When Tracy Mayers looks out at a field of dandelions, she sees liquid gold.
The home support care aide has perfected her own recipe for a dandelion-based salve, which she maintains has surprising medical uses. While she initially only made enough for friends and family, she’s now fielding hundreds of orders from people across the community.
Mayers, 50, first began looking for something to do with dandelions when she moved to her farm on Horse Lake Road from Hope three years ago. When she arrived, she found much of her property covered in dandelions and wanted to find do something productive with them.
“I thought there’s got to be something I can do with these. I started researching and came across the fact the whole plant is really beneficial. The flower, the root, the leaves, everything,” said Mayers, who works for Interior Health.
Dandelions contain high levels of Vitamin C and potent antioxidants which gives them medicinal properties. At first, she considered making dandelion butter but upon further research decided instead to make a salve. For her ointment, Mayers, along with her son Dustin, picks the flowers and stems of the dandelion and then lets them dry for a couple of days. Once this is done, she places them into glass jars and covers them in oil to begin the infusing process.
Mayers said the more natural the oil, the better the salve. She primarily uses coconut and avocado oil which have huge health benefits of their own.
“You have to let it sit for 10 days in a dark cool place,” she said. “You’ve got to be careful because if you let it sit for too long, it can grow mould and then you need to throw out the whole batch.”
Over the course of 10 days, the oil breaks down the dandelion and draws out the medicinal properties. Mayers then strains the oil through cheesecloth to remove the dandelion remains.
“It comes out like liquid gold. It is literally a gold colour.”
The oil is combined with Mayer’s other “secret ingredients” into a pot and melted down. The mixture is poured into jars and is ready to use the moment it cools into a paste with the feel of vaseline but with a firm texture. She advises those who buy the salves to keep them in a cool place as the oils can go rancid if left out in the sun.
Mayers finds that a big 12-ounce jar will last her family through an entire year of use along with a few smaller jars for travel purposes. This year she’ll be selling three-ounce jars for $5 and larger 12-ounce jars for $20. So far she has 150 orders for the small jars and 50 large jars which makes her “totally excited.”
The dandelion salve is good for eczema, sunburns, rashes and other skin conditions. Mayers said.
She’s also used it for relieving joint and muscle pains by massaging it deep into the skin. Mayers added the salve also works wonders on animals, as friends have used her salve to keep the wounds of dogs and horses clean.
Mayers said she never strips her yard of dandelions, to ensure she leaves some for the bees. When they turn into puffballs, she intends to pick them and blow the seeds around her property.
Making the salve has provided another sort of therapy for Mayers, who nine months ago lost one of her sons, Jonathon, in a tragic quadding accident. This project has given her a reason to get excited again, she said.
“I cry when I say this, but, when new life comes it just makes me so happy. It reminds me that life does go on,” Mayers said. “Getting back into my hobbies and crafts have been very healthy and beneficial for me.”