When I was little, I loved watching my mum cooking. Loved it. I still do. I’ll sit in the kitchen, on a counter, out of the way. I help when I can, or when she wants me to, but mostly I sit on the counter – out of the way. I learned to cook at her side. She’s a good cook. I have learned a lot from her. But one thing I never managed to get down was wearing oven mitts.
I’m terrible at wearing them. I have had roommates stop me and put towels in my hands when I’m reaching into the oven or tossed onto the handle onto my cast iron pan. I have burn scars on my wrists and fingers and the back of my hands. The first time I did it, I mean the very first time, my grandmother was there and she put a pat of butter on it. I thought that was the be all and end all for burns.
The Butter Pat
Fast forward… several years… I’m older now. I live on my own. I cook my own food and still burn my hands (I really don’t know why I can’t learn that lesson). But I do know now that butter doesn’t really help. It feels good, but seems to make the blisters happen faster. The science there is that putting butter or other greasy ointments on a burn may actually make things worse, since the grease will slow the release of heat from the skin. This causes more damage from the retained heat.
The Best Burn Ointment
So I had to make a new burn fix. Particularly after I grabbed the cookie sheet out of the oven and managed to move it to the top of the oven (you should see the mark that left). It hurt, it wasn’t a 3rd degree burn, but it hurt. A lot. I didn’t have neosporin, or anything else, so while I stood in my kitchen with my hand wrapped in a tea towel dampened with cool water. I thought about what I should do.
Two things came to mind: coconut oil, aloe vera gel. Obviously.
I thought about aloe vera first. I use aloe to style my hair and soothe my sunburns (I’m a redhead, I get sunburns in winter so I always have it on hand). But I also know that aloe has been for the used for the treatment of burn wounds and specifically to aid in the healing process by reducing both inflammation and scaring. I grabbed it and brought it into the bathroom.
In the bathroom I saw my coconut oil. Now, my brother’s fiancee has been studying naturopathic medicine for a while. She makes us healing salves and balms and everything else for the holidays. She always includes a little list of ingredients, where she writes out all the details of what the ingredients are good for. Her little card for coconut oil says, “topically, coconut’s healing effects are its ability to accelerate skin regeneration, improve antioxidant enzyme activity, and stimulate higher collagen within the tissue being repaired” (thanks, Kimmi!).
So I mixed the two of them together and smeared it over my fingers and wrapped them back in the towel. I kept my hand up and waited it out. Smearing more of the stuff on my hand every time it started to hurt again. I thought about it some more. And then it hit me.
Turmeric I’ve been using in my cooking and my breakfast smoothies for a while now, I know all about the antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of the stuff. So I sprinkled some into my aloe/coconut mixture the next morning.
After day 2 the pain was gone
After day 3 the swelling had gone down
After day 7 I could barely tell I had been burned at all.
So here’s the recipe (which I keep, on hand, in a tiny jar in my kitchen at all times now).
1/2 cup of aloe gel
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 tsp of turmeric.
Mix it together and let it sit in a cool dark place for a few days so it combines and then use when you need it. Make sure to store it in a cool, dark place. It’s good for about 3 months. After that, the turmeric is too old and doesn’t work as well.
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