So, you have an aloe plant. But you’ve been reading about all the ways you can use that beautiful plant to make medicinal creams, conditioners and food, and you have one simple question: how do I do that? How do I get an aloe face cream that fights acne from this long-leaved plant? How does the touch plant become a smooth and sleek conditioner for my hair? Just looking at your potted plant makes all these possibilities seem impossible. But they’re not! You can make them all by yourself, in your home–given you have the courage. If you want to make homemade, health-promoting products from your aloe plant, you have to be prepared to do a little surgery on your plant. Snip, snip! But don’t worry, you won’t be hurting your aloe one bit by borrowing some of its leaves. Think of it as using your aloe so that you hurt no more!
What Part of the Plant? The Leaf.
Take a look at your aloe plant. Overwhelmed at where to start? Don’t be! Those long, tough-skinned leaves are what contain all of the medicinal potential you’ve been hoping for! Since that is the case, you will need to remove one or two leaves at a time to create one product–whether it be an aloe-based cream, dessert, smoothie, soap, conditioner, etc. Get out those tools!
Can I Remove a Leaf of My Plant without Damaging it?
Although a plant is living and breathing, you can cut off a piece of it without repercussions. Removing a leaf or two of your aloe vera plant will not damage or harm it. It will live! All it may do is harm your plant’s aesthetic appeal, which can easily be avoided by strategically selecting which aloe leaf to take. Although it’s for a good cause, you don’t want to leave your aloe looking bald! Another part of not damaging your aloe plant when removing a leaf is making sure you cut it off correctly.
How to Cut that Aloe Leaf!
That leaf! It’s gotta go! But before it does, you want to make sure you are removing your plant’s leaf in a way that will not damage the plant or any surrounding part of it. Do not pull! I repeat, do not just pull of a leaf of your plant! To avoid unnecessary harm to your plant, you will want to use
- a sharp knife or razor
to properly remove a leaf. How far down do you cut? All the way! You will probably need the gel from an entire aloe leaf (or two of them) for your medical concoction, so take the whole thing. Position your sharp utensil right where the leaf meets the stem to ensure a clean cut. Just be sure not to slice the stem–you just want the leaf!
If you are using the pure aloe gel just to clean a put over a cut or bruise and only want to take half of a leaf, you can do that too. To make sure your slicing does not become like an open wound, you can dust the open part with agricultural sulfur to kinda close it up. But that’s optional! Totally up to you!
Now What am I Looking For? The Anatomy of an Aloe Leaf
So you have your aloe leaf. What now? That still doesn’t look like a lovely face cream! You already know your focus is on your aloe’s leaves, so let’s explore the anatomy of the aloe leaf to find out your next step. You want to have a good sense of where everything is in the leaf before you start cutting it up and dissecting it. There are two parts of the aloe leaf you want to concern yourself with:
- Aloe gel: This is the part of the leaf you want to gather for whatever you are creating. It is a thick, gel-like substance located in the center of your aloe leaf, so you’ll need to slice the aloe leaf open to get to it!
- Aloe latex: Before you get to the aloe gel, you’ll probably encounter aloe latex, a yellow sap-like substance that lurks just below the aloe leaf’s surface. Avoid that at all costs! Inevitably, some may get in your aloe gel (especially if you are an aloe-dissecting newbie!), but you can get rid of it by rinsing off your aloe gel–not once, not twice, but three times–before using it, especially if you are making something that you are ingesting. Did I forget to mention that aloe latex functions as a laxative. The last thing you want to be doing is running to the bathroom because you got some of that aloe latex!
Now you have a better sense of where everything is inside the aloe leaf, and what you are and aren’t looking for when opening it up. A quick quiz to make sure:
Aloe latex? No. Avoid at all costs.
Aloe gel? Yes. Gather that jelly substance like there is no tomorrow!
Getting to the Gel: Extraction Techniques
To get out that aloe gel, you can use either kitchen utensil:
- a sharp knife
- fruit peeler (be careful, this method makes you more likely to come in contact with aloe latex!)
Read the linked articles for detailed instruction on how to use each one!
Mostly likely, you next step will be to turn that aloe gel into aloe oil, which we then be what goes into all your cream, conditioner and soap recipes! If you are making an aloe-inspired juice, water or food like a dessert or salad, your aloe-extracting may be done: you just need the pure gel! Good luck following the rest of that recipe! Your aloe is officially no longer a plant!