Friday, August 3, 2012

Waterproofing with Fireweed

Fireweed blossoms
 If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you've undoubtedly noticed the tall fiery spire that is fireweed.  It grows along roadsides and other disturbed areas and has lots of uses.  The one that drew my attention most was that the Blackfoot native americans rubbed fireweed blossoms into their mittens and rawhide thongs to waterproof them.  I have leather Soft Star moccasin type shoes, so I've been eager to see the fireweed bloom ever since!

The coloring of the pollen didn't show up, but on the first day the flower blooms, it is turquoise and has a lipoid (fat like) coating, which I am guessing helps with waterproofing.
The mess I made, rubbing flowers into shoes.  My kids must think I'm mad.  Well, maybe not.  This is pretty normal for me.
left not waterproofed, right, waterproofed.  
Tested by putting water on the shoe.  didn't soak into the waterproofed one like it did into the non-waterproofed one.  Hope it works well this winter.
There were a few flowers leftover.  I read that an infusion of the flowers in oil is a good treatment for childhood eczema.  I know several people whose kids have this issue, so I decided to pour Organic extra virgin olive oil over the fresh flowers and put it in a sunny window for 2 weeks.  Every day I wipe the inside of the jar of condensation so it won't mold and shake the jar a little.  It smells lovely!  I think I will strain it and add some beeswax so that I will have a nice salve.

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