"Everybody wants to know why I play stronger than any other trumpets. Well, it ain't nothin' mysterious. Ain't no witch doctor, two-head stuff. If you can take the soreness out of your lips, you can put pressure on that horn.
How to do it? I bathe my lips every night, soon as I leave the stand, with witch hazel and lip salve and sweet spirits of nitre. And I bathe 'em again before I go to bed. Sweet spirits of nitre will take the soreness out of anything, man. Oh, it stings! You put it on and then grab a chair for about five minutes, and too many trumpet players aint got the guts to stand the ache. Or they won't use the salve, 'cause its greasy. It's not bad, smells like strawberry.
Now, when I get up to go to work, I put witch hazel and sweet spirits of nitre on again, and by the time I get to the club, I'm OK again. Sure, my lips are scarred up—I been playing that horn fifty years—but they're relaxed at all times, and that's it. If your lips well up a fraction on the mouthpiece, you're in trouble with your notes."
—Louis Armstrong (from Celebrating the Duke, by Ralph J. Gleason, 1975)