If you’re looking for a completely natural substance that can soothe your skin, nourish your hair and act as an anti-inflammatory, then aloe might just be your thing.
There are many high-quality aloe vera products you can buy at the store. Or, if you prefer, you can make your very own aloe vera gel at home. All you need is a fresh aloe vera plant and a few simple supplies.
So if you’re ready, here’s a quick guide on how to make aloe vera gel.
What You Need to Make Aloe Vera Gel
Before we get into the fresh gooey details of making homemade aloe vera gel, first you’ll have to make sure you’ve got the necessary tools for the job. Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to start making your own aloe vera plant gel:
- A fresh aloe vera plant (This one’s kind of super important!)
- A sharp pair of scissors
- A tall glass
- A chopping board
- A sharp knife
- A vegetable peeler
- A spoon
- A bowl/suitable container
- Ideally, a refrigerator/freezer for storage
With all these tools and materials at the ready, you should be good to go. If you’re wondering where to source a high-quality fresh aloe vera plant, you can usually pick them up at your local garden center, flower shop, or even in some DIY stores!
When you’re choosing an aloe vera leaf to harvest from your plant, make sure it’s fully grown and ripened. A ripe aloe vera leaf will always be one of the larger leaves on the plant. This leaf will be deep green in color, smooth and thick.
Once you’ve found the leaf for you, it’s time to learn how to extract aloe vera gel from it.
How to Harvest Aloe Vera Gel from Fresh Aloe Leaves
It’s no good having all the right tools if you don’t know how to get aloe vera gel from plants. Here’s a look at what to do with aloe leaves to safely extract the gel.
Step 1: Before Extracting The Aloe, Wash Your Hands!
More so than ever, lately we have all been realizing how important it is to wash our hands on a regular basis, and that’s no different here! So before you get started with your aloe vera extraction, it’s important to wash your hands first. This precaution will prevent any germs from getting into the aloe gel, and also from getting into you!
Step 2: Slice off an Aloe Vera Leaf
With your hands washed, you’re ready to cut off your chosen leaf from the plant. To do this, take a sharp pair of scissors and slice through your chosen leaf at a point as close to the base of the plant as possible.
It’s also a good idea to rinse the leaves under running water after removing them, just to be extra hygienic!
Step 3: Drain Out the Resin
When extracting gel from aloe vera leaves, it is only the white-colored aloe gel you’ll want to use. The aloe vera leaves also possess a yellow-tinted resin that contains something called latex (the natural kind, not what you might find on a condom or other synthetic products). This latex is found just under the aloe plant’s skin, and has been known to cause irritation if applied to human skin. The substance has even been linked to various digestive problems, if ingested regularly.
So it’s essential that you drain this yellow-resin out of your aloe vera leaves before extracting the gel. To do this, place your aloe vera leaves in a tall glass with the cut end facing down for about 10 minutes, and allow the resin to drain out.
Once all the yellow liquid has drained into the glass, you’re ready to start cutting your aloe leaves!
Step 4: Cut Off the Spiky Sides
Aloe vera leaves are usually quite sharp and spiky on the sides. You’ll need to get rid of these spikes if you want to access the aloe gel inside the plant.
So once you’re finished draining out the resin, place your aloe vera leaf on a cutting board, and use a sharp knife to slice down each side of the aloe vera leaf. This method should easily remove the hard spiky sides.
Try to stay as close to the edges of the leaf as possible while cutting, to ensure that you are only removing the sides, and not the precious gel inside! And of course, be very careful when you’re doing this. Between the sharp spikes and the sharp knife, there are plenty of ways you could harm yourself here!
Step 5: Peel Off the Aloe Skin
With the spiky sides removed, you can now remove the rest of the skin using a vegetable peeler. You only have to do this on one side of the leaf.
Take the vegetable peeler, and peel down the length of the leaf on one side, removing the hard green outer section of the leaf. Make sure to cut deep enough to reveal the gooey gel on the inside. Once this step is done, you’re ready to extract it!
Step 6: Scoop Out the Gel into a Sterilized Container
This is the super easy part. Just take a spoon, and scoop out all the soft gel into a sterilized container.
Before you use the gel, it’s important to make sure it is a clear, whitish color through and through. If the gel contains any green or yellow bits, you need to remove them before using the gel. These green or yellow bits are likely to be leftover resin that didn’t drain properly, and they can be toxic.
Then, once there’s no gel left in the leaf, and no green or yellow bits, your extracted gel is ready to use.
Unlike store-bought aloe vera products, fresh gel from aloe vera has quite a short shelf-life. If you’re planning on keeping it for a while, you might want to use a few tricks to help keep your gel fresh for longer.
How to Preserve Your Aloe Vera
Fresh aloe vera gel will usually start going bad after only 24 hours if kept at room temperature. Luckily, there are various ways you can store and preserve it if you want to keep it fresh for longer.
By storing your aloe vera gel in the refrigerator, it should remain fresh for up to 10 days. If this isn’t long enough for you, your gel should be good for up to eight months if you store it in the freezer.
You can also mix your aloe with various preservatives like honey, vitamin C or vitamin E oil to extend its shelf life. Before mixing with honey, vitamin C or vitamin E oil, you should always blend your aloe vera gel in a blender.
To learn about extending the shelf life of your aloe in greater detail, you might like to read this article about how to store fresh aloe and aloe vera gel.
How to Use Aloe Vera Gel
So now that you’ve learned how to make aloe vera gel, what exactly should you use it for? Well, because aloe vera gel contains all sorts of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids, it has many health benefits if used correctly.
For the skin, you can apply aloe vera gel to treat minor sunburns and other burns, skin irritation, dry skin and even some small wounds and insect bites. You can also use aloe vera gel as a general moisturizer to keep your skin clear and healthy.
Whatever you’re using the gel for on your skin, just spread a thin layer of the fresh gel to the chosen area of your skin, and let it soak in and work its magic. With regular application, the aloe vera gel should help clear up whatever minor skin issues you’re experiencing. You should always consult your doctor before using aloe vera to treat any major health issues.
As well as being good for your skin, aloe vera also has many benefits when used as part of your hair routine, and you can even try adding frozen aloe vera gel cubes to your drinks and smoothies for an added nutritional boost.
And speaking of using aloe vera for drinks, how about throwing some into a blender and making your very own aloe vera juice?
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