Soaking by Tasha Halpert

Tree, Leaf and Puddle    When I was small if I got a cut my mother often put iodine on it. I hated that because it stung like anything, and it turned my finger orange. Sometimes she used alcohol, which was equally bad. As a somewhat clumsy and heedless child I often fell down, banged myself, cut myself or otherwise got scraped up, so I was well acquainted with these disinfectants and the white Band-Aids that always hurt when they were pulled off.

As an adult I prefer something easier and more pleasant: soaking. I thought about this recently as I soaked my sore finger. I had stuck with a knife and the small wound was bothersome. As I did so it I thought of how well the application of hot water works to heal small cuts and infections as well as reduce swellings. Over time it speeds up the healing process and prevents infections from spreading. Heat is a remarkable healer. However I would probably have been too impatient as a child for soaking.

Heat also can work wonders in other ways. Last month I pulled a muscle in my thigh. Nothing seemed to help or make it better until my acupuncturist suggested applying a heating pad to it three times a day for twenty to thirty minutes. The pain soon diminished and it took only about a week or so to go away completely. Soaking the sore muscle in heat did the trick. Combined with a bit of patience, soaking is good medicine.

Soaking has a number of virtues. An important aspect of the soaking process, however, is time. For instance, the best way to clean a sticky, gummy pot, pan or dish is to soak it for a while. Often hot water is all that is needed to resolve whatever has adhered itself to the utensil. Occasionally the addition of soap or a scrubbing sponge helps. Once again, soaking plus time equals situation resolved. It is remarkable how much hot water helps to resolve a difficult or even a painful problem.

Stains on clothing also respond to soaking, though sometimes it is cold water that is wanted rather than hot, depending on the stain. Soaking also works as well for physical aches and pains. When the body is achy, one of the great luxuries in life is a hot bath in which to soak. Epsom salts, an inexpensive remedy added to the hot water in the tub increases its efficacy.

In today’s fast paced world impatient people often seek speedy resolutions. Medicine must work overnight if not immediately. With the correct chemicals clothes, pots and pans must sparkle right away. This attitude doesn’t allow for the gentle, safe application of time and soaking. An old fashioned way of doing things can often be more effective, less expensive and in many ways perhaps easier over all.

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