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Steel Toe Work Boots FAQs

Are you planning on buying steel toe work boots? Here are some of the most common frequently asked questions about them.

Can steel toe boots cause foot problems?

Yes, steel toe boots can bring about some problems. You should note that these issues come about due to wearing the wrong boots.

The most common foot problems include:

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails often develop when you cut the big toenail too short. If you regularly wear steel toe boots, you must be wondering, do steel toe boots cause ingrown toenails?

Yes, you can develop ingrown toenails when you wear steel toe boots that are too tight at the front.

Due to the compression, the big toe and the second one press together in an unusual way resulting in inflammation and pain. You can treat the condition by replacing the tight shoe with a wider one.

You also should soak your foot in warm water at least three to four times a day. You will rarely need surgery due to an ingrown toenail.

To prevent this foot problem from coming about, trim the toenails straight across and wear safety boots with a wider toe box.


This is the benign growth of the nerve tissue, and it comes about due to wearing very tight shoes. Due to the condition, you suffer from excessive pain, burning sensations, and even numbness.

The pain due to the condition often radiates from the ball of the foot up to your toes. In most cases, you feel pain in all the toes, but on rare occasions, you might have the pain in specific toes, which usually requires surgery to fix.

Since this condition comes about due to wearing too tight work boots, you can avoid it by wearing comfortable steel toe work boots that are ideal for the task you are performing.

The cool thing is that there plenty of these shoes in the market that you can go for. You only need to choose the ones that are ideal for your application.


Corns and callouses come about when you wear uncomfortable work boots for extended periods. The corns form between the toes, but you can also have them in other sensitive areas of the foot.

When you are suffering from corns, the best way of treating them is by wearing a pad over the affected area to relieve the pain.

Prevention is always better than cure, and this is why it’s recommended that you always wear comfortable work boots.

When you are in the shoe store, try out the work boot, and ensure that it fits appropriately and leaves enough room for your toes to move freely. For ideal results, go for a boot that leaves a space of about 12.55 mm at the front.


Bunions come about due to genetic factors, but they can also come about due to wearing safety shoes that are too tight.

A bony protrusion characterizes bunions at the base of the big toe, which is not only unsightly but also causes a lot of pain.

When you develop the condition, you can treat it using ice, taping the toe, wearing a spacer, or wearing wider work shoes. If the condition had developed for a long time, you might have to undertake surgery to fix it.

If your genetic makeup doesn’t expose you to the condition, you can prevent it by investing in high quality and comfortable work shoes that provide you with enough support and protection.

Other problems

Other problems associated with steel toe work boots are: excessive heat in the shoe, the pressure resulting from the steel toe cap, pain in the ankles, heels, balls, and other parts of your foot.

You also tend to feel fatigued when you wear work boots that are too heavy for you.

The key to avoiding foot problems resulting from wearing steel toe work boots is to wear the right shoes. Wear shoes of the right size, comfortable, and have enough cushioning to provide you with enough comfort.

What do I consider when buying steel toe work boots?

It’s straightforward to buy steel toe work shoes—you only need to head to the stores and purchase the one you like. You can also order the units online.

To buy the right shoes, you need to consider several factors. Some of the factors to consider include:

Type of work

Where do you work? This will guide you in making the right purchase.

If you work at the construction site or any other area that requires you to stand the entire day, go for construction or ironworker work boots that support your knees and ankles.

If you work in an industry where you come into contact with electrical hazards, wear electricity resistant work boots.

If you aren’t sure of the right boots to wear for your work, there are plenty of online reviews where you can get as much information as you need. You can also ask an assistant in your local store to guide you in choosing the right shoe.


To be comfortable wearing your steel toe safety boots, you need to buy the most comfortable. When making the purchase, choose shoes that adequately support your ankles and knees. You should pay close attention to the width of the work shoe.

If the boot is too tight, it will hinder your movements. On the other hand, if it’s too broad, your feet will be moving too much inside, causing you to blister.

You also need to pay attention to the weight of the steel toe safety boots. As a worker, you will be on your feet for extended periods.

To avoid fatigue, avoid work boots that are too heavy as you will have problems dragging them the entire day. Too heavy boots also affect your knees and ankles.

The other factor to consider is the cushioning of the work shoe. Regardless of how good the work boot is, there is no way you will be comfortable if it’s uncushioned.

To be comfortable, ensure that the work shoe has cushion both on the insoles and outsoles.

My steel toe boots hurt, what can I do?

Work boots will hurt you for three reasons: they are of the wrong size, they are worn out, or you haven’t widened them.

If the boots are new, they might be narrow, which is the reason they might be hurting you. You need to widen the work shoes.

If they are too small, you need to invest in new ones.

If they are worn out, you may have to replace them with new ones. In some cases, you may have to replace the insole. There are plenty of cheap insoles you can buy in your local store.

To ensure that your steel toes don’t hurt, you need to invest in comfortable ones. There are plenty of ways of making it possible. Some of these ways include:

Buy the right fit

There is no way your work boots will be comfortable if you buy the wrong fit. This calls for you to try on the work boots before making the purchase.

When you are in the shoe store, wear the socks that you will be wearing to work. The socks not only keep you warm, but they also cushion your feet, keeping them comfortable with the entire project.

You should slide the steel top forward in the slip-on work boot until your toes touch the front of the boot.

You should then bend your knee forward and measure the space between the heel of your foot and the back of the shoe. For the shoe to be comfortable, space should be the size of the width of the index finger.

You should inspect the shoelaces. They should be snug and keep your feet comfortably in place.

The boots should allow your feet to slide to the front without being too tight. When wearing them, the shoes should flex at the ball of the foot—they shouldn’t bend at the arch area.

Buy a high-quality shoe

The next thing you should do to ensure that your steel toes don’t hurt is to buy work boots of high quality.

In addition to the high-quality shoes being durable, they also tend to be more comfortable; thus, you have comfortable boots that last for a long time.

When making the purchase, avoid boots made from cheap leather and linings. Also, prevent boots with a ripped lining as it will make the shoes uncomfortable to wear.

You should go for boots made from top-notch leather and with durable stitching.

To increase your chances of buying high-quality boots, buy from a reputable store. Some of the most prominent brands that you can go for are: Wesco, Timberland, Keen, Chippewa, and many others.

Wear the right boot for your needs

Another reason why your shoes might be hurting is that you are wearing boots that are of the wrong work. For example, wearing landscaping work boots for construction projects.

When you do this, you will not only be uncomfortable when executing your tasks, you will also damage the work boots.

To buy the right shoes, consider the construction, style, insulation, insulation, water resistance, weight, height, and any other factors that might be of value to you. You should match the features of the work you want to do with the boots.

Take good care of the steel toe boots

The boots might be hurting because they are in poor condition.

Work boots that are in good condition are not only comfortable to wear, they are also good to look at. The cool thing is that it’s easy to take care of the work boots.

One of the things you should do is to clean the boots as soon as you are done with the project. You should carefully remove any mud that might be on the shoes.

One of the best tools to use to clean the boots is a stiff brush. Once you are done, wash them with soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals as you risk damaging them.

After cleaning the steel toes, dry them. To speed up the drying process, remove the insoles.

If you had soaked the boots in water, it’s wise that you fill them with newspaper wads that will absorb the water, speeding up the drying process. Avoid drying the boots in excessive heat as they will get damaged.

Finally, after the boots have fully dried, condition them. There are plenty of conditioning treatments in the market that you can go for. Some of the most common are oil-based treatments such as Snoseal and redwing.

These soften the leather on the application. There are also silicone-based options such as Grainger and Nikwax that don’t soften the leather. It’s up to you to choose the ones that are right for your application.

Invest in insoles

Insoles increase the comfort levels in the work boots, ensuring that your shoes are as comfortable as possible.

If you aren’t engaging in strenuous projects, the generic insoles that come with the boots are enough to provide you with the comfort you need, but if you are in the construction arena, you may have to purchase additional high-quality insoles.

When buying the new work boot insoles, invest in those that provide you with great arch support.

The units should also be made from high-quality materials so that they can last for a long time and can effectively hold up the hard work you do.

How can I break in steel-toed shoes fast?

Yes, there is. There are very many ways of doing it. Some of these ways include:

Wear the work boots around the house

This is probably the easiest and cheapest way of breaking in the work boots.

All you need to do is wear the boots and walk in them around the house for a few hours every day. For ideal results, walk in them for a few weeks.

When you wear the boots, you allow the fibers in your shoes to mold to your feet. Wearing the shoes also allows your feet to get used to the feeling of the steel toe at the tip of your boot.

To cushion your feet, wear a pair of thicker socks. The socks not only increase your comfort, but they also stretch the boots slightly; thus, you have more comfortable boots to wear the next time.

It’s common to have issues wearing the boots, especially during the first few days due to a lack of flexibility. To make the shoes more flexible, bend the shoes back and forth before putting them on.

The stick treatment

Here you need to insert a broom or mop stick into the work boot aiming at the toe area.

You should then gently but firmly bend the boot over the work boot over the stick so that the leather stretches out on the most likely problematic areas.

A telltale sign that the boot has stretched is an outward discoloration of the leather.

If you have some money to spend, there are plenty of shoe stretchers in the market that you can go for. All you need to do is place the stretcher in the work boot and extend it until you achieve a tight fit.

Hot water treatment

This is the most common method used by men and women in the military. To break in the work boots utilizing this technique, you need to immerse the safety shoe in warm water and allow it to sit there for around 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes, empty the excess water from the boot and wear it for another 30 minutes.

During this time, the boots will mold to your feet, giving you a perfect fit. While wearing the shoes, they will dry on your feet, thus retaining the molded shape.

Before immersing the boots in water, ensure that you fully understand how to waterproof the shoes. You also should monitor the break-in process as too much soaking of the shoes would result in permanent warping and even damage.

Coldwater treatment

Just as you can use hot water to break in the safety boots, you can also use cold water to break them in. This method aims to stretch the leather using cold water.

You should do the process on a fully waterproofed boot and under strict supervision. If you aren’t keen during the process, you can easily damage the work boots.

To break in the shoes, you should fill a plastic bag with water and seal it after getting rid of the excess air. You should then place the water bag in the boot, positioning it in the areas that hurt.

You should then place the boots in the freezer and let them stay there overnight. As the water freezes, it expands, pushing the leather outward.

Once the boots are completely frozen, let the ice thaw out then remove the bag. If you have properly done it, the shoes should now befitting and comfortable.

You should be cautious when breaking in the boots using this method as you can easily damage the shoes (with low-quality leather) if you expose them to freezing weather.

The oily treatment

The method aims at making the leather fibers more malleable. For best results, use an oil leather conditioner that is specifically designed to do the breaking in the role. If you don’t have it, you should use mink oil.

To break in the boots, you should apply a thick coating of the conditioning oil to the upper section of the work boot.

You can also apply the oil on any particular area that is problematic to you. After using the oil, let it stay overnight so that it can soak into the leather fibers.

The following day, wipe away the excess oil that didn’t soak in and wear the boots. If you did it correctly, the work boots should be comfortable to wear.

Heat application

As mentioned above, heat loosens the leather fibers making the boots more flexible and comfortable to wear.

The method is fast, thus ideal, when you are pressed for time. For example, when you buy the shoes too close to the start of a project.

To break in the boots, use a hairdryer to apply heat to the problematic areas. You don’t have to worry about buying a fancy hair dryer—the regular, simple unit will do the work.

While this method is effective and gives you results almost immediately, be cautious as it can easily cause damage to your safety shoes.

In addition to using the above tips when breaking in the work boots, you also need to consider several other tips. Some of these additional tips include:

Buy the shoes early enough: This eliminates the need to use risky breaking in methods. It also prevents you from going to work in uncomfortable boots.

The best way of going about it is buying the work boots at least two weeks before the commencement of the project.

Buy fitting shoes: To reduce the time you spend breaking in the safety shoes, buy those that fit perfectly. This calls for you to try on the work shoes when making the purchase.

 Use the right tools: As you have seen above, there are plenty of tools you need to break in the work boots.

To ensure that you do it properly, use the right tools all the time. You also should make sure that you carefully monitor the breaking in process.


These are some of the most common steel toe work boots FAQs. To get the most from the boots, ensure that they are comfortable. This calls for you to buy them from a reputable store.

You also should take good care of the shoes by regularly cleaning them and applying conditioners on them.

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