Appalachia Medicinal Remedies

Medicinal Spiderwebs

spider web

“I am 73, and back in the day, lived in the country, along with my parents and 8 younger siblings. One hot summer Saturday, my 12 year old brother fell off a fence onto property used by a neighbor for his hogs, and landed on a broken glass jar which was buried in a pig-wallow. The broken glass slashed the underside of his foot severely. I remember the wide cut standing open and fleshy, with blood gushing. In my 13 year old superior manner (read “know it all”), I demanded my father bundle him up and take him to the doctor. Instead, Daddy sent me to the shed where the winter stove was stored for a handful of soot from the stove pipe and some spider webs. While I was gone, Daddy soaked brother’s foot in coal-oil and when I got back, he packed that awful wound with soot and spider web, wrapped it with a clean rag and left brother on the porch swing. You know, that wound healed in about a week and hardly left a scar! By the way, this same daddy took care of his sore throats by sleeping with dirty socks pinned around his neck. His sore throats never lasted more than 24 hours.”

—Edna Earl


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    December 18, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Ashes that are freshly burned are free of contaminants and give the platelets in the blood something to latch onto and congeal into a scab; I expect that if you run a liquid like water through ashes and get lye, it’s possible the same thing happens with blood. Lye is, after all, used for cleansing. Spider’s webs also help the blood congeal and scab up. Excellent first-aid for when you’re up the creek without a hospital.

  • Reply
    Helen Garrett Jones
    October 22, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    My father gad a black mark on his leg by his ankle for all his shot 42 years. He told us it was cobwebs and sute used to fill his gash from axe glancing off wood. I also know I stepped on broken Clorox bottle in wood and cut my big toe as a young child. Daddy’s sister poured kerosene on it and wrapped it with a rag. Must have worked, I stull have the toe at age 75. Bbb

  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    October 22, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    I must strongly disagree with the sore throat/dirty sock remedy. I was plagued with sore throats through childhood; Nothing worked until penicillin came along!! Boy, was I relieved.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    It is off the subject, but I just thought out of the clear blue today about “whatnots”. Tipper, is there an entry in DARE for that?

    • Reply
      October 23, 2020 at 5:57 am

      Ron-it’s not listed in DARE. I’ll have to check out my other books and see if it shows up 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 22, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    Epson salts were the treatment of choice for us either to soak in or bound in a wet rag on the wound. Also a red liquid that burned like h**l. Daddy would take long swabs & paint our sore throats with it. Also vicks Salve–put in boiling water to breathe in or a dab to melt in your mouth. I actually remember a risin’ on my chin that was treated with fat back meat.

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    October 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    havent heard of this one but a lot of old remedies have some basis in truth and are tried and true it am in the same age bracket

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 22, 2020 at 10:26 am

    I have heard of using soot on cuts but have never actually seen it done. I have heard of using spiderwebs too but it was on a previous blog post of yours. Most of my wounds were treated with a twice daily soak in epsom salts dissolved in very hot water followed by a dowsing of McNess Red Liniment.

    I am confused about coal oil. I didn’t think it and kerosene were the same thing. I though kerosene was called lamp oil. I thought coal oil came from coal and kerosene from crude oil.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2020 at 10:24 am

    I don’t remember my parents or grandparents ever mentioning spiderwebs being used on wounds but they sure used the turpentine and the coal oil. I remember my Mother saying as children they were given coal oil or turpentine with cherry bark for a sore throat. Seems it always took care of the problem.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2020 at 10:14 am

    These are fascinating remedies, and should be noted. I am wondering, though, why cobweb and spiderweb are both used in describing the remedies? A cobweb is a collection of dust and a spiderweb is manufactured and spun by the spider. It is reasonable that this spider ‘silk’ contains antibiotic and healing properties.

  • Reply
    J. Wayne Fears
    October 22, 2020 at 8:50 am

    When I was about7 years old my grandmother was spurred by a large rooster we had. The three inch gash on her leg bled profusely. Quickly my dad started applying coal oil and I was instructed to crawl under our old house and fetch a wad of spider webs, which I did. The spider webs was applied to the coal oil soaked wound and the bleeding stopped. Within a few weeks the wound had healed with no complications. My grandmother seriously told me that if I had gotten black widow webs it would have healed quicker. There were no doctors anywhere near Tater Knob.

  • Reply
    October 22, 2020 at 8:32 am

    My daddy would use kerosene on our cuts. When growing up, I was better than car tires at finding nails, seems like I would stick a couple in my foot each year. I also worked on a job at one time that involved handling card machine flats (cotton mill) with stiff wire tops without gloves. My hands got stuck by the wire but they were constantly in kerosene and never got sore or infected.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 22, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Never knew of cobwebs used medically. I have never been clear on how to use sticky spider webs on a wound.

    But I know of turpentine, coal oil and even diesel being used on wounds. We were given turpentine for worms.I reckon it worked.

    I worked at a tie yard one summer and got a green 7 x 9 crosstie on my finger tip. It looked pretty grim. The lift driver immediately took me to the diesel tank and washed it off. It healed up fine and the scar is almost worn away now. That’s when I learned pain can make you sick.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 22, 2020 at 8:17 am

    I don’t know anyone using spider webs for wounds but have known of coal oil used. Dad told me had used coal oil for sore throat by gargling and let a small amount down his throat. He told me to never try it for I may get strangled to death.
    I have two scars on one foot and both bad cuts were treated with turpentine. No infection in either cut.
    I had a neighbor years ago that treated all his cuts with clorox bleach. I was at his house one day and he cut his index finger badly on a lawnmower blade. He ask me to pour the bleach in the cut. That seemed too harsh of a treatment to me but his finger healed with a barely noticeable scar.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    October 22, 2020 at 8:06 am

    In my opinion, the old remedies worked wonders whereas now it’s all about the dollar and a revolving door of so called “care.” Don’t think I’m not putting these remedies in my mind’s book of healing to be called on later. Turpentine is excellent as a DEWORMER and parasite killer too! Thanks once again dear Tipper and keep the great stuff coming! You’re fantastic in all things folk!!!! You’re admired and appreciated and I think you’re sweeter than honey!!!!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 22, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I think the cobwebs are to stop the bleefing. I was ‘treated’ with turpentine for all mannrr of things as a child

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    October 22, 2020 at 7:39 am

    Turpentine was the great fixer at our house. Later I remember always having a tin of Raleigh salve in the medicine chest.

  • Reply
    John Hart
    October 22, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Why are we paying $10 for a tube of ointment? The last tube I bought was a prescription. It did help with the healing, but old ways are good.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 22, 2020 at 7:02 am

    When I was growing up we always had a little bottle of turpentine in the cabinet for any cuts or scrapes we got. It not only killed the germs it took the soreness out. I used it all my life and when I was grown and the Deer Hunter was little I went to buy a bottle of turpentine for his cuts and scrapes. Not only was I not allowed to buy it but I got a lecture on how dangerous and poisonous it was. The pharmacist really scolded me about it.
    The turpentine worked as I’m sure the coal oil did!

  • Reply
    Steve Diamond
    October 22, 2020 at 6:49 am

    My grandad use to use turpentine on cuts and splinters.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    October 22, 2020 at 6:32 am

    My dad, Ralph C. Byers and I were cutting pulpwood one Christmas, I must have been about 10. I was hanging onto one end of a crosscut saw and got my knee punctured by the saw. We were using coal oil(kerosene) in a Coke bottle to lubricate the saw. Dad poured the coal oil into the wound on my knee and it never even got sore! I have heard about sut having healing properties but this is the first for cobwebs.

    • Reply
      October 22, 2020 at 7:17 am

      I always heard the saying ” It will either kill you or cure you” MS Eael’s farther must have practice that philosophy..

    Leave a Reply