Long Live King Arsenic

Arsenic trioxide by crystalclassics.co.uk

Ancient Times

We have known where to find the stuff for a long time. How long is hard to say. Back in the Bronze Age, copper was mined in England, Ireland, and Cyprus, among other places, and copper-arsenic alloys made better tools and bronze.

Gerber? Albertus Magnus? Will The Isolator of Arsenic Please Stand Up?

However, just because you know what a product is and what it does, doesn’t mean you know what it is made of. And that is where I found a snarl.

What Did People Want All That Arsenic For?

The ancients found plenty of uses for it. Texts from China recommended it for removing lice. Hippocrates recommended realgar as an escharotic (which is stuff that burns your skin off.)

But the Poison!

I’m getting there.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

When modern chemistry took off, it found a number of safer substitutes for the arsenical compounds your average housewife was using. You could buy better rat poisons, less toxic paints, and more effective skin bleaches. This means that the arsenic in your house is not in a formula you can stir into someone’s coffee.

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Vivian Yongewa

Vivian Yongewa

Writes for content farms and fun. Has an AU historical mystery series on Kindle.