July 16, 2020

Essential Oils for Burns

Chalk this one up to experience. Last week, I spilled a pot of boiling canner water on my bare feet. The whole thing, as I carried it out the back door. I do my canning on my enclosed back porch, but once I'm done, I put the pot of hot water outside to cool. This helps keep at least some of the heat off the back porch. After the water cools, it's given to nearby potted plants. The water in this pot, however, spilled all over the top of my feet.

When I was a small child, I got second degree burns on my legs when someone accidentally poured freshly percolated coffee on my lap (this was in the days before drip coffee makers). My thighs were covered with burn blisters as a result, and this is what I feared would happen to my feet. I had to do something quickly.

The first thing I did was fill another large pot with the coldest water I could get from the faucet, and I submerged my feet in it. Did you know that insulating a burn from air stops the pain? Our tap water isn't very cold, but it stopped the pain until I lifted my feet out. I sat there as long as I could, but I still had a big clean-up job to do and needed to get to it. So I slathered the burns with aloe vera gel, got my clean-up done, and then put my feet back into the cool soaking water as fast as I could.

A little research on essential oils for burns told me I had several on hand that would help: peppermint, lavender, and tea tree. Essential oils are very strong and must be diluted, usually with a carrier oil such as olive or coconut. Instead, I used aloe vera gel.

Soothing Burn Gel
  • 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
  • 2-3 drops each of these essential oils
    • peppermint (anti-inflammatory, analgesic)
    • lavender (anti-inflammatory, analgesic)
    • tea tree (soothes, inhibits infection)
Mix well and apply to burn generously several times a day.

Instant relief. The peppermint has an immediate cooling effect which is very soothing. Best if all, no burn blisters. 

Wearing socks and shoes was uncomfortable for a couple of days, but tolerable. I'm just thankful it wasn't worse.


  1. Leigh, OUCHIE!! Quick thinking. You should soak your burn for 20 minutes because that's how long it will take to normalize the temperature and the body to stop sending excess body fluids to combat the heat (swelling). Aloe is good but I also make peppermint vinegar by the gallon each year. It will pull the burn out. I'll follow it with an aloe gel with tea tree and peppermint salve for the reasons you mentioned.

    FWIW I never move filled, hot canners. I'll dump 3/4 of the water down the drain (via a pitcher). It may mean more steps but 2 qts of liquid is easier to control and not so messy to clean up.

  2. So good to know! I'm so glad you get blisters, and will bookmark this post for future reference.

  3. Oh no! I'm glad you kept your head and took immediate action. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Jo, even after all that I'll still carry the water pot out! When we're in dry spells like we are now, I just can't put water down the drain if I can help it!

    Michelle, it would be a good recipe to write down in an herbal first aid book!

    Tpals, immediate action is key with burn. Jo gave a good explanation of why above. I'm just glad I could do it!

  5. Yep, I swear by cool water and aloe vera gel. And I'm with you about conserving water. I totally understand the move. (No rain her for 3 weeks and 90+ degree days.) Next time you might want to dip out the hot water into smaller containers to take out of the kitchen. So glad you didn't blister and that you're healing up. Take care, Kris

  6. Oh, I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I've used aloe vera straight from the plant on burns and bug bites. Works like a charm. Good to know about the EO as an additional benefit.

    Hoping you heal quickly.

  7. Kris, that would definitely be a wiser way to do it!

    Daisy, that's exactly why I grow aloe! It's the best for burns and bug bites. The EOs are a nice healing addition, and I can attest to how well they work.

  8. Oh, Leigh, that could have been so much worse. I think about the possible scalding situations all during my canning jobs. To bottle up my jams, I have to carry the double batch of bubbling fruit three or four feet from stove to counter and I am always super-careful and say a little prayer when I make the move. The canner full of water is too heavy for me to lift from the back burner and I don't feel safe asking my husband to carry it outside (as you do) so I just put the lid back on it and suffer with the continued raised temp in the kitchen/house. Our burn remedy is one aloe vera plant that has been hacked up for that purpose over the years. (Cold water first, of course.) But good to know your other suggestions, and Jo's, too, for burns.

  9. Growing up, mom always broke off a part of her aloe vera plant and put on our burns. So after she died, I made sure I got her aloe vera plant to keep for future burns.

    I know many people who run their canner off of a turkey fryer burner outside so they never bring it inside to begin with. We've gone the way of installing a exhaust vent over our stove with a lot more horsepower than the microwave version we had before. It sucks the heat and humidity right out. But the trade off of course is using more energy to drive it.

  10. Oh Leigh, so good to hear that your quick thinking and staying calm saved you from lingering pain. The essential oils are excellent, as we have counted on them for years. So very awesome to show that once again, the value of knowledge and experience is what could save a life. Thanks for a great post!

  11. Mama Pea, I'm glad you haven't had any accidents! In all my years of canning, this is my first one. I pray it will be the last!

    Ed, that's a good idea. I was thinking the other day that an outdoor canning station would be even better than the back porch. I was thinking campfire, but a turkey fryer is a good idea. I'm already paying for the electricity to can, so it would be a small trade-off to pay for propane and keep the heat away farther away from the house.

    Those exhaust vent really work, don't they? We have an 80-watt exhaust fan to vent the back porch, but it's on a battery so I have to monitor it to not run that battery down.

    Wyomingheart, I think it pays to read and research! Because when confronted with a need, something usually pops to mind.

    I've thought about getting an essential oil distiller, but every time I research that I realize how complicated the subject is and give up. We have an abundance of a number of plants that would be good for making EOs.

  12. Yikes! This was a good post. So good I printed it out!!

  13. Oh, I meant to add - I also use the cold water method or a bar of ice rubbed on the skin if it is a small area. It does help but only while doing it. Then it burns for a heck of a long time afterward so a salve of some sort would be helpful.

  14. Oh WOW! This makes me cringe because this spring I spilled boiling water on my hand when taking it out to eradicate some ants in the garden. I went straight for the cold water, and then I had to hold an ice cube for about 5 hours. After that it was all OK. But still the first time I ever got a burn blister.

  15. Yes, instant cool water, then aloe vera, squeezed out of the plant directly onto the burn. It's why I have no scars despite numerous kitchen mishaps involving boiling water,red hot oven racks etc.

    I'm glad you thought quickly and had the presence of mind to do the right things. It's a shocky event. Hot sweet tea, even in summer is good to help the emotional recovery.

    I'm very sorry this happened. Very bad luck.

  16. Wow, sorry you got burned but so glad you knew how to help yourself. This sounds like a good concoction to have on hand. Do you know how well it would keep as a mixture? Hope the tenderness goes away soon.

  17. Rt, yes, that's true about ice or cold water on a burn. It only helps while you're actually applying it. The aloe vera helped with the pain, but it still hurt. After I added the oils, it stopped hurting instantly! And the pain relief lasted quite awhile too. Of course, that was with bare feet!

    SmartAlex, do get some aloe vera and those essential oils. They made a huge difference! As others have pointed out, having aloe vera plants is the best source, but it can be purchased in bottles of gel too. I don't think the purchased juice would be as effective because it wouldn't coat the burn like the gel.

    Boud, thanks! I didn't even think about emotional recovery; I still had too much to do!

    Sue, I read a lot about herbs and essential oils, and while I don't keep the information in the front of my brain, I usually find a bit of it floating to the surface in an emergency. At least enough to point me in the right direction!

    I keep my EOs in the fridge, so I think if you mixed a small batch and kept in handy in the fridge, it would keep for quite awhile.

  18. Wow that's terrible but I'm glad you had a good recovery! Burns are just awful, thanks for sharing the tips!

  19. For burns I've also use comfrey. Grows like a weed in our garden. Get some of the leaves smash them up to release some of the juices, put the leaves directly on your skin with gauze to hold in place and cover with a damp paper towel or cloth. Work grade for a severe burn on my mom, no blisters no nothing. Really easy to grow

  20. I got my first aloe vera plant from my father-in-law way back in 1976 or so. And haven’t ever been without one since. I am always amazed at the properties of plants to heal. Altho I have never needed to use them for anything quite as severe as you did.

    I understand your goal in cooling the water and recycling. Do your blogs friends a favor take a page from Jo’s book. Move half into another container to lighten your load. Better to wash an extra pot than hobble about on brunt piggies 🐷

  21. Ouch! Glad you were able to get your burns treated quickly and minimize the damage. Too bad you can't just sit back and relax. ;) Take care busy gal!

  22. Nancy, I've never tired comfrey for burns--good to know!

    Goatldi, I think I've had aloe vera about that long too! Yes, I'll need to be more careful with my canning water from now on. Not being able to get around is not acceptable on a homestead!

    Renee, I don't think sit back and relax is in my nature. :)

  23. Thanks for the information Leigh. I tend not to think about them, but they can lead to infection pretty quickly if not cared for, especially in a situation where antibiotics are not easily availble.

  24. TB, especially 2nd of 3rd degree burns. I was relieved these didn't get that bad.

  25. It is good to be home at the float cabin. It's been so long, but we settled in with only a few hours of unpacking. I just finished your book today and will begin writing my blurb. You book is so packed with great information it's going to be hard to do a brief praise comment. - Margy

  26. Leigh, think about using Plantain in that burn salve. I make a plantain/yarrow/dandelion salve, and OH MY GOODNESS, is it phenomenal on burns. It's great for all kinds of minor skin damage, but it's like a miracle on burns.

  27. Margy, glad you're home. :) And thank you so much for your kind words about my book! I appreciate your help!

    M.K., good to hear from you! Thanks for the salve information. I grow all of those herbs, so I can make that! Once more thing to add to the home first aid kit.


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