The United States civil war was a difficult time for our country and people back then didn’t have the luxuries we enjoy today. Even tough times were harsh and they couldn’t run to the corner market to get simple things such as cough syrup, they had the knowledge to make their own. Some of their household tips deserve to be resurrected and passed on to the new generations.
We are part of a generation that has it easy and most of us don’t know what it means to struggle to obtain even the most basic items that we take for granted. Soap, toothpaste, sodas, bread and all the other items we consume on a daily basis may not seem critical for us, but back then, these items were of great value and people had to struggle to make them. Those who didn’t have the means to procure such items were forced to improvise and make their own or they had to find good substitutes.
Civil war household tips:
Making a deodorizer for the household – on a shovel of hot coals, sprinkle fresh ground coffee or sugar. Vinegar boiled with myrrh can be sprinkled on the floor and furniture of a sick room will make an excellent deodorizer.
To prevent mold in the pantry – take a small quantity of carbolic acid added o paste, mucilage and ink to prevent mold. An ounce of acid to a gallon of whitewash will keep pantries and cellars from developing mold.
To remove spots on furniture and all kinds of fabrics – to remove spots without injuring the color, mix four ounces of aqua ammonia, one ounce of glycerin, one ounce of castile soap and one of spirits of wine. Dissolve the soap in two quarts of soft water and add the other ingredients. Apply with a soft sponge and rub out.
To remove the odor of onion from saucepans – put wood-ashes or sal soda, potash or lye in the pan and fill with water. Let it stand on the stove until it boils then was in hot suds and rinse well.
To keep milk sweet – put a spoonful of grated horse-radish into a panful and it will keep it sweet for days.
To remove rust from knives or steel implements – rub the items with kerosene oil, leaving them covered with it a day or two. After that, make sure to rub them hard and well with a finely powdered unslaked lime.
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To make paint for wood or stone that resists moisture – melt twelve ounces of resin, mix it thoroughly with six gallons of fish oil and one pound of melted sulphur. Rub up some coloring substance like ochre with a little linseed oil, enough to give it the right color and thickness. Apply several coats of the hot composition on desired wood or stone surfaces.
To prevent oil from becoming rancid – drop a few drops of ether into the bottle containing it.
How to make plain milk toast – cut a thin slice from a loaf of stale bread, toast it quickly and sprinkle a little salt over it. Pour upon it three tablespoonful of boiling milk or cream and serve it.
To make tough meat tender – lay it a few minutes in a strong vinegar water.
To remove discoloration from bruises – apply a cloth wrung out in very hot water and renew frequently until the pain stops. Another method is to apply raw beefsteak.
To remove finger marks from furniture – for varnished furniture use sweet oil and kerosene for oiled furniture.
To clean iron sinks – rub the sink well with a cloth wet with kerosene oil.
How to make cup pudding – take one tablespoonful of flour, one egg, mix with cold milk and a pinch of salt to a batter. Boil the mixture for fifteen minutes in a buttered cup and then eat it with fruit or plain sugar.
To remove ink, fruit or wine stains – soak well in tomato juice; it also helps remove the stains from the hands.
To cure hiccough – the person should sit erect and inflate the lungs fully. Retain the breath, bend forward slowly until the chest meets the knees. Slowly arise again to erect position and slowly exhale the breath. Repeat the process until you get rid of the nasty hiccough.
To keep out mosquitoes – leave a bottle of pennyroyal oil uncorked in a room at night and not a single mosquito will be found there in the morning.
To prevent rust on flat-irons – use beeswax and salt to make your rusty flat-irons as smooth as the day you bought them. Get a lump of beeswax and tie it on a rag and once the irons are hot, rub them first with the wax rag, then scour with a cloth sprinkled with salt.
To prevent rust on knives – dip them in a strong solution of soda made from one part water to four of soda, wipe them dry, roll them in a flannel and keep them in a dry place.
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To soften boots and shoes – soak a woolen rag in kerosene and rub the boots and shoes which have been hardened by water. It will make them pliable as new.
To prevent mold on the top of glasses of jelly – lay a lump of paraffine on top of the hot jelly and let it melt and spread over it. No other covering is necessary.
To kill cockroaches – sprinkle hellebore on the floor at night. The cockroaches will be poisoned by it.
To remove iron rust – lemon juice and salt will remove iron rust. Cut a lemon in halves and apply the cut surface as it were soap.
To clean drain pipes – drain pipes and all other places that are sour or impure can be cleaned with lime-water or carbolic acid.
To harden lamp chimneys and glass-ware – fill a pot with cold water and add some common salt, immerse the article in it and boil the water well. Then allow it to cool slowly and your glass treated in this way will resist any sudden change of temperature.
To remove paint from windows – rub the glass well with hot sharp vinegar.
To clean stove pipes – to clean out a pipe-stove, put a piece of zinc on the hot coals.
For cleaning glass bottles – crush egg shells into small bits, put into the bottle then fill one-half full of strong soap-suds and shake thoroughly. Rinse in clean water and the bottles will look like new.
To purify cistern water – put charcoal in a bag and hung it in the water.
To prevent the odor of boiling ham – throw red pepper pods or a few bits of charcoal into the pan they are cooking in.
How to make cough syrup – mix four ounces of syrup of squills, with four ounces of syrup of tolu, camphorated tincture of opium four ounces and tincture of bloodroot one ounce. Recommended dose for an adult is one teaspoonful repeated every two to four hours.
To cure a wasp or bee sting – bind common baking soda with water or mix garden earth with water to about the consistency of mud and apply on the stung area.
To beat the white of eggs quickly – add a pinch of salt as it cools, and cold eggs froth rapidly.
How to make tapioca jelly – soak a cupful of tapioca in a quart of cold water after washing it thoroughly two or three times. Let it soak for up to four hours, simmer it in a stewpan until it becomes quite clear and stir often. Add the juice of a lemon (wine can be used as substitute) and a little of the grated peel, and a pinch of salt. Sweeten to taste.
To cure stomach cramps – take a teaspoonful of ginger ale or tincture of ginger in a half glass of water in which a half teaspoonful of soda has been dissolved.
To fix cement cracks in floor – soak newspapers in a past made of half a pound of flour, three quarts of water and half a pound of alum mixed and boiled. The mixture will be tick as putty and you have to force it into the crevice using a case knife. It will harden and permanently fill the cracks in floors.
To make tracing paper – dissolve a ball of white beeswax on inch in diameter in half a pint of turpentine. Saturate the paper in this bath and let it dry two or three days before using it.
The information presented in this article was gathered after an extensive research. Since these household tips were listed in old books or documents, the information here is to be used at the reader’s own discretion and choice. The author does not vouch in any way for the accuracy or safety of these household tips.
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