Have you ever raced into the steamy kitchen as the timer screeched its warning, thrown open the oven door in haste to check for doneness, and reached out a vulnerably flesh-covered hand for whatever molten-hot piece of metal or ceramic lay waiting inside, only to notice half a second too late the oven mitt you intended to slip on staring mockingly from its perch on the counter beside you? Or perhaps that poor little hand, so battered and scraped from life in the kitchen, has bumped into a burner or pot on the stove top and caused you to jump and shake it and curse the gods who invented this evil creature, The Flame.
I know that dance of pain, that shake of the hand in the air in a futile attempt to fling heat from flesh, and I know the cursing, probably better than many a sea-faring fellow. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too careless for the kitchen. Am I the only one who will safely pull a stainless steel skillet from the oven only to fully grip its smoldering handle with a bare hand not five minutes later?
I performed that particular feat just two weeks ago. Brow furrowed at the state of my short ribs swimming in a bubbling bath of syrah and herbed stock, mind intent on success and unaware of danger, my left palm embraced the hot steel, and my fingers encircled it in heedless unison.
I'm not at liberty to repeat the slew of filth that poured from my mouth at this point in the story. You can fill in the blanks with your own profanity.
After the initial rush to the faucet for a lengthy interval under the coldest water I could run, my hand got a dose of gelatinous innards from my beloved aloe vera plant. My new best friend.
I grew up in a household that kept a bottle of bright green gel pocked with little air bubbles on a shelf in a cabinet for use on sunburns. Aloe vera gel, as far as I knew, came from the drugstore and was applied to sun-scorched skin in the summer time. It was a cooling, soothing remedy for the shoulders after a long day of cannon balls and Marco Polo at the public pool. Later, traveling to Hawaii introduced me to this plant in the wild. After my first full day on Maui and subsequent sunburn, I lathered the goo from one of the numerous plants lining the edges of Little Beach onto my pink, peeling nose. Ahhhhh, nature's burn cream.
As it turns out, it's relatively easy to make your own, more natural version of the neon-green gel sold at the drugstore. This recipe comes from the LiveStrong website. Much thanks to them. Store it in the refrigerator for longer life and to increase the cooling factor.
So, next time you find yourself doing the oh-my-god-it-burns dance
- Run very cold water over the burn immediately for 10+ minutes, and
- Slather on some of your chilled aloe vera gel for faster healing.
Homemade Aloe Vera Gel
for use on 1st degree burns
leaves from a healthy aloe vera plant (the larger the plant, the more aloe you can extract)
liquid citric acid
- Use the largest leaves from the aloe vera plant. Use a knife to cut the leaves from the bottom of the plant at an angle. Then wash and dry the leaves.
- Again with a knife, cut the tips and jagged edges from the leaves, then cut lengthwise through the center of the leaves to separate the tops from the bottoms.
- Use a spoon to scrape the gel from both sides of the leaves.
- Add one drop of citric acid and the contents of one vitamin-E capsule for every 1/4 C. gel extracted. Stir until well combined, and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
For more detailed information on treating 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns, visit the Ask Dr. Sears website.