Thursday 25 February 2016

Random Reading

I read old books on housewifery.  The house doesn't get any cleaner but I know what ought to be done with laundry in the eighteenth century.  The more I read, the more grateful I am for the automatic washing machine.  Actually I have a book about how to do laundry that I think is from around 1910.  It claims that the washing machines around when it was published are unlikely to be improved on.  It just goes to show.

I was considering the raggedy blanket I have pinned but not sewn.  It is layers of old, soft cotton with raggedy edges.  In other words, it is potentially very flammable.  Neither of us smoke, and we are very clear about keeping candles away from fabric, but accidents happen and I was a little worried.  You can buy flame retardant spray on eBay, but I was worried what would be in it.

I remembered somewhere a Victorian tip about soaking clothes in Alum to make them less flammable - a serious concern with long skirts and open fires.  I had a quick look on Wiki and apparently, yes, it could be used as something that helps cloth resist fire.  I wondered if it would be safe to have as something next to the skin.  Not only can alum be used to make fabric less likely to burn fiercely (it does not perform miracles), but it has been used for centuries to fix dye into cloth that would be worn next to the skin.  In itself this is not a recommendation.  After all, arsenic was used to colour wallpaper relatively recently.  However not only has alum a long history of being used medically - including in Ancient Egypt - but it is currently used in some mainstream western medicines.

Okay, so it's probably safe but can I get hold of it?  I looked on eBay.  I can buy it as powder, as a stick for using as a deodorant or perhaps a block sold to close shaving cuts.  It's remarkably inexpensive.

If I ever get the dratted blanket sewn, I may well consider soaking it in alum solution after a wash.  Or I may not.  There hasn't been an incident involving a candle in our home for over twenty years.  And that was malevolent cat nearly setting herself on fire.  Alum is not helpful against feline stupidity.

Wittering on about alum has not been particularly productive, but I am on day two of a headache that makes me feel sick when I move so at least while I am considering alum I am at least not thinking about how much I want to throw up.  It's a win.


  1. Sorry to hear about your headache... migraine perhaps? Pink migraleve may help, it has an ingredient to help with the nausea.
    Also, keep hydrated.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  2. So sorry to hear you have a bad headache. Hope it will go away and you'll feel better, soon.