DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is a byproduct of the wood pulp paper making industry. It is made from wood by complex industrial means. In the U.S., DMSO can only be sold legally as a solvent. MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane) is a metabolite of DMSO. It is made by heating wood in water at high heat, under pressure, with added lye (made from soda ash, made from seaweed) and mirablite (sodium sulfate, Na2SO4).

I decided to try to reverse engineer a home version of DMSO.  I ended up substituting almost all the ingredients and processes so whether or not what I made is DMSO or something else, I don't know, but I am pleased with it, whatever it is. After using if for awhile, my skin is becoming more resilient.
You might say that DMSO is a distant cousin of turpentine or tea tree oil with added minerals. They are all extracts taken from wood processed with heat and water. For DMSO, they mix lye and a mineral salt called mirabilite in with the hot, wet wood pulp and then strain the pulp to make paper and the liquid left over is dmso. So, in a much over-simplifed way, you could say that DMSO is a wood decoction made with mirabilite and lye.

There is no official explanation as to why DMSO acts to reduce joint pain, as some people say it does, but if I were to wing a guess, I would say that the wood-derived dimethyl acts as a transport medium to ferry the sulfoxide and other trace minerals used in the pulping process through the skin where they can be used as vital minerals.

a quart full of pine needles and twig pieces
a handful of other medicinal herbs and plants as available
1 quart of water
1 teaspoon of wood or plant ash (white powder from a garden fire).
1 teaspoon epsom salts
1 teaspoon sea salt

Make a decoction from the plant
Make a decoction of pieces of pine tree and any suitable tree leaves and plants or herbs.
To make a decoction, put plant material in a glass, pyrex or baked enamel bowl, cover with water, place a cover on it and put it in a slow cooker and turn it to simmer. Commercial DMSO uses hardwoods, but this is because the process is intended to make paper, not skin tonic. Since I was making a skin tonic, I substituted plant material that was medicinal in its own right. Other suitable plants are: leylandii pine, juniper, rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, oregano, sweetgum tree leaves, chrysanthemum and sage, which is precisely what I used. As I chose them partly because that's what I had available at the time, I'm sure other medicinal plants would work as well and bring their own value to the final product. Such plants could be eucaplytus, feverfew, birch, hawthorn, borage, clover etc.

Add lye to the plants and water in the slow cooker.
For each quart of water, add a teaspoon of wood ash.

Mirabilite (sodium sulfate) is known as "mang xiou" in Chinese Traditional Medicine where it is used internally to treat constipation, sore throat, conjunctivitis and mouth ulcers, and externally for skin ulcers and wound healing.

Mirabilite is found in several places around the world including Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA; the Great Salt Lake in Utah (USA); Trona, California, USA; Camp Verde, Arizona (USA); Quero Lake in LaMancha, Spain; the southern Aral Sea basin, Uzbekistan; Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Willi Agatz Mine, Dresden, Saxony, Germany; in China, it is mined in the Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces; and near salt water springs and salt lakes.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine it is recommended it not be used by pregnant women. Mirabilite is a mineral salt, named after the Latin "sal mirabile" or miracle salt.

Substitute: I would use mirabilite if I could find a bulk source. Otherwise, I use a combination of garden fertilizer grade epsom salts (magnesium sulfate, related to sodium sulfate mirabilite) and sea salt (source of sodium). If you can't get magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), get Flowers of Sulfur powder.

Lye (aka caustic soda) is made from ash and is very caustic. It is used to break down the wood pulp for paper quickly. I will not use it as it is very dangerous to work with. Actually, mixing wood ash with water is pretty much lye.

Substitute: Powdered ash from from a wood or garden vegetation fire. You can also burn kelp to a white powder to get soda ash.
Ash is a source of minerals. The word "lye" comes from the word "alkali", which is the Arabic word for "plant ashes", so plant ashes and water were the original lye.

The wood used in making commercial DMSO is from those hardwoods that are good for paper production, not medicine. Since I intend to make a dmso-substitute as the primary result, not as a leftover from paper manufacturing, and use it as a health product,  I may as well use those woods or plants  that can contribute medicinal qualities, such as sweetgum tree, eucaplytus or pine.

Make a decoction by filling a 1 quart pyrex dish with clippings from leylandii pine (it may start neighborhood wars, but it's great for clearing out sinuses.).
Cover with water
Add 1 tablespoon of ash and shake bowl to mix in
Put a tight-fitting cover on dish..
Place in a crockpot and steep for 3 days.
Remove from crockpot and strain out liquid.
Add 1 tablespoon powdered mirablite if available or other mixed powdered minerals to the strained-out liquid.
Bring to a boil in a baked enamel saucepan, then remove from heat and let cool.

 My First Batch 

At the time I decided to do this, I already had a batch of plant-based decoction brewing in an uncovered crockpot near my bed. I run it at night to breathe better and have more colorful dreams while I sleep. When the water runs down, I fill it up with more tap water. When it stops being efficacious I throw it away and go collect more plant material and start over. This one had been steeping like this for about a week.

The plant materials I had been infusing thus were mostly:
+ leylandii pine
+ juniper and
+ rosemary
with lesser amounts of
+ thyme
+ lemon balm
+ oregano
+ chrysanthemum and sage
+ sage

Those being what I happened to pick when I walked around the garden to fetch the material.

I strained out the plant material and to a cup of the dark brown, aromatic liquid I added 1 teaspoon of powdered garden-grade magnesium sulfate and 1 teaspoon of powdered borax. I meant to add a teaspoon of sea salt but forgot.

I didn't boil it but I let the liquid and minerals steep for awhile, possibly a day, because I had other things to do. When I began putting it on my skin, I had the following results: skin is more resilient (I used the "time takes to bounce back after pulling skin on back of hand out away from body" test), dead, callused skin on feet is drying and falling off and small edamatous area on leg is reduced. I'm quite happy with these seredipitous results and presume that herbal plants will make a better dmso (or something) than the plants chosen for their paper fibers.
Salt: Your Way To Health by Dr. David Brownstein. A good book for those who have been told by their doctor to cut down on salt because of high blood pressure, and why natural sea salt is good for you.
Our Earth Our Cure: A Handbook of Natural Medicine for Today by Raymond Dextreit.
Fire Your Doctor! How to Be Independently Healthy by Andrew W. Saul
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harr Buhner
The Cure Is in the Cupboard  Using oil of oregano for better health.
Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care From A Noted Vermont Country Doctor

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