Drawing Salve

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

A friend of mine, a homesteader, found an old recipe for drawing salve and wants to try it, but can't find sources for the three ingredients.; sheep tallow, gum camphor and rosin. From the few references I found it appears both sheep and beef tallow are fatty acids similar to those found in glycerin, Camphor is available as an oil, and rosin might be replaced by pine tar. Has anyone concocted a similar recxipe or know of sources for these ingredients?. Thanks for any clues you can offer. Yuska

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I wonder if the rosin is the same as the kind violinist use on their bows?

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I wondered that, too. Wish I had studied more chemistry in school!

Sultan, WA(Zone 8a)

Glycerin is derived from saponified fats and oils of all kinds. The commercial soap industry extracts it from the soap they make and sells it as a by-product. I'm not sure why any other animal tallow ( beef being the closest) wouldn't be a good substitute. You can buy suet from a butcher an render it yourself or buy a package of lard off the shelf at the grocery store.

Pine Tar is hard to work with!! You can find it at feed stores and some tack stores.

Camphor can be very toxic, even when it is absorbed through the skin. There was an article not too long ago about a young runner who died from the toxic effects of using too much muscle rub. Menthol is like camphor is more readily available!

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Many thanks for the useful information! I'll pass it along to my friend.

Franklin Grove, IL(Zone 5a)

My mom (and her mom) made drawing salve by scraping brown soap (American Family or Fels Naptha) with a spoon and mixing it with sugar and applied it to a boil or infected sore.
We also used warmed Camphorated Oil as a chest rub for bad lung-involved colds. I don't think you can buy it anymore - just "Spirits of Camphor".

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

drawing salve is cheap.... why try to make it?

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

From what I understand, darius, it's an old family recipe several generations back that just came to light during a remodel of a cabin. Current descendants see it as a challenge.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

ahhh, that makes sense.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

The old recipe sounds interesting. Just keep in mind that although camphor has some wonderful uses medicinally and spiritually, it can be fatal to infants and young children. There is usually a warning on camphorated products saying not to use on kids.

Australia has been having some issues with the camphor laurel trees that were introduced there.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Many thanks, garden_mermaid! I will pass this information to my friend. Really powerful stuff, isn't it? Another of many examples - just because something is natural doesn't mean it's safe.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9b)

All rosin is is resin from pine trees easy enough to find all he needs id use it right from the trees as am sure thats what was done in the old days pitch we call it

Lehighton, PA

My grandmother had a recipe for rosin and tallow...no camphor. She used beef tallow when she couldn't get sheep tallow. It's the same rosin as used in violin bows but it's ground to a powder. I found some in an art supply store but I don't have the proportions. Could the person who has the recipe please give the measurements? I have a very small amount left and I treat it like gold. It smells bad but it works!

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I love doing/making old timey stuff, even if it is cheaper or easier to buy it. =0)

As a boot maker, pine tar is softer and gummier than rosin, which we use to coat the flax cord to sew the soles to the uppers. I've seen drawing salves made with pine tar, but it sure seems like rosin would be nicer to work with. IMO

Let us know how it goes! =0)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

You might find rosin at someplace like Lehman's. It is sold (although seldom anymore) as a cooking aid. My uncle had a cast iron rosin pot. He would heat the rosin, and then drip in baking potatoes. When they were fully cooked, they would rise to the top. He would fish them out and immediately wrap in newspaper where the rosin cooled into a shell that kept the heat in, and gave the potatoes a wonderful taste. You cracked them open and scooped out the potato. Cracker Barrel used to have rosin potatoes on their dinner menu.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Wow! I can't even imagine having that much rosin. I'd love to try a rosin potato.
Did the rosin get hard in the pot when it cooled?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hey, take a look at these...

has a possible source and this post:

Margie Anderson commented on 15 June 2005:
I am looking for pine resin that can be used to make a drawing salve that was a frontier Dr. recipe. Thie recipe has been handed down in my family and is very good. I need a pound of it. Please let me know if you have this available.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

This sounds very interesting and I'm thinking of giving it a try... when I get my outdoor stove set up. I was thinking outdoor, and that one thread with the woodsy guy confirmed it.

I'm waiting on trying to make the hominy for when I get that stove set up. All those warnings about the lye fumes got me cautious... so that's on the summer project, once the wind stops blowing like the dickens list. =0)

Thanks for telling us about this Darius.

Lehighton, PA

I bought my one pound of powdered rosin at Dick Blick art supply. I have a butcher nearby who will supply me with the beef tallow when I am ready to make it. Further research after my last post indicates the ratio of four parts tallow to one part rosin. You have to be sure you render the tallow several times in order to remove impurities and other bits of meat. I am going to try it very soon. If anybody has any other proportions, please post. Thanks

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I found a local abitoire and the butcher gave me 2 long sections of beef fat from around the kidneys, which they normally trash. The kidneys were still encased in it! My cats got the kidneys, and I rendered the tallow 3X. After the 3rd rendering, it sat for 3-4 weeks and really got hard and waxy-feeling. It is a lot different than beef fat.

I used it in bird suet cakes but if I do it again, I will only render it twice so it's softer and easier to mix with nuts and seeds for suet.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

OMG, Darius... that's gourmet stuff you've got there! The tallow from around the kidneys is supposed to be the very, very best stuff for making pie crust dough. They say you will get the flakiest, lightest crusts ever.

Another one of those things I want to try...

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Well, after mine was rendered 3X, it would be impossible to use it in pie crust dough... but I'll keep that in mind next fall when there is lots of beef butchering going on around here. Maybe just rendering once and straining with fine cheesecloth would do the trick. I had cleaned mine pretty well before rendering, so there wasn't much to filter out.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

How do you render... on the stove top or in the oven?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

In the oven. Less mess, less tending...

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

At what temp?

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Lolliecarr, I tried to inquire about the ingredient proportions, but haven't been able to reach my homesteading friend who found the old-timey recipe. The acreage where he has been roughing it is in a section of Oklahoma where one of the lesser tornados went through recently. The electrical power at his place has always been iffy; since he hasn't responded to e-mails I'm guessing he can't use his computer.

Thanks, all, for the info on rosin potatoes. Great project for my clan on camping trips. Yuska

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Tornados already? Shuuuu... =o(

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Jay, I don't remember exactly, but I think between 225ºF - 250ºF. Long and slow. The beef fat has to be cut into small pieces; I think mine were about 1/2"... but the fat around the kidneys crumbles a lot, so I had a lot of 'crumbs' too.

Each time I rendered it, I strained it while it was fairly hot but let it cool overnight before rendering again. (I cooled it in the same pot I used in the oven... why clean more pots?)

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Thanks! I did the oven rendering once, a long time ago, but forgot how it was done. It is less fuss and mess.

Have you ever tried pouring water through to clarify the tallow?

I'm not sure you even have to render that kidney fat... Oh, do look into it on the web. I remember all the gourmets were just RAVING about it. =D

Sounds like that thrice rendered stuff would have done for tallow candles...

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

No to the water... some sites say to add water when rendering, but I chose not to.

Yes, what I ended up with would have made decent tallow candles.

I will have to look up pie crust with tallow... I make terrible pie crust.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I tried the water method... I wasn't much impressed. Couldn't see that it made much difference.

There's a special name for that fat... backfat? backstrap? leaf tallow? (now where did that come from... but I think it speaks to its flaky nature)... oh, I wish I could remember.

Making stock from marrow bones today... yum!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

LOL... I was thinking a couple hours ago that if I had some chicken feet, I'd make stock today. I love stock from marrow bones but never think to drive to the next town to ask at the abitoire for some. Do you roast your bones first?

Technically the fat around the beef kidneys is just "suet" but also called leaf fat. Once it's rendered, it's tallow.

Earlier today I strained seeds out of a case of tomatoes I canned last fall (I was lazy), and I'm cooking it down to make spaghetti sauce with sweet italian sausage. I just sautéed a large sauce pan full of onions and garlic... my kitchen smells great! I'll probably can most of the sauce since the freezer is full of mostly frozen junk foods. I cook/eat separately from my sister and her daughter, so I usually can stuff in pints except pie fillings. My preferred cooking days are when they both are at work; other than that, I seldom use the kitchen much anymore because I have to clean it first. (And, they each only work part-time.)

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

Leaf fat! Isn't all beef fat suet? Or maybe it's tallow after rendering except for the leaf fat which becomes suet? It's all sooooo technical. =)

Mmmm, wish we lived closer, I'd trade you a pint of stock for a pint of s'geti sauce with sausage... yummy! My SU doesn't care for sausage, so I have to eat it on the sly. LOL

Yes, I not only roasted the bones, I roasted the onion and carrot too. Ooo, it's so tasty... and sucking the bones is divine. The dogs are majorly annoyed; they think all bones are theirs. LOL

Sorry they think you're the maid... =(

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

No, not all beef fat is suet, and not all rendered beef fat is tallow. Sorry. If you had a sample of any regular beef fat, and a sample of the suet from around the kidneys, you'd immediately notice the difference.

I roasted chicken bones once, along with the veggies for stock. Mine roasted into "inedible mess" very quickly, I guess because the bones are so thin. Now I roast the veggies but simmer the cracked bones with some vinegar in the water. Cracking chicken bones sure makes a mess, spattering all over the kitchen!

My tomatoes were very watery so they are taking a long time to cook down. Beginning last fall, I started freezing tomatoes whole, first. Makes it very easy to get seeds out and a big percentage of the water out too, before making sauce. Then I got lazy, or maybe just busy, and canned about 3 cases of tomatoes just cut in chunks, seeds and all. I'm paying for it now.

But... I had the opportunity to go to Asheville (150 miles away) last week and bought some good Italian sausage, no fennel. So, time to make some spaghetti sauce! Can't get any good Italian sausage here at all, and I make my own breakfast sausage from venison. I have about 50 pounds of raw pork fat, still has skin, out in the cold storage room. It's starting to thaw so I'll have to trash it. It would keep if I rendered it, but I'm not up to the work right now. I still have several pounds I skinned and ground stored in the freezer, and I won't make any more sausage until next fall anyway.

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

Darius, put your chicken bones inside a ziplock bag, zipped shut before you crack them. :) I don't roast my chicken bones anymore, either.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Good tip, thanks.

Sapello, NM(Zone 5b)

I wish I knew more about using the whole beast... there's a book out now by that name, I think. I just grew up eating packaged meat, my family never raised their own, so it's all an adventure. I'm finally finding folks who are raising beef, goats, and sheep... the one small scale hog farmer went out of business. And hunting's big here, but no one I knows hunts. =o( But obviously I've got plenty to keep me busy. Now that I've found more fresh goat milk, I'm working up to cheeses. I made some pretty good ice cream last week, and some good yogurt, too. I'm ordering a kit to make chevre.


Lehighton, PA

I was instructed by my cousin, who remembers these things, to put the fat in a big pot with a lot of water and cook it down very slowly. Let it cool and the tallow will be on top. Lift it out when it hardens, change the water and do it twice more. Then melt down the tallow again, slowly, and gradually stir in the powdered rosin. Keep an eye on it so the rosin doesn't sink to the bottom. You only need a very small amount of the salve at a time so four pounds of tallow to one pound of rosin should last a good while.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Jay, be glad your family didn't butcher livestock. I am still haunted by my childhood experiences. I was about nine when one October a hog was butchered. Big ol innocent fellow came up to the corner of the pen to greet Dad and Granddad. They answered him harshly - Granddad shot him between the eyes and Dad brought down an axe on his head. My mind's ear can still hear that animal's scream. The carcass was hung from the eave of the barn to drain. The hams were salted and smoked (no eletricity/no refrigeration). Rendering the lard was a chore for Grandmother and me. We sat on the back step holding up the smelly entrails, carefully cutting the fatty strips away. Cooking down the lard on a wood stove took all day. The snowy white result did make wonderful biscuits and pie crusts. We didn't know then what we were doing to our arteries.

For Sunday dinner we often had fried chicken. Mother and Grandmother would each snatch up a chicken by its legs, lay its head on the ground, step on it and yank. The bodies flopped wildly around the yard for a seemingly long time before becoming still. The carcasses were then plunged into buckets of scalding water and the feathers were stripped away. Last step before cutting out the entrails was singeing - the small hairlike pin feathers were burned away with a lighted stick - my mind's nose recalls the smell.

Later when we lived on the edge of town we nearly always had a milk cow. As each calf grew large enough it was sent to the butcher. We rented a coldstorage locker to keep the meat. Dad shot squirrels, we caught fish and on a few dark nights we rowed along the lake's shore line to gig frogs.

It's a wonder I'm not a vegetarian. I do eat meat sparingly and I feel a great respect for the creatures who feed us. Yuska

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