Medieval uses of Urine

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


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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