Oils and greases rendered from various animals and animal parts were well used in the Ozarks to cure a wide variety of ailments. For example skunk oil, or skunk grease, and possum grease were both commonly used alone and mixed with herbs to cure colds and chills. Here are some more examples from our folklorists:

Vance Randolph – Ozark Magic and Folklore

Goose grease for earache – “Others prefer to pour sweet oil, or skunk oil, or goose grease strained through silk into their ears.” ~Randolph OMF 108

Church bell grease for deafness – “Grease from the mountings of a church bell, put into the ears at intervals, is believed to cure deafness.” ~Randolph OMF 148

Skunk oil for the croup – “Many Ozark youngsters are dosed with large quantities of skunk oil for throat ailments, particularly croup. This stuff is rendered from the fat of skunks trapped in the winter a strong stinking mess which makes many children vomit.” ~Randolph OMF 93

Skunk oil with peppermint for rheumatism – “The grease from skunks or civet cats, mixed with peppermint leaves, is highly praised by some hillfolk as a lubricant for rheumatic joints.” ~Randolph OMF 108


Kay Carter and Bonnie Krause – Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks 

Possum grease in compound applied to chest for colds – “Take kerosene and turpentine and camphor and possum grease if you have it…take this and warm it and put it on a cloth, put that on your chest.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO 2

Possum grease and goose grease in compound for colds – “We used goose grease or possum grease and my father would mix powdered quinine, coal oil, or kerosene and turpentine and camphorated oil and made a thing for our chest or to put around out necks.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Goose grease rubbed on chest for cold – “Everybody had geese and when they killed geese, they saved the grease. You get a cold and they’d rub your breast with a flannel cloth with that goose grease.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO 3


Mary Celestia Parler – Folk Beliefs from Arkansas 

Possum grease for chapped hands – “Possum fat was used for chapped hands and feet.” ~Parler FBA II 1690

Bacon grease for chigger bites – “Bacon grease rubbed on chigger welts will kill the chigger.” ~Parler FBA II 1718

Goose grease and pine resin for colds – “Goose grease boiled with pine rosin rubbed on the face is good for colds.” ~Parler FBA II 1801

Hog penis grease for colds and rash – “Take the fat from a butchering hog’s penis and render it and strain it through a clean cloth. This salve is used for rash, cold on the chest, and such (everything).” ~Parler FBA II 1805

Owl grease for colds – “For a cold rub owl grease on the bottom of the feet.” ~Parler FBA II 1807

Skunk grease, turpentine, and kerosene for colds – “Skunk grease, kerosene, and turpentine mixed together is good for bad colds.” ~Parler FBA II 1802

Skunk oil used internally and externally for colds – “Catch a skunk, cook the skunk for oil. Rub the skunk oil on the body, and drink some of it to cure cold.” ~Parler FBA II 1803

“Skunk oil is supposed to be good for a cold. You take a skunk and skin it, be careful that you do not bust the stink bag. After skinning the skunk, you take the fat and then you render it out. The oil you get from this should be given to children for a cold.” ~Parler FBA II 1820