I belong to a Tree Orchard cooperative that is attempting to eradicate Poison Ivy. I want to do this without Round Up, Gasoline or any other material that is harmful to soil/water ecosystems. Let the experiments begin!
I've heard for years that clove oil works best but no one has much to say about their personal experiences with this defoliant especially in this forum.
I found a product called St. Gabriel Laboratories Poison Ivy Defoliant which is currently unavailable. It contains 12% clove oil, 8% sodium laurel sulfate (a surfactant), vinegar (for cutting the oil?), Lecithin (another surfactant), water, citric acid (emulsifier??, keeping oil/water from separating), and Mineral Oil. Mineral oil has many uses; Wikipedia has this to say, "Horticultural oil is often made of a combination of mineral oil and detergent. It is sprayed on plants to control scale, aphid and other pest populations by suffocating the pest". With approval from my group, I would like to make my own version of this product. (I will keep you posted.)
I am highly allergic to poison ivy and the oak and sumac versions. Had the Oak over 3/4 of my body while staying on a farm in California and despite several hot water washings of my clothing and sleep bag, I continued to contract it when I returned to Michigan. I had it for a total of 14 weeks and the ONLY things that helped me were ice/cold water baths and one application of a prescription topical steroid (repeated applications did not work). I wish I had had the forethought to go to the Pacific Ocean (salt destabilizes the oil, cold water soothes/washes oils away).
When the multitude of purchased products failed (see Oatmeal based creams, Oatmeal itself, hydro cortisone applications, calamine lotion, tumeric powder, etc.), I tried the scalding hot water idea and I think this is pure non sense. Why? I believe the Poison ivy rash is a heat reaction under the skin. Even if the oil is removed from the skin, the mechanical action of scratching creates friction (hence heat) and spreads the rash. Doctors say this is not possible--that only the oil can spread the rash--but I think they are wrong.
At week 11, I was visiting friends in Indiana. We decided to make a fire in the fireplace. Oooh. Bad news for me. Simply sitting on the couch 3 feet away caused me such anguish! The rash flared up again after that and the only thing that brought me relief on the ride home, was to buy a bag of ice. I divided the bag, putting half of the ice on one thigh and half on the other. I was real careful after that to avoid heat.
I talked to forest fire rangers in California. They said it can be deadly to inhale burned plant material and you can really screw up your eyes if you get the smoke in them. Doctors said it's absolutely horrible to get the rash on your genitalia which is something that happens more frequently with men. They also said not much is known about PI/PO reactions despite the fact that people have been getting them for a long, long time. Looks like we need more 'scientists' within the community.
Lastly, I want to talk about Jewelweed. It was mentioned by at least one person in this post. Folks say that counteractive plants often grown near their toxic cousins. Jewelweed is one of these plants. I believe Native American Indians used it. If I ever contract the rash again, I would certainly like to give it a try. Literature suggests making a poultice from the leaves and juice of the stems.