Monday, April 27, 2020

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water....

I know we are still all in quarantine, and about to go stir crazy, but let's have a laugh at what we've had to learn again - simple hand washing.
I know it sounds crazy but it's a skill that never dies.

Soap actually was rather an important commodity. Benjamin Franklin's sister had their family recipe and they considered it so important that they buried it when the British occupied their town. So what makes soap??? Making your own soap involves chemicals like Lye, fats (in pioneer times hog fat), and oils for smell.  They are mixed together with good, old water and glycerine. The one thing about homemade soap was the ingredients made it heavy. Soap sinks.

Now, keep that in mind when you are out on the trail for weeks, months at a time and find a stream. Gosh, darn your excited. You get your soap run to the water, disrobe behind a bush or go in with your inner wear, there by scrubbing it clean too. But if the soap goes through your fingers it may sure get away - never to be seen again, unless drought dries up the lake.

This is where an accident makes soap better.

In the year, 1840, a fellow by the name of J.B. Williams decided to make a soap free from a lot of the lye and other ingredients that might be harmful to your skin. Of course, he marketed it for shaving cream and sold it to a company by the name of Proctor and Gamble. It went by the name of Ivorine. The founder of Proctor and Gamble son, Harley Proctor, noted how gentle it was. It reminded him of a bible verse from Psalms 45:8
"All they garments smell of myth, and alones, and cassia out of the ivory palaces whereby they have made they glad."

I bet you know the name by now? So in 1879, Proctor and Gamble sold it's first Ivory Soap with the slogan "It Floats."

Yep, Ivory couldn't get lost in the water because it floats to the top. Rumor has it, a man mixing the air into the soap left the machine on. They came back later and thought it ruined only to find out, the accident made it better.

                                                    First Ivory soap ad for a newspaper

                                              1890 ad for Ivory now appealing to the ladies.

Now, about that bathwater..... Because taking a bath was labor intensive requiring the wife or servant to bring in the water, heat the water, carry it up to the bathing room or to the brass, tin, or wooden tub that served the purpose and filling to the desired height - it was always the husband ( aka bread winner) who got the first soak. Then, in pecking order the males, females, the wife, finally the baby - all in the same water. As you can imagine when it was the child's turn, it was cold and nasty. If you lost control of the little one because of slippery skin, you had to search for him or her in the water. Hence, never throw out the baby with the bath water.

Okay. I hope today's note in history at least made y'all smile. Hang tough my friends, we are all in this together. We're pioneers and made of study stock.

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Until later,
Happy Trails

Nan O'Berry

1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

Great blog, Nan! I knew the pioneers made their own soap, but had no clue the ingredients and what the final product was like. Thank you so much for sharing.