Aloe vera gel is a great healer that can soothe sunburns or irritated skin. Fresh gel can be harvested directly from an aloe vera plant and stored for future use. Aloe vera is safe and non-toxic, provided steps are taken to remove the aloin, or mucilage gel before consuming. The methods listed are solely for educational purposes and are not meant to be taken as medical or nutritional advice.
Instructions for Making Own Aloe Vera Gel
Many people use an aloe plant to treat a burn or cut by simply cutting a piece of the leaf off and squeezing or rubbing the liquid onto their skin. Although this method is effective, it wastes most of the valuable inner gel of the leaf. To properly remove the inner gel of an aloe vera leaf, the leaf needs to be fileted instead of simply squeezed. This process also harvests much more aloe gel from the leaf.
When ready to harvest the gel from an aloe leaf, choose an outer leaf that is healthy and grows toward the bottom of the plant. To remove the leaf, cut it at an angle close to the plant’s base. Plants that are too immature to harvest will not have leaves growing close to the ground.
Once you cut the leaf from the plant, place it upright in a container in a slightly tilted position. Let the leaf stay in that position for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, allowing the sap to drain from the leaf.
Place the aloe leaf on a flat surface such as a cutting board. Carefully cut off the tip of the leaf and the pointed rough edges on both sides using a very sharp knife. Make certain to cut both sides of the leaf all the way from top to bottom.
Separate the front and back of the leaf by slicing it lengthwise from the inside.
Scoop out both the slimy mucilage gel and the clear inner gel which appears more as a solid gel. For most leaves, a spoon works for scooping out the gel. If the leaf is very large, a butter knife may work best. When removing the gel, it is important to press down lightly but firmly, being careful not to remove any remaining sap.
Storing the Aloe Vera Gel
Store the aloe gel in the refrigerator in a plastic container that is safe for food storage or a glass container. The best container choice is a dark green or brown glass jar, which helps to keep out light. Many people add a drop of vitamin E and a small amount of citric acid powder to prevent discoloration and make the aloe vera gel last longer. In place of citric acid powder, simply crush a vitamin C tablet into powder or use a drop of grapefruit seed extract.