While hiking down a damp woodland trail of dappled light, you come across a patch of plants that are tall, smooth, and a lovely shade of green. It doesn’t look like the poison ivy or stinging nettle growing near by. The plant is jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, a medicinal plant that contains the chemical lawsone, or hennatannic acid, in its leaves and stems that can treat poison ivy, bug bites, grass rash, and sedge cuts.
Jewelweed plant, depending on the time of year you can see yellow-orange flowers blooming on the plant. The flowers look a bit like mini snap dragons.
Jewelweed is called such because water droplets bead up on the smooth leaves like little glistening jewels, and when a leaf is placed in water, the underside turns a glorious silver metallic color.
Making jewelweed vinegar is something we do every spring in my family to treat summer skin aliments. Making the medicinal tonic is easy!
*apple cider vinegar
Step 1: Harvest fresh jewelweed. Take the jewelweed and tear up the leaves and stems
Step 2: In a glass mason jar, fill a little over 1/2 the jar with torn jewelweed leaves and stems.
Step 3: Add apple cider vinegar to the jar, fill until the leaves are covered.
Step 4: Seal the jar with the lid and let it sit, after 24 hours it can be used in an emergency, but letting it infuse for at least 2-3 weeks is best. It is important to shake the jewelweed infusion daily to prevent mold from forming at the top. After 2-3 weeks, strain out the plant material from the mixture, label, date, and keep in a dark space.
You can apply the “magic elixir” using a cotton ball or by placing the liquid in an ice cube tray and freeze. When needed, take the ice cube and rub onto the infected area. Should you be out in the field and be exposed to poison ivy you can apply it directly from the plant by splitting open the stem of the jewelweed and applying directly to the infected area. Treat area immediately, it can actually keep the nasty rash away if jewelweed is applied right away.
Curiosities- What is an infusion?
Solvent- substance that dissolves a solute
Solute- substance that dissolves into a solute
Suspension- particles of solid material held within a fluid (solvent) that are too large to dissolve in the fluid (solvent).
When you add the jewelweed to the vinegar, you create an infusion. An infusion is the extraction of chemical compounds or flavors from material (the jewelweed) in a solvent (the vinegar). In an infusion, the material (jewelweed) remains suspended in the solvent (vinegar) over time.