Household hints… dealing with pests, insects and flies… and nervous disability

I often look at old newspapers, particularly household recipes; I was looking through some one hundred and fifty year old editions of Australian newspapers. I guess many of the readers lived in places were common household preparations weren’t available, and ordinary things you might need had to be home-made. I was looking at an article which had ‘recipes’ for cheap puddings (one was quarter pounds each of  currants,  raisins,  flour, ground rice,  sugar,  suet, and a small teacup of warm milk and bicarbonate of soda, all to be well mixed, the other was a six-cup pudding of preserve,  sugar,  flour,  suet,  bread crumbs,  raisins, and the usual bicarbonate of soda) and then there were the helpful hints.  How to remove ink stains from canvas – hydrochloric acid, how to make tracing paper – Canada balsam, and  spirits of turpentine, and then a remedy for ‘nervous disability’. If you are disabled by nerves you need sulphate of quinine, homeopathic preparation No. 1… and the amount you need is as much as will cover a fourpenny-piece, not piled up… very precise!

I found another list of helpful hints – how to make pastry (very similar to how I make it!) and then how to keep insects from birds (I wonder if they mean chickens or pet birds?) which involves scalding the cage… a good idea I guess. Then came a problem I’m not sure many of us have these days, but how disgusting if you do – how to clean a cellar of flies… yuk!!! The answer is brimstone, two or three pounds of brimstone which we know as sulphur. If you should suffer a plague of flies in your cellar, you need to make it airtight and then burn the brimstone – wow, I bet that smells ghastly. You must keep the cellar closed for twenty-four hours and then open everything to ventilate it. At the end of the instructions is a helpful tip – must be burned in centre of room, and not on wooden floor.

After all the brimstone you may very well have a sore throat and the writer of the article helpfully adds a remedy:- a remedy for dryness of throat will be found in a small piece of muriate of ammonia, about ten or fifteen grains every two hours. Use the best quality, and allow it to dissolve slowly in the mouth…

And muriate of ammonia?

Muriate of ammonia – sal ammoniac , ammonium chloride, NH4Cl, a white crystalline volatile substance having a sharp salty taste, obtained from gas works, from nitrogenous matter, etc….

I think I will just take lemon and honey in warm water, thank you!


  1. David Lewis

    I should have been a Buddhist because I won’t even step on an ant even though it makes holes in my driveway. All these little creatures have been put here for a purpose!

    Liked by 1 person

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