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Cleaning roots.

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It's best to use water when cleaning roots.

In January 2000 somebody asked on the herblist how people were cleaning roots ... she'd been told long ago not to use water.

On small roots, like valerian, I use my fingers and lots of water.
On larger roots, like dandelion, burdock, or yellow dock, I use a root veggie brush and lots of water.

Using water is the single best way to get rid of all of the mud, clay, and small stones. And the earthworms.

Sometimes people will try to scrub the skin off the roots, too. That's not necessary. If some skin is gone off the roots after you've removed the dirt that's OK, but don't even try to get rid of it all - usually there's lots of goodies in and under the skin.

Slice things up and let drip dry before making your tincture. Or use a towel.
Or slice things up and leave on an old bedsheet on a layer of old newspapers to dry, if you're drying roots for storage.

Using water to clean leaves now, that shouldn't be necessary. Sometimes it is, though, and if you're after the basal leaves of biennial herbs (like mullein) or perennials (like dandelion) you might need to wash them, as mud spatters on low and wide leaves when it's raining a lot. Pat your washed leaves dry between sheets or towels before tincturing or drying, especially if these leaves are fuzzy.


Hah! Funny...i was giving a talk about desert plants last night, and an was talking about making oils, particularly from chaparral/creosote bush. A lady asked me if i "washed" it before making the oil. It took me aback, cause, really, I've not needed to wash many thing before tincturing, or oiling. Especially not chaparral, where the water would wash away some of the resins, and then possibly contaminate my fresh plant oil. *blink blink* I've seen one or two dirty leaved plants in my wildcrafting days, but by far it really hasn't been an issue. maybe i conciously avoid the mud splattered mullien leaves... *shrug*
Roots...yeah, they are a different story, scrub scrub a dub!

Yeah, I rarely wash leaf. Mostly my leaves are going to be dried, and the sand'n'dirt will fall off by the time the leaf gets crushed and jammed into a jar.
But sometimes some leaves do need washing, and fuzzy mullein leaves belong to that group, in rainy summers. 'course, I could pick higher-up leaf, but there's so much more of the basal rosette leaves that sometimes I go for those instead.
If it's been raining a lot they might be covered in mud. That won't fall off as the leaves dry, so there, I use water before I dry the leaf. No biggie, the leaf is wet anyway, because it's been raining a lot ...

I do sometimes spray water on a plant and then let it dry before picking some like creosote-- depending on how dry it has been the whole plant can appreciate the water and then if there is any sticky dust of spiders- they will be off- and on a living plant I feel it has little impact on reducing the oils-- when picking some creosote the other day a very yellow spider the color of the flowers came off with the small bits I picked-- it had been raining a few days before so I didn't water the plant before hand-

Ah, Sharon, but you're in the desert. Our plants are usually more regularly washed by rainfall.