Nuts ‘n Bolts
After a few more months of running clinics, we’ve made some updates and additions to our service manual. In order to share what we’ve learned and help you to better serve your own communities, the manual is available online. We’ve also created a tab on the Herb Bus website that will always link to the most current edition.
Fire up your engines… your communities need you!
Viva La Herb Bus!
One thing’s for sure– herbalists go through a lot of bottles. For a profession where environmental impact rates high on the list of our concerns, the last thing we want to do is add to a bunch of bottles, caps, and droppers to the mountainous landfills. I clean and reuse bottles and wanted to share with you the methods I have found safe and efficient.
When a bottle is returned to me, I pour out any leftover tincture, oil, etc and place the bottles into a hot, soapy bath, leaving them to soak for a time to allow the labels and any residue to loosen. The labels will practically fall off, and for the more stubborn parts, simply use the label bits that did come free and rub that over the remaining adhered label. That will work it free.
I have a number of different bottle brushes with which I scrub the inside of each bottle. As for the droppers, I dissemble them, separating the pipettes, the squeeze bulbs, and the plastic rings from one another. I use phenolic cone lined caps and these cones are popped free with the use of a pointed set of tweezers. These bits and pieces are all then immersed in a soapy, hot bath for a soak. I use my favorite tool, a mascara wand (purchased from a beauty supply store) to clean the inside of the pipettes, squeeze bulbs, and other hard to reach places. After this prewash I pack everything into a bin for the next step.
In order to feel like the bottles and tops have received a complete wash and sterilization for reuse, I like to use a dishwasher and program it for the heavy duty wash with the high heat setting. Since I am not gifted with a dishwasher at my own house, the next step involves schlepping all the bottles and various accoutrement to my parent’s house (is there ever a time we stop needing assistance from our folks) to run them through their machine. I use a simple eco-friendly detergent with the above mentioned settings.
After they have been run through, I schlep them back home for the final stages of this “ever-so-time-consuming-but-totally-worth-it” cleaning protocol. The bottles are lined up against my west facing window bank to allow for any last bits of moisture to escape and the tops are laid out on a clean towel. The blue bottle in the picture above is filled with 95% alcohol, which is the same alcohol I use for making my tinctures. I spritz them all over and wipe them down with a thin cotton towel. To reach the inside of the squeeze bulbs I again use that trusty mascara wand. Finally, all is reassembled to be used once more to dole out sweet, sweet herbal medicine
For any bottle or top that doesn’t pass muster (using organoleptic evaluation– sight and smell) they are put back into the bin for another cleaning. You will find that over time, the squeeze bulbs loose their integrity (notice in the photograph that some are starting to look a bit grey) and they will eventually get pulled. This is a bit frustrating, because the pipettes and ring are still completely fine. I have searched and have yet to find a distributer of just the bulbs. So I’ve taken to keeping the extra pipettes in a cup for tastings of herbal concoctions I’m making, which feels like a fine way to spend their retirement!
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I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who has already contributed so much to getting the Herb Bus rolling. This herbalista feels grateful to belong to such a generous community. There have been some inquiries about how one might make herbal donations to stock our apothecary. This is something we are grateful for, but also need to be quite specific about. The simple fact is that the Herb Bus is quite small. We fit an entire clinic into that little bus and so are particular about what items we stock. We have now created an “Apothecary Wish List” and plan to keep it regularly updated with both herbs we are low on and herbs that we seem to dispense at a high rate.
The wish list is posted as both a main tab on this blog and a pdf version on the HERBALISTA website. We care deeply about our clients, so please– read the list carefully and follow all labeling instruction. And thank you for caring about this sweet little bus on a mission! Viva la Herb Bus!
Clinic can be a demanding environment. The main challenge we face as a mobile clinic, beyond typical medical stressors such as illness and pain, is how to provide a sense of calm and security when we have so many additional unknowns (the location, the weather, access to facilities, etc…)
The Herb Bus Service Manual is a work in progress, that outlines some of the nuts ‘n bolts to running the Herbalista Free Clinic– things such as station set-up, sanitation, intake considerations, forms & supplies lists. Hope folks find this a helpful guide.
Click here to view The HERB BUS MANUAL
Viva la Herb Bus!
My VW bus is small, so the clinic itself will happen mostly outside of the vehicle, with the interior serving as the apothecary/dispensary/kitchen. Lucky for me, the world of VW buses is a bit… shall we say, cultish, and all manner of accessories have been created with the mind of making life on the road in the VW more convenient and enjoyable.
After weeding through the many options, I decided on the E-Z Awning, an affordable, easy to erect 8×8 canopy that will be mounted to the side of the bus when we are stationed. Now we can sit out of the rain/sun/etc while we work! It has been ordered and due for delivery on Monday!
Update: The awning has arrived!