For some jobs, good work boots are an essential tool. A sturdy pair of work boots will protect your feet at a construction site or keep them dry in a busy kitchen. If they fit well and are comfortable, they'll also keep you from having sore, aching feet even after a long day of standing and walking on them. However, work boots rarely fit perfectly right out of the box. It takes a little effort to achieve the fit that feels like the boots are perfectly contoured for your feet. This process is known as breaking in your boots, and everyone has a different opinion of how to do it. What is really the best way to break in a pair of work boots, and what commonly touted methods should you steer clear of? Check out a few handy dos and don'ts of breaking in your work boots for the perfect fit.

Do: Condition Your Boots

When you take your new boots out of the box, you'll notice that they're very stiff. That stiffness will be what causes your feet to hurt after eight or more hours of walking around in your boots. In order to break them in and make them comfortable, you'll want to loosen up the leather, and the best way to do that is by applying leather conditioner. The conditioner moistens the boots and allows them to move and bend more easily. It also prevents cracks in the leather, similar to how moisturizing your hands prevents dry, cracked skin.

Mink oil – a substance made from the fat of minks, usually after they've been harvested for their pelts – is widely considered to be one of the best substances to use for boot conditioning. You can find it in most shoe stores. Conditioning your boots with mink oil is easy. Just use a soft cloth to scoop out the oil, and rub it into your boots until the leather absorbs it. After you've thoroughly covered the boots in mink oil, allow them to dry overnight, then apply a second coat.

Don't: Fill Your Boots With Water

If you ask around, it's certain that someone will suggest this as a method for breaking in new boots. Others may suggest not just filling them with water, but actually submerging them in water. The logic behind this suggestion is understandable – the leather needs to be moisturized, so why not soak it in water? But don't do it.

Leather does need some moisture, but too much of it will warp the leather, making the boots unwearable. It's not worth the risk – conditioning your boots moisturizes the leather slowly and reliably, without drowning it.

Do: Walk Around In Your Boots At Home

Jumping straight in to a full day of work in brand new boots is a great way to come home with blisters. Your boots need time to conform to the shape of your feet, and it's just not something you can accomplish overnight.

Try wearing the boots for short periods of time every day at home. Each day, wear them a little longer than you did the day before. You'll be able to feel it as the boots start to mold to the shape of your feet. The first time that you take them to work, you may want to bring your old boots as a back up, just in case.

Don't: Apply Heat To Your Boots

Never put your boots in the oven on bake or aim a hair dryer at them, even if your coworkers swear by it. Heat is commonly suggested as a step in the process of bringing in boots – often it's suggested that you heat the boots before applying conditioner, or that you heat them after submerging them in water. Whatever the method suggested, it's a bad idea.

Heat causes leather to dry out and crack. Heating a new pair of boots is a good way to completely ruin them before you've even had a chance to wear them. It's unclear why heat is so commonly suggested as a method of breaking boots in, but there's no good reason to try it.

Taking the time to go to websites, moisten, soften, and mold your boots before you wear them to work may seem time consuming, but it's worth it. Your feet have the difficult task of supporting your body all day long while you work, and a pair of boots that's carefully and gently broken in will protect your feet while they do their important work.