Jewelweed

Jewelweed – ever heard of it?  Do you make jewelweed soap?  Hey do you have that soap that is good for poison ivy?

Yes, for the past few years we have been hearing this over and over.  And we have had to say “uh, no, sorry, we dont have it.” primarily because we have not had knowledge of it, or known of it growing in the city.  Ah, but we have been researching and we put out a general call for sources of this rampant weed that grows in most of North America.

So what is jewelweed, and why use it with treating poison ivy?

Jewelweed is grown wild and widely throughout most of North America.  Those who know wild plants, and have studied their uses will tell you that First Nation people have utilized jewelweed for poison ivy, and insect bites, especially mosquito bites.  Oddly enough jewelweed is notoriously known to grow right next to poison ivy.

Jewelweed is the wild cousin to annuals known as impatients.   It is neutral in scent.

In my search of the internet I found this as the description on allnature.com:

Jewelweed is best known for its skin healing properties. The leaves and the juice from the stem of Jewelweed are used by herbalists as a treatment for poison ivy, oak and other plant induced rashes, as well as many other types of dermatitis. Jewelweed works by counter-reacting with the chemicals in other plants that cause irritation. Poultices and salves from Jewelweed are a folk remedy for bruises, burns, cuts, eczema, insect bites, sores, sprains, warts, and ringworm. Read on to learn to make your own poison ivy treatment ice cubes with Jewelweed.

Jewelweed is a smooth annual; 3-5 ft. Leaves oval, round- toothed; lower ones opposite, upper ones alternate. A bit trumpet shaped, the flowers hang from the plant much as a jewel from a necklace, Pale Jewelweed has yellow flowers, Spotted Touch-Me-Nots have orange flowers with dark red dots. The seeds will ‘pop’ when touched , that is where the name Touch-Me-Nots came from. The Spotted Jewelweed variety is most commonly used for treating poison ivy rashes although the Pale Jewelweed may also have medicinal properties

So what are we doing with the jewelweed?

  • Create a tea of some of the botanicals.  This tea will replace the water in the soap making process. (Did you know that every batch of soap has small amounts of water in them?  Water acts as a carrier for the lye, and the lye when blended with the oils begins the “saponification” process.  Simply put, it is the process of bringing the oils and lye together and allowing liquids to solidify, and pH neutralize to create soap.
  • Create an oil tincture of the botanicals.  This would be crushed and cut jewelweed gently warmed in olive oil and allowed to release the juice of the plant into the oils.  This tincture is then strained, and capped in a jar.  The tincture can be blended with beeswax to create a balm to roll over poison ivy affected skin.
  • Create Jewelweed Soap – We have a recipe, and we have been researching the process, as it requires a slower process, and a more gentle hand.  If rushed the properties that are beneficial in the jewelweed are broken down by the cold processed formula, so the entire process slows down majorly!!!

And Thank you Linda Zeiter for allowing us to forage and pick the jewelweed from your fields… Thanks for making the experiment possible!!!

As we begin the process we will post pictures and a blog post!!


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