Mar 2, 2015

Victorian Vanities- Charcoal Stick Dentifrice Tutorial

Continuing the Victorian Vanities series, here's another dental product for you.  

How about a stick dentifrice?  

This is an authentic 1893 recipe taken from The Era Formulary 5000 Formulas for Druggist. You can find this book free to read online at google books.  If you want to look it up, it's formula 1342.

Note:  I made this for my presentation on a whim because it seemed unique, and had nice instructions for how the finished product should be shaped.  I have never seen a "stick dentifrice" recipe before this one, and have no idea how this was used.  If you have any information on stick dentifrices especially with documentation, please leave me a message in the comment section below.

Charcoal Stick Dentifrice

Precipitated chalk                    11 ounces troy.
Powdered castille soap              5 ounces troy.
Powdered willow charcoal      20 grains.
Oil of wintergreen                   80 minims.
Dilute glycerine                           as needed
(1 glycerine to 5 of water)

Make into a stiff pill mass; roll and cut in cylinders 4 inches long.

Now this is where things get tricky.

  When you add the glycerin, add the wintergreen oil first, then add less glycerine than you think you will need and mix, mix, mix.  If you think you are almost there and are tempted to add more glycerin to pull it together, don't do it.  Instead, work the mix with your hands for a minute or two and see what happens.  This stuff is "funny" because once you get a stiff paste, the more you mix, knead, or roll it, the "wetter" it seams to get.   

When I first attempted to roll this stuff out, it didn't stick to my hands and was a nice stiff dough.  But as I worked it, it became goopy and stuck to my hands in a slippery mess.  

My solution:  use a piping bag to form a long log, let it dry an hour or so to firm up, then cut to length.  

After cutting, I gently rolled the sticks to straighten them.  Then I let them set for a day or so to dry, turning them a few times a day to ensure they dried evenly.

Once dry, I wrapped the sticks in a layer of waxed paper, then added a paper sleeve and affixed a label.  

To help me remember the ingredients, I add an ingredients list, something you would not have seen originally.  I have other "cheats" I add to the label as well.  To remember what book the recipe came from, and what year it was published, I often add an line for the "pharmacist", which is the book's author or editor if there is no author, and an established date, which tells me the copyrite date.  

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