Thursday, June 19, 2014

Medieval uses of Urine

Nowadays westerners waste gallons of water flushing away of one of the most useful chemicals of the Middle Ages.

Urine.

Urine comprises approximately 95% water, 2.5% urea (the ammonium salt of cyanic acid), and 2.5% other substances—metabolic wastes, excess sugar, minerals, and medications excreted either metabolized or unaltered. With an average NPK ratio of 11-1-2, urine also contains calcium, chloride, sodium, magnesium, sulfates, and phosphates.

A healthy individual produces sterile urine, though subsequent bacterial action releases alkaline ammonia, producing a useful chemical with a pungent odor.

Chief medieval uses of Urine:

Leather – hair removal, tanning, softening
Dyeing – mordant
Fulling and laundry – chamber lye cleaning, bleaching
Gunpowder – KNO3 (potassium nitrate, saltpetre) used as oxidizer in combustion process
Agriculture – source of nitrate fertilizer

Urine - once useful, now "waste":



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