Monday, March 19, 2007

Porter's Salve

Yesterday my son got a splinter. We were at my parent’s house and it was late in the
afternoon. He was playing in the dirt. I was inside, preparing to leave, when I heard a screech. My son came running in the house, screaming
as if he had just been attacked by a cougar. He was completely hysterical. I
gave him a hug and did my best to comfort him but he was inconsolable and incapable of communicating in a coherent
manner. I did not see any obvious
wounds so I decided to wait until he calmed down to find out what
happened. He finally yelped between
screams that he had gotten a splinter.  Here's a little sample of his rant:

“Get it out Mommy! I
want it to stop hurting. I don’t want
it to get in my body! I want you to
make it stop hurting. Ow! Owie! Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! Ow!” This was repeated over and
over again in an unbearably loud, piercing screech. I enlisted my Mother, an RN, to help me get the splinter
out. We sat my still-hysterical son on
the bathroom counter and tried to get him to let my Mother see his
splinter. Here’s how he responded:

“I don’t want tweezers. NO tweezers! You get it out
Mommy. You just get it out with your
hand! Get it out! Ow! Ow! Ow! It hurts! It still hurts! It hurts real

My Mom left to sterilize a needle (the splinter was embedded
pretty deep and no part of it was sticking out). After she walked out of the room I asked my son if I could look
at it. He was apprehensive but he allowed
me to look at his finger after he determined that I did not have any tools in
my possession.

“Get it out with your hands Mommy. I don’t want tweezers,” he begged me between screams of pain.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to dig it out with my nails. I told him that I couldn’t get it out unless
I used tweezers. He freaked and
continued to scream. I don’t think I
can do his behavior justice. If Wes
Craven were around to hear it, he may have hired my son to do some voiceover
work on his next horror flick. It was
awful, ear-piercing and unbelievably frustrating. I wondered if it would ever end and my mind started to race. Did he break his finger? What about his arm? What if he broke his arm and I am squeezing
his poor, little broken bones with a death grip to get this stupid splinter
out? Why is he screaming? Did he fall and bump his head while he was
outside, inflicting a concussion that makes him scream uncontrollably? Shit. I’m the worst mom ever.

After much drama, we gave up trying to get the splinter out and packed the kids in the
car. My son was still screaming
uncontrollably. As I was backing out of
the drive-way, doing my best to come to terms with my new life as the mom of
the kid with the concussion that makes him scream uncontrollably, a light bulb
went off in my head. Porter's Salve! I forgot about my husband’s family’s old
school, Appalachian remedy. Porter's
Salve is a drawin’ salve (I absolutely cannot spell ‘drawing’ the correct way
and convey what this product is). It’s a product that was probably featured in ads in Kentucky during episodes of “Hee Haw”
in 1975. It works, though. It “draws things out.” I wouldn’t use it to remove a bullet embedded
in my chest (my husband’s family would) but it sure does work like a charm on

When we got home I put some Porter's Salve (the Hale's always have a can on-hand) and a band-aid on
the splinter. The screaming had ceased,
thank goodness, and my son seemed resigned to a life of chronic pain. We just finished dinner and I removed
yesterday’s band-aid. There is no trace
of that pesky splinter in my son’s finger. Nothin’ like a little Appalachian folk remedy, y’all!


  1. Another Porter's Salve testimonial: I, along with every family member and friend I have, tried for two days to remove a splinter deeply lodged in Katherine's finger. Finally, I decided to try a little homegrown remedy and apply a little drawing salve (and Julianne is right, you must pronounce this "draugh'n" using your best Southern English). Anyway, 24 hours later, I pulled off the bandaid, and the pesky splinter had been "drawn" right to the surface where I plucked it out in half a second with my fingernail! Amazing stuff!! A must for every medicine cabinet!!

  2. Oh, and Julianne, just for kicks I'll review my DVR'd episodes of Hee Haw to see if Porter's Salve is advertised.

  3. Porter's Salve?? YOU BET!!! I don't know why you acted with such shock when the stuff worked, why, I remember the time when my daddy cut his hand offt within the choppin' axe, he just stuck that stub down in the barrel of coal oil to wash er off, then my grannie grabbed some clean rags and a can of Porters' Salve, coated the arm with the salve, wrapped er up an, shor nuff, come mornin' he'd growd his self a brand new hand, and thisin only had 5 fingers!!! Ya kan't get the stuff up North, so we has ta have hours smuggled in across the border when we run low.

  4. Hmm. Many comments come to mind, I'll just share a few!
    1. Does this drawin salve work for bikini line hairs?
    And, 2. I gotta meet this Papadale.
    And, 3. One other splinter tidbit I've heard but have yet to try: If a little bit of the splinter is sticking out, you can use tape rather than tweezers, supposedly, to git it!

  5. Jacquelyn-
    I knew I could count on you for some recorded Hee Haw episodes. I'm having flashbacks from New Year's Eve. There's only so much overalls and hay a girl (well, most girls) can take!

  6. Papa Dale-
    Oh, I've heard the stories. I know that Grandpa would use Porter's Salve to grow a finger if the need should arise.
    We need to start a South-North Porter's Salve trade. There's bound to be a market for the stuff!

  7. Hmmm... Spaz. I'm pretty sure that Porter's Salve does not draw out things that are SUPPOSED to be there, i. e. bikini hairs. So sorry to dissappoint.

  8. Yep, I too can attest to the fact that Porter's Salve works wonders. I am 48 years old and have had a can of Porter's in the cupboard all of my life and still do to this day. I was raised using it and my kids were raised with it and I would imagine that when my daughter announces she is expecting, it will be one of the first things I supply her with. But when I was a very young girl I can remember my brother "wiped out" on his bike and got gravel lodged in his leg. My mom was not one to run us right off to the doctor's office so she took an old sheet and slathered it with Porter's and placed it on my brother's leg. In the morning we peeled it off with amazement every pebble was pulled right out of the wound and it healed up wonderfully from there. Great to know other's share the same love for the stuff that we do. Love'd reading the comments.

  9. I grew up in the South with Parents from New Jersey, and EVERYONE in the family used Porter's Salve to cure any 'boo-boo' we inflicted upon our selves. I'm sure they even used it on my dad when my uncle flipped the tractor onto his leg whilst goofing off on the farm--in Jersey. Who said country was just southern? :)

  10. I grew up near where it is made, which is the city it originally came from, so I grew up around it. Nobody talks about it, but its always been there. No one knows where to get it, but they have stockpiles of it.
    But a funny story, I was in Ann Arbor, 3~4 hours north of where this stuff comes from (here it is known as 'stinky salve' for a reason) and I was in like at a cookie store in the mall. Suddenly, I smell something, and a few whiffs and the lady with this guy in front of me turns and looks at me, then her guy, and says "See, he can smell it too! That is horrible stuff!" and before she really could finish berating her guy, I spoke up with "How the hell did you find Porters this far North?" and the lady was in shock that I knew exactly what it was, and the guy got to mock her.

  11. My husband uses it for chapped lips! Hence the name, Bandaid Man! It smells like bandaids. How romantic, when he applies this at bedtime. Did I mention it is thick and white?!