Monday, October 11, 2010

True Facts Tuesday -- Victorian Toothpowder

Even though toothpowder was available commercially, many frugal Victorians chose to make their own. The information I     found covered about 35 years, but it doesn't appear the recipes became any more appealing.

In 1832 (More Regency than Victorian, IMO), Mrs. Lydia Child wrote in "The American Frugal Housewife": Honey mixed with pulverized charcoal is said to be excellent to cleanse the teeth and make them very white.

In 1858 these samples were offered in "Enquire Within Upon Everything" (Houlston & Wright, London) :
1 pound prepared chalk, 1 or 2 drams camphor. (I found a definition that stated a dram was an 1/8 of an ounce)

8 drams coral, 8 drams cuttle fish-bone, 8 drams dragon's blood, 8 drams orris root, 8 drams rose pink, 4 drams burnt alum, 4 drams red sanders, 1/2 dram cloves, cinnamon, vanilla, and rosewood - all finely ground.

1 pound powdered cuttlefish, 2 ounces powdered myrrh.

In the 1864 "Treastis on Pharmacy" the formula for toothpowder was as follows: powdered chalk, powdered myrrh, orris root, and red chalk.

By 1889 Barkham Burroughs' "Encyclopedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information" offered this: 2 parts of prepared chalk, 1 of Peruvian bark and 1 of hard soap, all finely powdered.

Hmmmmm. Sounds tasty. But I'll think I'll stick to my Crest. How about you?
I hope this is helpful in your writing :)


  1. LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL. Great post!

  2. LOL. Jennifer. I suppose when you wipe charcoal off your teeth, what lies underneath is bound to look white ;)