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Uses for Aloe Vera? Looking for suggestions.

 
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Where I live, Aloe Vera isn't quite viable to grow year-round outside.  (It might survive in the perfect micro-climate.)  But it gets extremely happy in pots if you give it a few months inside during the coldest part of the winter.  Come spring, when your pots go outside, it tends to grow explosively, sending off so many daughter plants that you need to re-pot and transplant all the daughters.

I like having an aloe vera houseplant because there's nothing like fresh aloe sap on minor burns.  So, like twice a year, I snip off one leaf to rub the goo on a burn.  It works so well, it's worth keeping for that alone.

But after years of keeping these things and transplanting all the daughter plants, I'm buried in extra plants.  It would be worse if I hadn't left so many outside to freeze.  But I am awash in large and vigorous aloe veras.  

I'd really like to find another thing this plant is good for.   Otherwise, I'm just going to have to mulch most of these.

Locally, there's no market for big aloe plants; I see other people in my same shoes trying to shift them on local Facebook groups, and they're lucky if they can get a few bucks to cover the value of the pot.  

I know some people eat the stuff -- specifically the jell innards of the leaves -- but I don't find it palatable.

Is there some clever use for this stuff that I just haven't stumbled across?  
 
Dan Boone
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LOL, isn't it amazing the difference five years makes?  I just saw my thread from five years ago right after I got my first Aloe Vera plant...
 
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Add it to a smoothie!  it is very healthy and a great binder.  
 
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Hm.  Given the thickness of the juice, could it be used where people are using aquafaba (garbanzo bean juice)?  Or in sauces as a thickener?
 
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Aloe certainly is a miracle plant for cuts, scrapes and burns, but a tasty addition to a smoothie it isn’t.  I did try tasting aloe goo once—YUCK!!  It was horrible, awful, bitter stuff.  I soon concluded that it is great on the outside, but not on the inside.

Now if you really like bitter, then ignore everything I just said.  But having tasted it once, well, YUCK!!

But all that being said, we always keep a plant or two around just for those cuts, scrapes and bruises.

Eric
 
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I suppose you could look into what type of extraction process produces the best tincture or unguent, and then process them into an unguent or salve. You could literally just jar it up in small mason jars and give them away.

Right off the bat, I would see how coconut oil and aloe vera extract, even a mechanical extraction, juiced or pressed from the flesh, combine. You could look to see what other burn treatment plants you happen to have, or have growing wild that you could forage, and combine them all in a coconut oil base.

I would ask an herbalist, or look online, for recipes, and to check that my herbal combinations don't yield something unexpectedly harmful, but if you have a glut of a medicinal plant, I would suggest you make medicine.

The other thing you could do is expand your search for sales areas as far as you can. If it's so ridiculously easy for you to propagate them, find out where there isn't a glut in the market, maybe through plant nurseries, and see if you can access the market there. As long as it wasn't too long a journey for the rooted cuttings, you could just load up nursery trays, preferably the pressed recycled board ones, and the pressed recycled board pots, stack a number of trays in the right-sized box, and ship them. This may not be an option, but if you find that market niche, it may be your perfect cash-generating outlet.

-CK
 
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here people use aloe for hair and scalp and beauty stuff. maybe you could see if there is a health food store you could unload the plants on? Latin markets often sell the big plants, one leaf at a time, just for this purpose.
Eating is iffy, you can eat the gel but not the latex (which is absurdly bitter), I know in recent years the health position has gone back and forth about whether it can cause stomach cancer or not. So if you make smoothies, make it with the gel and make sure that yellow bitter latex is not part of it.
 
Eric Hanson
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Tereza,

I am glad that I am not the only person who thinks aloe is bitter.  I tried just dabbing my fingertip on the goo and touching my tongue.  That was enough.

The health and beauty properties are interesting and are probably worth investigating.

Eric
 
Tereza Okava
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it is funny, because when I lived in Japan I used to drink "aloe juice" all the time (really, grape juice with big chunks of aloe gel). Silly me later on thinking that I could make aloe juice out of aloe. Not recommended to throw a washed aloe leaf in a smoothie!!!
We have lots of different kinds of aloes here, and some are better than others for different things. We have candelabra aloe everywhere (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_arborescens ) and that works just as well for skin irritations and hair stuff-- but it has A LOT more latex and is not easy to work with. Aloe vera is much easier.
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks for all the helpful comments!

To clarify, I'm not really looking at developing larger-scale production or looking for a market; I did look into whether the plants would sell locally just because they are large and attractive, but I'm mostly just looking for better things to do with the stuff than "let it freeze and die and throw it in the compost pile".  

As several other people have noted, the stuff has a flavor that I just don't like.  I'm also generally dubious about eating plants where one component is "sorta" edible and other components are poisonous, especially if you have to carefully separate the two.   I'm always open to new culinary processes and recipes, but when they boil down to "blend the hell out of it with more flavorful things" I need a strong reason to bother.  

A lot of things in this world, we just grow because they're pretty.  I don't mind if that's what this boils down to.  But I've learned that people can be real creative and find uses for things I never would have imagined, so I wanted to crowdsource the question a little bit.
 
Chris Kott
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If you needed a reason to move them all indoors for the winter, aloe releases oxygen with nightfall, making for much easier rest if they're crammed into your bedroom.

Do yours change colour outside? Our friends to the east of us have potted aloe that goes taupe or brown outdoors, and back to green indoors.

-CK
 
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Is there a spa nearby that would be able to market fresh aloe gel facials? Fresh might fetch a premium for them.

Ive used the gel in a homemade eye wash for winter dryness. Stings a bit at first, but works well otherwise.
 
pollinator
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Aloe is great for the skin, dry scaly skin, sun burn, herpes labialis/zoster ,psoriasis, insect bites, acne, athlete foot, pigment spots, hemorrhoids,arthritis, back pain, bad hair condition, early signs of getting old.
It got ingredients that moisturize like nothing else, it stimulates the growth of new cells, it contains enzymes that break down dead cells, it's an anti-inflamatory, painkilling and stimulates the bloodflow.

Lately i've done a roof, change the slates and my hands got ridiculously dry with cracked fingertips and small pieces of slate stuck in the skin ,then i worked the soil quite a bit and calusses turned black and i couldn't shrub it out any longer. It was a terrible state. Very happy to have Aloe Vera handy. Just keep rubbing i in while watching some youtube, then rub the calusses and it kind of dissolves it, then add some more aloe, then rubbing etc,etc it got the dirt out. Made the cracked fingers a lot less sensitive , so i could easier cut off the dead skin on both sides of the infected area. And the slate i pulled it out and cut it out with a small scissor and then applying aloe, it worked beautifully. And cheap! Unbelievable. My hands would have made a pedicure cry and i repaired them with scissors a nail file and a few Aloe Vera leaves.
My sister got a very nasty burn on her finger and she hollowed it out and scotched it to her finger for the night, she was pain free next day.

It's such a beautiful plant. There are many different kinds, but i got one that grows well inside and multiplies easily with no prickly thin skinned leaves never bigger than 6 inches. They don't like to be outside in summer, they turn yellowish, they flourish inside in the shade most of the day. In a big pot they are really filling it up.
happy-aloe.jpg
[Thumbnail for happy-aloe.jpg]
 
Dan Boone
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Chris Kott wrote:
Do yours change colour outside? Our friends to the east of us have potted aloe that goes taupe or brown outdoors, and back to green indoors.
-CK



I have color vision issues and wouldn't know what taupe was if it punched me in the face, but the plants do darken considerably when outside and exposed to the elements.  They are a much lighter green indoors.
 
Dan Boone
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Hugo Morvan wrote:
It got ingredients that moisturize like nothing else, it stimulates the growth of new cells, it contains enzymes that break down dead cells, it's an anti-inflamatory, painkilling and stimulates the bloodflow.

Lately i've done a roof, change the slates and my hands got ridiculously dry with cracked fingertips and small pieces of slate stuck in the skin ,then i worked the soil quite a bit and calusses turned black and i couldn't shrub it out any longer. It was a terrible state. Very happy to have Aloe Vera handy. Just keep rubbing i in while watching some youtube, then rub the calusses and it kind of dissolves it, then add some more aloe, then rubbing etc,etc it got the dirt out.



Awesome, this has given me an idea.  I have to be really careful about my foot care due to marginal venous insufficiency in my legs (it's fine when I stick to my circulation-friendly plant-based diet, but marginal if I start eating a lot of fats, especially saturated/animal fats).  And lately there's been a lot of new callus buildup on my feet, which can crack and turn into sores if I don't stay on top of it.  I have a variety of creams that help, but I never considered aloe vera sap for that purpose.  I'm gonna try rubbing it all over my feet before I put my socks on.  This is exactly the sort of suggestion I was hoping for, thanks so much!

I already knew about the helpfulness on burns -- it's miraculous for that -- but I never considered it for more general skin repair.  
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Dan. Hope it works out for you! Tell us in any case please.
Did you try rosemary balm on your legs yet? Rosemary contains CT kamfer, which stimulates the bloodflow. If you react well to Rosemary on your skin you could consider a tincture.
I like to make stuff myself with my own plants. It's fairly easy. Put rosemary leaves in sunfloweroil, put something on top to keep the rosemary leaves under oil, out of contact with air. Muslin/cloth with marbles on top or something will do. Let sit for 4 weeks or something. Then get the oil out, separate. For every 7ml of oil you need 1 gram of beeswax. Melt the beeswax in disposable pan, add sunfloweroil et voila.
If this helps a bit it might mean you're receptive to rosemary and you could use it orally, start adding it to your food and drink teas or go all the way and get a tincture..
I'm not a doctor, just hobbying, i bought a very extensive book phytotherapist use, it mentions contraindications for rosemary : pregnancy, epilepsy, don't take it when one suffers from inflammatories to the stomach. Interactions with other medicines: theoretically for antihypertensiva and hypotensiva, hartrhytm medicine, doxorubine, lithium,theophyline. Then only take under supervision of a doctor.
 
Dan Boone
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Thanks, Hugo.  I have not tried rosemary in the manner you suggest, but I'll keep it in mind.  I'm in a marginal climate for overwintering rosemary plants, so I have a little bit in late summer but no great surplus of the stuff.  I've got one plant inside this winter and I'm still trying to find just the right microclimate where its feet can stay dry during the winter rains as this plant wants if it's gonna survive mild freezes.
 
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aloe is useful as a rooting hormone

i find my aloe is a good indicator of cold conditions due to the colour change as Chris mentioned.

there are many varieties as Hugo mentioned, the one i have multiplies like crazy but stays fairly small
i remember being kinda jealous of the size of a friends aloe and a huge one at a nursery i saw until i learned there was more than one kind

recently i successfully germinated an aloe barberae !

 
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Actually not all Aloe vera varieties are edible: some are specifically bred to be eaten, while others cannot be eaten.

One recipe for shampoo: cut away the green part, mix the gel, sieve, use as shampoo.
 
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I've recently discovered that you can use aloe vera gel as a HAIR GEL!!!  That wild look might be a tad 1980s but you might know people who go for certain sculpted styles...

Also came across this

https://www.healthline.com/health/7-amazing-uses-aloe-vera#takeaway
 
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Geoff Lawton mentions using gels to help soils retain their water (and thus, likely, nutrients) in dryland conditions.  You might be able to experiment with using mashed aloe in your garden soils.
 
Chris Kott
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Hmm... I wonder if that would make aloe vera gel, or the whole plant as a slurry, a valuable addition to an actively aerated compost extract for dryland conditions? Or as a slurry on its own for the same purpose?

-CK
 
Roberto pokachinni
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a slurry on its own for the same purpose?  

was more what I was thinking.  Or just chopped up and let the bugs do it for you.  I know a guy in Arizona who did this with priclkly pear leaves
 
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I have been using aloe vera as a mouth wash for many years. The last batch I bought said to refrigerate it after opening. Maybe if it is fermented, the aloe would not need to be refrigerated.
 
Dan Boone
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Geoff Lawton mentions using gels to help soils retain their water (and thus, likely, nutrients) in dryland conditions.  You might be able to experiment with using mashed aloe in your garden soils.



Interesting!  I'm pretty sure we used to have a thread about using crushed Opuntia (prickly pear) paddles as a wet mulch in extreme dryland farming situations, but couldn't find it just now when I looked.  I don't think I'll ever have aloe in enough volume for that unless I find a spot where it will overwinter outside, though.
 
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