Bag Balm: here is a unique product that has been around since 1899. Originally formulated for use on milk cows to siften dry, chapped udders, the products did an equally god job keeping the farmer's hands soft and supple. The square green tin can with the red clover and cowÂ’'s head usually ended up being used in the house instead of the barn. The green can of Bag Balm was a familiar sight back on the farm growing up.
Bag Balm Salve: Not Just for Milk Cows Anymore
Here is a product that has found 1000+ ulterior uses that for the greater part includes far more than just the chapped and dry cow udders. Originally Bag Balm was developed for the dairy industry. Intended as a medicated balm to soften the chapped and dry bag and udders of milk cows, it also heals minor abrasions and wounds with its medicated formula. It was the men that used the product on their dairy herd by applying the product topically and presumably, their wives noticed it also affected the dry and chapped hands of their husbands.
Bag Balm Softens/Moisturizes Dry, Chapped Skin
Rough and chapped hands became much softer and less wrinkled from directly applying Bag Balm to their dairy herd. Eventually, the quintessential green can found its way into the house where the entire family discovered how well it worked. It not only softened dry skin, Bag Balm actually healed sunburn, dry skin and softened feet and helped speed healing of minor cuts and burns.
Uses for Bag Balm Salve
We used Bag Balm on sunburned shoulders and noses, worked it in around dry fingernail beds and in between toes where overnight it seemed to miraculously cure constantly dry flaky skin. Diaper rash on the baby of the home was quickly brought under control as well.
We still used Bag Balm Medicated Salve as it was intended; on our animal pets to treat their injuries. The old tomcat with the dry torn ears benefited from a good Bag Balm massage. We even once stuffed it into his ears to rid him of an ear mite infestation. The cat did not enjoy this of course, -but it seemed to work a charm.
We used Bag Balm liberally on the hunting dogs too when they had chafes, wounds and other minor abrasions. Heck, we even used it to wad into the squeaky hinges of the front door and even here have used Bag Balm as an axle grease on my squeaky chair that sits in front of my computer.
This product has found far more uses than it was originally intended for. Listing all the uses for Bag Balm would be rather redundant because the list is quite extensive.
Yet even to this day, the manufacturer statement on the can reads in part:
"For Animal Use Only. Use for bunches, caked bags, cuts, sore teats, chapping, and inflammation. Also excellent for horses, dogs, and other pets."
Bag Balm contains a mild antiseptic (8-hydroxyquiniline sulfate) in a petroleum jelly and lanolin base, making it safe for human use. The original formula included another and slightly more potent infection-fighting ingredient; 0.005% mercury which is why it also included a statement to keep away from children.
Other products we used on the farm ‘for animal use only’ included ‘Blu-Kote,’ another antiseptic preparation for treating surface wounds on livestock. This product never made it into the house however, as the product to this day contains ingredients not approved for use on humans.
Minor abrasions and various parasite infestations such as ringworm and fungus on the hooves of cattle and horses were treated with Blu-Kote.
Bag Balm in the Home
The manufacturers of Bag Balm probably realizing people’s inclination to use this product on their own bodies caused them to withdraw the minuscule but toxic active ingredient mercury compound from the product and use another, safer medicinal ingredient instead.
Bag Balm can be found in some drug stores, animal and farm outlets as well as ordered online. I have not seen the product in some years even though it is still available. We continue to hear good things about this versatile and venerable product and are eager to bring some home again soon.