If you spend much time in the kitchen, odds are you will experience a burn at some point. Whether you grab a hot pan without an oven mitt, misplace your palm on a lit burner, or have issues lighting a grill, cooking is fraught with hot objects which have the potential to come into contact with skin. You could spend money on burn treatments sold in stores, or you could have one of my favorite houseplants: the aloe vera. It is an attractive succulent, easy to care for and proliferative if taken care of, and it has practical use.
First recognized by the Egyptians for its healing properties, there are several species of aloe vera. There are several hundred species alone in the genus “Aloe”. The “Aloe vera” is of course the most commonly known houseplant variety. The Aloe vera is actually only existant in cultivation, having no known native wild locations. There are some closely related species in Africa. Many many species of Aloe exist, with varied colors, temperaments, and locations, which you can purchase online or read more about here.
Most aloe species produce two natural products, a gel and latex. The gel is the sticky, gooey substance that “leaks” from cut leaves. Aloe latex comes from just under the skin of the leaves, and is yellow in color. It is typically the aloe gel that is used to treat sunburn and other minor skin irritations. WebMD states: “Some chemicals in aloe gel seem to be able to increase circulation in the tiny blood vessels in the skin, as well as kill bacteria. “
The scientific evidence of aloe as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent has been mixed. A pair of articles in the NYTimes summarizes some recent studies and their mixed results. Nonetheless, many generations of housewives have vouched for the faster healing times of minor burns and cuts due to heat, friction, or electricity by using the aloe gel. Since I always keep an aloe or three around the house, I am a strong believer in the “why not” philosophy. It certainly can’t make the burn take longer to heal.
So get yourself an aloe (they are cheap at garden centers, or ask a friend who has one for one of their sprouts next time their plant has a baby) and keep it around. Needing water only once a month or so, even the blackest of thumbs should be able to keep it alive. And next time you grab that cast iron pot handle after being on a burner…
My kitchen aloe plant
I burnt myself a little on my outside palm on a hot pan
Cut a piece of stem off, about 2-3 inches. Squeeze it, and some gel should ooze out.
Rub the aloe gel over the burn side to side, covering all of it generously.
Cover the burned area with a bandage to keep out infections, and wait. This tiny burn was almost completely healed within 48 hours.
Barely a scratch. Since my alternative option would be to treat this burn with nothing, I am glad I had my trusty aloe plant. I’ve also tried beverages which have aloe in them, claiming to aid in digestion and be all healthy… it’s a little weird having chewy chunks of aloe in your water, but hey, maybe it works for you. I’m gonna stick with healing burns faster.