In case no regular antiseptic is at hand, there are pretty good wound dressings to be found in the woods. Balsam obtained by pricking the little blisters on the bark of balsam firs is one of them. Others are the honeylike gum of the liquidambar or sweet gum tree, raw turpentine from any pine tree, and the resin procured by boxing (gashing) a cypress or hemlock tree, or by boiling a knot of the wood and skimming off the surface. All of these resins are antiseptic, and the first two are soothing.
Poultices may be needed to relieve the tension of an inflamed part and to hasten suppuration ("draw the pus to a head"). They have no other curative effect than hot-water compresses, but act more efficiently because they hold the heat better and do not require so frequent renewal. A poultice is easily made from cornmeal or oatmeal (flaxseed is not supposed to be in the kit). Mix by stirring a little at a time into boiling water, making a thick paste free from lumps; then spread on cloth to a thickness of 1/2-inch, leaving a 1 1/2-inch margin all around for folding in. The poultice should be made thoroughly antiseptic by dissolving tablets in the water. To prevent it from sticking, grease the part or smear it with oil. Then put on the poultice and, if convenient, cover with a waterproof material. Remember that a cold poultice does no good whatever, and that an old one should not be reheated— make a new one. Renew a large poultice everv four or five hours, a small one every one or two hours.
The woods themselves afford plenty of materials for good poultices. Chief of these is slippery elm, the mucilaginous inner bark of which, boiled in water and kneaded into a poultice, is soothing to inflammation and softens the tissues. Good poultices can also be made from the soft rind of tamarack, the root bark of basswood or cottonwood, and many other trees or plants. None of these should be spread more than 1/4 inch thick. Our frontiersmen, like the Indians, often treated wounds by merely applying the chewed fresh leaves of alder, striped maple (moosewood, or sassafras. You may remember Leatherstocking (he was "Hawkeye" then) advising a wounded companion that "a little bruised alder will work like a charm." Saliva carries Terms: so don't chew but bruise the leaves.
\ poultice of the leaves of the common plantain weed is a first-rate application for burns, scalds, bruises, erysipelas, and ivy poisoning. The powdered leaf applied as a paste, or simply the dry leaf powdered, stops bleeding in a short time.
Mustard plasters are used as counter-irritants. A strong one is made of equal parts of dry mustard and flour; for gentler effect use less mustard in proportion. Make into a paste with lukewarm water, and spread between layers of thin cloth. Leave it on 15 to 20 minutes, or until the skin is well reddened.