Introduction: DIY Aloe Vera Gel
This Instructable will show you how I (and I emphasize I) make homemade Aloe Vera Gel.
I personally use it as a moisturizer on my aging sun-kissed, exposed chest skin and neck, hoping that it will rejuvenate it over the long run and keep that part of my skin looking young.
One of the reasons I am posting this tutorial is because I know this mixture helps heal sunburns. My husband burns easily and in a pinch, I have rubbed straight aloe vera goo from the plant on his bright red extremities. It just works.
I have also read up on this mixture helping with eczema, but am only getting that from personal blogs around the net (mentioned in Step 4.)
There are so many uses for this gel that I know it could be used for many ailments.
I grow my own aloe vera plants. It wasn't until this year that my mother-in-law suggested I start using the fruitful plant for an all natural sunburn healer and skin softener so I started researching the prospect of actually using the plants I grew.
The original source I used for this recipe is here: Cheryl's Delights Blog.
The recipe is spot on, I have personally used it, and I am going to share the process of making it with you.
Read on friends and enjoy.
Please remember that this post is for information only, and it is not intended to recommend treatment. ~ Thanks!
Step 1: Ingredients, Tools & Materials
To make the gel, I use:
- 1/4-cup Aloe Vera pulp
- 1-tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4-teaspoon Vitamin E oil (optional)
- 1/8-teaspoon citric acid (optional)
- Food processor
- clean container with lid
To Harvest Aloe from plant (Step 2):
- work gloves (optional)
- paper towels
- container to hold pulp (or measuring cup)
Step 2: Harvest the Aloe Vera
I have been growing the aloe vera plant for over fifteen years. I have transported a potted aloe vera plant from one home to the next at least twice that I can think of. I don't have a green thumb by any means and have had my share of house plants and flowers die from mostly neglect. But my hearty and strong aloe vera plants have been thriving in my various gardens and pots for most of my lifetime.
The first photo in this step shows you the side of my house where the plant is growing. You can see that it is very prolific.
I also posted a photo of my work gloves, as the cactus-family plant may cause sensitive skin to itch as the spines are there for the plants protection, just as a rose plant has thorns.
For the purpose of this instructable, I yanked out one of the plants from its dirt home. Do not fret however, because the plant itself can re-grow from the root ball and it's center stalk. It just has to be replanted.
To harvest the Aloe from the plant, you will need a work space, paper towels, a spoon, a knife, a container to put the pulp in, and (optionally) kitchen shears. It takes me a good half-an-hour (30-minutes) to scoop out the pulp and five extra minutes of mixing the ingredients.
In order to make about 1/4-cup of pulp, you will need anywhere from four (4) to six (6) leaves about 4 to 6 inches long.
With my work gloves, I pulled off the leaves at the base of the live plant near the center of the stalk.
This could have been done with kitchen shears to maximize the length of the plant, but you can tell the plant is healthy when the leaves snap off pretty easily.
The leaves you want to use should be at least 1-1/2-inches wide, and when you push a leaf in between your fingers, it should feel like you are pressing on your own finger. There should be some give, but you can't squish it completely either.
The next step is to wash your hands. It's important to do to minimize the amount of bacteria that could make mold grow quickly on the final product.
The step after that is to clean off the aloe leaves. That can be done with a moist, clean paper towel.
If you are sensitive to the spines of the plant, you can use a paper towel to wrap the leaf, OR prior to cleaning your plant, you can leave the work gloves on and slice or snip off the thorns using a knife or the shears. You could also "peel" the thorns using a potato peeler. I don't do either one of these as I'm just used to getting the pulp out.
Slice through the top of the leaf skin using a clean knife, trying to get through just the top layer of skin.
Using your spoon, peel the skin back from the insides of the leaf, trying to capture as much of the pulp as possible.
After peeling the skin back, scoop out the pulp and place it in your clean container.
I do not recommend using a knife to scoop the insides out, as you can get more of the green-leaf portion rather than clear gel that you want to harvest.
If you do get a bit or two of green in the gel, you can slice it off with the knife and toss it. It's not a bad bi-product, it just doesn't spread as easily when rubbing the final product onto your skin.
That's pretty much it. It might take a few tries to get the slicing open so that you can maximize the amount of pulp that comes out of the leaf, but you will get the hang of it.
Step 3: Mix the Ingredients
The recipe again is:
1/4-cup of aloe vera pulp
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
1/4-teaspoon Vitamin E Oil (optional, depending on frequency of use)
1/8-teaspoon citric acid or ascorbic acid (optional, depending on frequency of use)
I use my small food processor to grind up the aloe pulp (for at least one minute) and mix in the remaining ingredients before putting it into my recycled baby food jar. A mason jar would have worked just as well.
If you would like to use the mix for a sunburn salve, the gel mix can be frozen in an ice cube container and then placed directly on the skin as needed, or left in a refrigerator for up to a month.
If you refrigerate the concoction, you will have to take a spoon and mix it up again, as the refrigeration solidifys the mixture and slightly separates the coconut oil.
My supply has never lasted more than one week on my bathroom counter because it will either get moldy or I will use it all and I need to make more, but again, I use is as a moisturizer for skin.
The Vitamin E Oil and citric acid both are supposedly preservatives.
Citric acid can affect some people (with a rash) so please be cautious if you have never used it.
Also, my coconut oil has separated, and I have not put it through the re-melting process to make it creamy again. Thus-there is what appears to be small white chunks in my gel that may not show up in yours because my coconut oil has been sitting around for a while.
Step 4: Uses for the Gel - Additional Resources
The previous three steps described how to make Aloe Vera gel.
Rather than re-iterate what others have written, I have included this step as a resource for your research on how to use this gel for your own purposes.
Two of the photos show my ice cube tray and frozen cubes of gel. I date the bag and can only let you know how long they will last in the freezer. I would estimate that in order to keep it "fresh" they would have to be used within a few months, but one tutorial stated that they could keep for up to six.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an excellent resource for being made aware of side effects and cautions of the use of Aloe Vera. It is also where I found the line: 'Use of topical aloe vera is not associated with significant side effects.'
Mind Body Green describes the benefits of Aloe Vera gel in a good summary form.
Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care has a couple great recipes using the aloe vera gel, including using it in an exfoliating face and body wash and a soothing mask.
And finally, Be Up and Doing Blog states that the Aloe Vera Gel Salve will help heal itchy eczema rashes. A claim that I cannot personally vouch for, but the research appears to lead in that direction.
And to think, you probably thought Aloe Vera gel was just for sunburns like I did right?
Thanks for reading!
The instructable was updated on October 12, 2013 with additional photos.