There was no actual snake oil in old timey snake oil (except when there was, of course). Rather, most of the lotions and potions sold by early 20th century miracle medicine salesmen actually contained mercury and lead. Now, don't you feel better? University of Detroit Mercy chemists recently analyzed the ingredients of several dozen patent medicine samples from the Henry Ford Museum's collection. From Smithsonian:
Their findings, which they presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Atlanta, were that many of the pills, powders and ointments tested had beneficial ingredients like calcium and zinc—but that others had toxins such as lead, mercury and arsenic.
Back in the day, this was a very trial-and-error kind of field,” (chemist Mark) Benvenuto said in an interview. “The stuff that we think of as dangerous now, though it was dangerous, was as cutting-edge as they had at the time.”
"What’s in Century-Old ‘Snake Oil’ Medicines? Mercury and Lead
Yup. He really did.
In the NASA image above, today’s total solar eclipse is seen above Madras, Oregon. Photo by Aubrey Gemignani for NASA. Below, our moon blocks out the sun during the solar eclipse in Depoe Bay, Oregon.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2, the first of the two spacecraft that carried the Golden Record on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Science journalist Timothy Ferris produced this enchanting phonograph record that tells a story of our planet expressed in […]
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]
Guaranteeing your privacy online goes way beyond checking the “Do Not Track” option in your browser’s settings. To ensure that your internet activity is totally hidden from Internet Service Providers, advertisers, and other prying eyes, take a look at Windscribe’s VPN protection. It usually costs $7.50 per month, but you can get a 3-year subscription […]