Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Memory of Remedies

This morning as I applied Corn Husker’s Lotion to my wrinkly old face, it brought back memories from a LONG time ago. My mother had a pump and bottle contraption attached to the doorway frame between the kitchen and dining room. It was used as often as the old can opener that was attached to the same board. The Corn Husker’s Lotion has the same texture and aroma as the contents of that pump bottle. Everyone in the home used this lotion frequently. Winter chapped cheeks, sunburned shoulders, scraped knees, and dishwasher’s hands benefitted by its regular utilization. I remember it was called Italian Balm. It smelled nice and, if you licked it, it was sweet. (Yes, I tasted it back then.) Off to the computer for some research I went. 

Ingredients list for Campana’s Italian Balm Cosmetic in Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products by Marion N. Gleason, 1957, published by Williams and Wilkins 

Essential oils 
*Benzoic Acid 
*Gum Tragacanth 

FYI:  Every American soldier carried a bottle of Italian Balm to treat and to prevent burns. 

Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an
aromatic organic compound with the molecular formula C₆H₅OH. It is a white crystalline solid that is volatile. The molecule consists of a phenyl group bonded to a hydroxyl group.
Soluble in water
Drug class: Melanin Synthesis Inhibitor

*Benzoic acid
Benzoic acid, is a colorless crystalline solid and a simple aromatic carboxylic acid. CHO₂. The name is derived from gum benzoin, which was for a long time its only known source.

Drug Class: Nitrogen Binding Agent

*Gum Tragacanth
Gum tragacanth is a viscous, odorless, tasteless, water-soluble mixture of polysaccharides obtained from sap which is drained from the root of the plant and dried. As a mucilage or paste, it has been used as a topical treatment for burns. It is used in pharmaceuticals and foods as an emulsifier, thickener, stabilizer, and texturant additive.

Sorbitol, also known as glucitol, is a sugar alcohol
derived from fruits, corn, and seaweed. It has a sweet taste which the human body metabolizes slowly. It can be obtained by reduction of glucose, changing the aldehyde group to a hydroxyl group.
Then the memory of Italian Balm led to a memory of using a yellow vaseline that also smelled nice (to me). My grandmother smeared it on me when we sat on her front porch in the evening to keep away bugs. Yes, we used citronella sometimes, but I always preferred the vaseline. It was also a lip balm. It smelled so good!  Back to researching again. I love the internet for this very reason. My curiosity is often satisfied.

Carbolated Vaseline:
Chesebrough Manufacturing Company
 “This perfect antiseptic dressing is the safest way of utilizing the cleansing and healing values of Carbolic Acid, with the soothing comfort of Vaseline.”
Only Carbolated Vaseline was still on the market when Chesebrough joined with Pond’s in 1955 and it lasted another twenty years or so before it too was discontinued.

No, I haven’t forgotten another often-applied salve. My use of Resinol is a family tradition as well. My grandmother, mother and I have all used it for multiple kinds of irritations and I still do today. It works, I swear by it. It is still being manufactured. Yea!!


  1. some of those products just stick with you, don't they? :)

  2. Don't forget utter balm it's great stuff too

  3. I love the internet for those same reasons. Dry skin is just one other annoyance about winter. My hands could be in better shape.

  4. Oh! What about bag balm? No not for that.

  5. My goodness...such a great and very informative post this one is.

    And I just may have to go out to Google and see if I can find one of those 'antique' balm containers with the Victorian woman. It's beautiful if not just for the can. Wow.