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Gardener’s Hand Soak Recipe

Gardener’s Hand Soak Recipe

Many gardeners love to stick their hands in the soil as they work. The feeling of soft, loamy dirt is so satisfying. The problem is this delightful practice leaves our hands feeling rough and chapped. Working with wood or working in damp, cold weather also draws the moisture out of my skin despite wearing gloves. I got tired of my nails getting brittle and chipped each year around April so I devised this simple hand soak to heal the cracks and soften my neglected fingers.

Calendula is famous for healing the skin. It not only soothes skin but it serves as an antiseptic to prevent wounds from getting infected. Comfrey does wonders to knit damaged tissue. Horsetail contains silica which rebuilds brittle nails. The combination of all of these herbs relieve blisters within one or two soakings.

Potters, ceramic artists and those who work with clay will also benefit from this remedy.



  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 spoon
  • a resealable container or bag large enough to hold all your herbs
  • a label


  1. Pour the herbs into the mixing bowl and gently stir them with a spoon. Try not to break up the plant parts since this will release the essential oils.
  2. Pour the mix into a resealable container.
  3. Label the container with the name of the mix, ingredients and date mixed.

Storage and Use

Gardener’s Hand Soak should be stored in an air-tight container or bag away from sunlight.

To use this mixture, bring 4 cups of water in a pot to a boil on the stove. Stir in 1/2 cup Gardener’s Hand Soak mix. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Strain out the herbal mixture as you pour the warm water in a bowl large enough to fit both of your hands comfortably. Soak your hands in the herbal water until the water gets too cool to be comfortable. Repeat this procedure every night until your skin is soft and pliable again.

Chickweed may be used as a substitute for Calendula.

Plantain is a good substitute for comfrey particularly if combined with marshmallow leaves and flowers.

If the mixture is going to be used only once, fresh herbs may be substituted for dried herbs.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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