Toothpaste: The Magic Elixir
May 22 marks the birthday of the toothpaste tube, and while this may not seem like such a milestone at first glance, life without it would certainly be different.
Before there was a handy tube, toothpaste was actually tooth powder, often made from items such brick dust and crushed china. Prior to that, earliest efforts to cleanse one’s mouth may have taken the form of tooth sticks, or from 23 to 79 A.D. drinking goats’ milk to sweeten the breath. According to Toothpaste World, ashes from burnt mouse heads, rabbits’ heads, wolf heads, ox heels and goats’ feet were seen as breath enhancers. In the early 19th century, glycerin was added to tooth powder turning it into an early incarnation of the now familiar paste.
Reportedly inspired during an 1892 trip to Paris by the collapsible metal tubes artists used for paint, the son of Dr. Washington Sheffield, a New London, Connecticut dentist, suggested his father use the packaging for his own brand of toothpaste: CrÃ¨me Dentifrice. According to sources, until that point toothpaste was sold in a porcelain jar into which each family member dipped his or her brush. Talk about a personal hygiene no-no! Four years later, Colgate began using tubes and the official toothpaste delivery system was born.
Tube or otherwise, in addition to oral hygiene and 1,000-watt smiles, toothpaste’s multi-purpose uses include its other shine properties when cleaning tarnish from silver items and most jewelry (especially diamonds).
It also provides relief from burns, itching, and insect bites (be sure to use paste and not gel and let dry).
Toothpaste helps clear up breakouts – dot and let dry – and whitens nails (use a nail brush and scrub).
Made of the same polymers as hair gel, toothpaste (use the gel form here) can be used in a pinch in its place, and savvy moms and dads use it to keep baby barrettes from slipping.
Remove water rings from furniture by rubbing in toothpaste with a damp cloth.
The fine abrasive in toothpaste (not gel) will shine chrome fixtures in bathroom and kitchen.
Sour milk smells in baby bottles are eradicated using toothpaste and a bottle scrubber, as are garlic, fish, onion and other seemingly impermeable odors on the hands.
Carpet stains can often be removed by applying toothpaste and scrubbing with a brush, and clothing stains are said to come out by applying toothpaste directly, rubbing, and then laundering, although whitening products can sometimes bleach the fabric.
Is a budding Brueghel branding your walls? Toothpaste on a damp cloth should remove crayon marks.
Beach tar stuck on feet? Non-gel toothpaste and a little elbow grease should get it off.
Coat bathroom mirrors and swim goggles with non-gel toothpaste and wipe off to prevent fogging.