A Piece of History that Few Talk About and I Don’t Blame Them!

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A Piece of History that Few Talk About and I Don’t Blame Them!

 

dyeing leather in 1860-72

 

Thanks Tammy Marion for sending me this.

Did you know they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. Once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery and if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”.  But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low. The next time you’re washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

 

Now we just flush it away, but historically, pee had real value. The Smithsonian lists some of the things that it used to be used for:

1) Tanning leather. Urine is full of urea, which degrades into ammonia.

Ammonia in water acts as a caustic but weak base. Its high pH breaks down organic material, making urine the perfect substance for ancients to use in softening and tanning animal hides. Soaking animal skins in urine also made it easier for leather workers to remove hair and bits of flesh from the skin.

2) Cleaning and whitening clothes. The ammonia removes stains and intensifies the colors of dyes. “Many launderers preferred it to soap.”

3) Gunpowder. Urine can be used to make saltpetre, a key ingredient of the explosive.

4) Tooth Whitener. Again, from the ammonia.

5) Commenters picked up the subject and noted that urine was also used as a health supplement (Gandhi would drink his own every morning and Madonna has claimed that she used it to cure her athlete’s foot)

6) Today one of the most important uses of urine would be to recover the phosphorus. Really, given how valuable the stuff is, perhaps it is time to stop throwing it away.

 

where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.

 

relatedreading

“Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” on The Water Closet

What Was a Honey Wagon?- The Job of a Night Soil Scavenger

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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