A clean bowl or basin is always to be preferred to a stable-bucket, unless a very large quantity has to be dealt with. The amount of bran required is put into the bowl, and boiling water added by slow degrees and with constant stirring. Unless it is done in this way there will be portions almost dry or caked together, and the remainder too thin and sloppy. Bran takes up a large amount of water, and with each stirring will receive more until thoroughly saturated. It is better to squeeze out the superfluous moisture through a cloth than to apply your poultice too wet. The rapid evaporation and tendency on the part of bran to become sour is an objection to its use alone, and it is for this reason very commonly combined with an equal portion of linseed flour, or, what is still better, crushed linseed which has not been deprived of the oil.
A linseed-and-bran poultice prepared in the manner referred to is probably the most serviceable of any, as it has the merit of retaining its wamth and moisture for a long time, while the oil it contains renders it emollient and comforting to the patient.
Crushed linseed is used alone as a poultice where it is particularly desired for its softening and emollient effect, but it does not retain heat so long as when mixed with bran, and fails to adhere so well.
Bread is a convenient substitute for meals, and can be more quickly prepared than any other cataplasm. It has just the opposite objections to linseed, in that it sticks to the skin too persistently, easily dries, and is with difficulty removed.
Bread is improved by the addition of glycerine, the effect of which is to keep it moist for a longer time and prevent it becoming sour.
Treacle mixed with linseed makes it more adhesive, and what is known as more "drawing", in its effects.
Turnips and other roots are boiled until thoroughly soft, mashed, and squeezed in a cloth to get rid of superfluous moisture. When first prepared they are very much too hot to be applied with safety, and cool down so rapidly that they are at best poor substitutes for bran and linseed meal. They are, however, useful substitutes when the latter are not to hand.