

1. Insert the stretcher the way that you want to stretch the work boot.

2. Set your preferred size and turn the lever for the stretching to occur.

3. Keep the work boots in the stretched state for 1-2 days for the stretch to stick.

Method #6: Stretching the work boot by Heating

​Are you wondering, “can I stretch steel toe boots with heat?” Yes, you can.

However, you should be cautious when using this method as it is highly risky and can result in extensive damage to the work boots.

How to stretch steel toe boots with heat:

1. Wear steel toe socks and then use a hairdryer to heat the outsides of the work boot.

The heat from the hairdryer will loosen the leather fibers, and since you will be wearing thick socks, you will easily widen the boots.

2. Continue wearing the work boots until they have cooled down.

3. After cooling, apply a leather conditioner to restore the integrity of the leather.

4. If you have waterproofed work shoes, pour hot water on them and widen.

Method #7: Using Stick treatment to widen the work shoe

This is a simple method of widening your work boots. To widen your steel toe work boots using this method, you need to:

1. Stick a broom or mop stick to your footwear.

2. Aim the stick to the part that is pinching you—usually the heel or toe.

3. Firmly bend the work shoe over the stick, and in the process, you will cause the leather to stretch out of the sole, thus widening it.

A telltale sign that the work boot has widened is the outward discoloration of the leather material.

Pro tip:
While this method is simple and highly effective, avoid overstretching the work boot as you risk damaging it.

Method #8: Widening the work boot using oil

Here you need mink oil or a leather conditioner.

1. Apply a substantial amount of oil on the outer parts of the work boot, focusing on the pinching areas.

2. Let the oil stay on the boot overnight.

3. In the morning, remove the excess oil and wear the work boot.

The role of the oil or leather conditioner is to soften the work boot so that it stretches easily when you wear it.

4. Avoid applying too much oil to the extent that it becomes difficult to remove.

5. If you apply the oil and the boot doesn’t get wide as you want, repeat the process.

Signs you are wearing tight steel toe work boots.

There are plenty of signs you can use to tell whether you are wearing work boots that are too tight. Some of these signs include:

  • Discomfort when working
  • Blisters or bruised toenails
  • Foot aches at the end of the day
  • Toes grazing the tips of the work shoes

Why do you need to widen your steel toe work boots

how to widen steel toe boots

Expanding the work shoes comes with plenty of benefits. One of the advantages is that you are comfortable when working.

This translates to more productivity; thus, you finish the project fast and earn more in the long run.

The other benefit is that you protect yourself from issues that come with wearing tight work boots.

The most common problems that come when you wear tight shoes include:


Bunions are a bone deformity characterized by the big toe turning inwards towards the second toe.

In most cases, there are no symptoms, but if you continue wearing the boots for a long time, you stand to experience throbbing pain and inflammation.

To fix this problem, widen your work boots or find a work boot with a wider toe box.

If you have had the condition for a long time, consider undergoing surgery.


The hammer toe deformity comes about when the toes curl up, instead of lying flat, usually at the middle toe joint.

The condition comes about due to the weakening of the muscles that attach to the toes.

This is as a result of wearing tight shoes for a long time.

In addition to wearing wider shoes, other treatment options that you have include: wearing toe splints, icing, taping, and undergoing surgery.


Corns are usually raised, soft tissues form between the toes, often due to friction and pressure from wearing tight work boots.

To fix the issue, apply a foam pad over the corn, thus relieving the pressure.

You also should consider wearing wide safety shoes that won’t smash the toes together.

Crossover toes

They result when you wear the tight work boot for a long time to the extent that the steel toe box forces the second or third toe to move the adjacent toe.

Symptoms of the condition include: swelling, sores on the crossing toe, and paint on the ball of the foot.

The treatment options available include: ice, using spacers, tape, and wearing wide work boots.

In extreme cases, you might need to undergo surgery.

Ingrown toenails

You will have ingrown toenails when you cut the nail too close to the tip such that the pin doesn’t have enough room to grow upward as it usually does.

Instead, the nail turns inward and begins developing into the soft tissues of the toe.

With this condition, you not only need to wear wider work boots, but you also need to undergo nail debridement at the podiatrist’s office.


A neuroma is a benign growth of the nerve tissue along the nerve pathway.

When you are suffering from the condition, you tend to experience pain, burning sensations, and numbness from the ball of the foot to the toes.

In most cases, neuromas affect the third and fourth toes, but they can also affect the other toes.

The best treatment option for the condition is surgery.


These are some of the tips on how to widen steel toe boots. You should note that you don’t have to expand the shoes every time you buy them.

To avoid doing it, wear boots that are fitting or have a wide-toe box.

This calls for you to try on the work boots at the store before you part with your money.

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