Uses of Ammonia

March 17th, 2018

All housekeepers should keep a bottle of liquid ammonia, as it is the most powerful and useful agent for cleaning silks, stuffs and hats, in fact cleans everything it touches. A few drops of ammonia in water will take off grease from dishes, pans, etc., and does not injure the hands as much as the use of soda and strong chemical soaps. A spoonful in a quart of warm water for cleaning paint makes it look like new, and so with everything that needs cleaning.

Spots on towels and hosiery will disappear with little trouble if a little ammonia is put into enough water to soak the articles, and they are left in it an hour or two before washing; and if a cupful is put into the water in which clothes are soaked the night before washing, the ease with which the articles can be washed, and their great whiteness and clearness when dried, will be very gratifying. Remembering the small sum paid for three quarts of ammonia of common strength, one can easily see that no bleaching preparation can be more cheaply obtained.

No articles in kitchen use are so likely to be neglected and abused as the dish-cloth and dish-towels; and in washing these, ammonia, if properly used, is a greater comfort than anywhere else. Put a teaspoonful into the water in which these cloths are, or should be, washed everyday; rub soap on the towels. Put them in the water; let them stand half an hour or so; then rub them out thoroughly, rinse faithfully, and dry outdoors in clear air and sun, and dish-cloths and towels need never look gray and dingy–a perpetual discomfort to all housekeepers.

A dark carpet often looks dusty soon after it has been swept, and you know it does not need sweeping again; so wet a cloth or a sponge, wring it almost dry, and wipe off the dust. A few drops of ammonia in the water will brighten the colors.

For cleaning hair-brushes it is excellent; put a tablespoonful into the water, having it only tepid, and dip up and down until clean; then dry with the brushes down and they will be like new ones.

When employed in washing anything that is not especially soiled, use the waste water afterward for the house plants that are taken down from their usual position and immersed in the tub of water. Ammonia is a fertilizer, and helps to keep healthy the plants it nourishes. In every way, in fact, ammonia is the housekeeper’s friend.

Ammonia is not only useful for cleaning, but as a household medicine. Half a teaspoonful taken in half a tumbler of water is far better for faintness than alcoholic stimulants. In the Temperance Hospital in London, it is used with the best results. It was used freely by Lieutenant Greely’s Arctic party for keeping up circulation. It is a relief in nervousness, headache and heart disturbances.

Source: The White House Cookbook, F.L. Gillette

Phalon’s Instantaneous Hair Dye

March 1st, 2018

To one ounce of crystallized nitrate of silver, dissolved in one ounce of concentrated aqua ammonia, add one ounce of gum arabic and six ounces of soft water. Keep in the dark. Remember to remove all grease from the hair before applying the dye.

There is danger in some of the patent hair dyes, and hence the Scientific American offers what is known as the walnut hair dye. The simplest form is the expressed juice of the bark or shell of green walnuts. To preserve the juice a little alcohol is commonly added to it with a few bruised cloves, and the whole digested together, with occasional agitation, for a week or fortnight, when the clear portion is decanted, and, if necessary, filtered. Sometimes a little common salt is added with the same intention. It should be kept in a cool place. The most convenient way of application is by means of a sponge.

Source: The White House Cookbook, F.L. Gillette

How to Keep Brushes Clean

November 29th, 2017

The best way in which to clean hair-brushes is with spirits of ammonia, as its effect is immediate. No rubbing is required, and cold water can be used just as successfully as warm. Take a tablespoonful of ammonia to a quart of water, dip the hair part of the brush without wetting the ivory, and in a moment the grease is removed; then rinse in cold water, shake well, and dry in the air, but not in the sun. Soda and soap soften the bristles and invariably turn the ivory yellow.

Source: The White House Cookbook, F.L. Gillette

Good Hard Soap

September 2nd, 2017

Five pounds of grease, one quart and one cup of cold water, one can of potash, one heaping tablespoonful of borax, two tablespoonfuls of ammonia. Dissolve the potash in the water, then add the borax and ammonia and stir in the lukewarm grease slowly and continue to stir until it becomes as thick as thick honey; then pour into a pan to harden. When firm cut into cakes. Grease that is no longer fit to fry in is used for this soap. Strain it carefully that no particles of food are left in it. It makes no difference how brown the grease is, the soap will become white and float in water. It should be kept a month before using.

Source: The Golden Age Cook Book, H. L. Dwight

French Polish

June 6th, 2017

Take a quarter of an ounce of gum sandarac and a quarter of an ounce of gum mastic; pick the dirt and black lumps out very carefully, and pound them in a mortar quite fine; put them into a bottle, and add to them a quartern (old measure) of strong spirit of wine; cork it down and put it in a warm place; shake it frequently till the gum is entirely dissolved, which will be in about twenty-four hours.

Before using it, be careful to ascertain that no grease is on the furniture, as grease would prevent its receiving the polish. If the furniture has been previously cleaned with bees’-wax or oil, it must be got off by scraping, which is the best way, but difficult to those who do not perfectly understand it, because if you are not very careful, you may scratch the surface, and create more expense than a workman would charge to do it properly at first. Or it may be done by scouring well with sand and water, and afterward rubbed quite smooth with fine glass paper, being careful to do it with the grain of the wood. To apply the polish, you must have a piece of list or cloth twisted, and tied round quite tight, and left even at one end, which should be covered with a piece of fine linen cloth; then pour a little of the polish on the furniture, and rub it well all over till it is worked into the grain of the wood, and begins to look quite smooth; then take a soft fine cloth, or what is better, an old silk handkerchief, and keep rubbing lightly until the polish is complete, which will take two or three hours. It will greatly help the polish if it is done near a fire.

If it does not look so smooth and clear as it should, a little sweet oil rubbed lightly over, and cleaned off directly, will greatly heighten it. If any part of the furniture has carving about it, where it will be impossible to polish, it must be done with mastic varnish, and a camel’s hair brush, after the rest is finished.

When the polish begins to look dull, it may be recovered with a little spirit of wine.

Source: The Cook’s Oracle and Housekeeper’s Manual, W.M. Kitchener

To Wash Greasy Tin and Iron

March 2nd, 2017

Pour a few drops of ammonia into every greasy roasting-pan, first half-filling with warm water. A bottle of ammonia should always stand near the sink for such uses. Never allow dirty pots or pans to stand and dry; for it doubles the labor of washing. Pour in water, and use ammonia, and the work is half done.

Source: The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking, H. Campbell

Soft Soap

February 28th, 2017

All mutton and ham fat should be melted and strained into a large stone pot. The practice of throwing lumps of fat into a pot, and waiting till there are several pounds before trying them out, is a disgusting one, as often such a receptacle is alive with maggots. Try out the fat, and strain as carefully as you would lard or beef drippings, and it is then always ready for use. If concentrated lye or potash, which comes in little tins, is used, directions will be found on the tins. Otherwise allow a pound of stone potash to every pound of grease. Twelve pounds of each will make a barrel of soft soap.

Crack the potash in small pieces. Put in a large kettle with two gallons of water, and boil till dissolved. Then add the grease, and, when melted, pour all into a tight barrel. Fill it up with boiling water, and for a week, stir daily for five or ten minutes. It will gradually become like jelly.

Source: The Easiest Way in Housekeeping and Cooking, H. Campbell

To Cleanse Silks, Woolens, and Cottons

February 26th, 2017

Grate raw potatoes to a fine pulp in clean water, and pass the liquid matter through a coarse sieve into another vessel of water ; let the mixture stand still till the fine white particles of the potatoes settle to the bottom; then pour off the liquor from the sediment, and preserve it for use. The article to be cleaned should be laid upon a cloth on a table ; dip a clean sponge into the liquor, and apply it to the article to be cleaned, till the dirt is perfectly separated, then rinse it in clean water several times. Two middle size potatoes will be sufficient for a pint of water. Should there be any grease spots on the articles, they should be previously extracted.

Source: Valuable Receipts, J.M. Prescott

Hair Dye

January 9th, 2017

Nitric acid, one part ; nitrate of silver, ten parts ; sap green, nine parts ; powdered gum arabic, two parts ; water, three hundred parts ; essence musii, one or two drops to each bottle. Mix. In all cases, first free the hair from grease, by soap and water. All hair dyes must be applied by means of moistening a comb with them, and passing it through the hair, observing not to touch the skin with the dye.

Source: Valuable Receipts, J.M. Prescott

To Remove Grease Spots

December 28th, 2016

Take the yolk of an egg, entirely free from the white, and with a soft brush apply it on the spot until the grease appears removed or dissolved. Wash off the egg with moderately warm water, and then rinse off the whole with clean cold water.

Another. Lay a quantity of Magnesia or French chalk on the grease spot, and apply to it a hot flatiron: repeat till it is all out.

Source: Valuable Receipts, J.M. Prescott