What on earth is 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 grows 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 and in wet tree lined areas that are heavily infested with mosquitos.

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 plant.  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 the formula?  Water acts as a carrier for the lye, and the lye when blended with the oils begins the “saponification” process, also known as the blending and formulation of soap from two solutions that never mix (oil and water).  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!!!

A number of our customers tell us of their success with the soap in reducing the effects of poison ivy.  Some of our customers wash with the soap before hitting their garden, knowing that poison ivy is present in their gardens.  Others keep a bar for relief once they have been exposed.  But nothing proved it more than the time a groundskeeper at Lakeside stopped at our booth, expressed how desperate she was to find relief from the poison ivy on her legs from knee to ankle.  They were red, raised whelts that both stung and were itchy, wheepy.  We suggested the jewelweed soap and she bought a bar, went back to her lodging and took a shower using it.  She turned up to visit us the next day and wow, her legs were healing and she was reporting the itch was gone, and the burning sensation was greatly relieved.  So we watched as it was working right before us.

We have a good supply of jewelweed soap on hand – if you would like to buy a bar we are happy to ship it to you for free. Visit this link (click the picture below):

This is jewelweed soap, a light cream colored soap, gently wrapped and packaged.

We have been fortunate to harvest jewelweed for several years, and making the soap.  This year the plan is to infuse some of the jewelweed into oil, and trial a solid lotion bar infused with the jewelweed tincture.  Stay tuned.  We can’t pick jewelweed until late june.  Updates coming in july!