Boro-glycerine is a transparent yellow, tasteless, compound of boric acid and glycerine. It is a powerful antiseptic and is used primarily in oral and dental applications. Historically, it was also used in the preservation of food.
At a meeting of the Society of Arts, on March 29, 1882, Professor Barff delivered a lecture, in which he announced his discovery of boro-glycerine. Barff had been attempting to find a way in which boracic acid, a known antiseptic, could be used to preserve meats, at a time when beef prices were considered high. He hoped to find a suitable alternative to freezing, which would allow cheap imports to be obtained from around the world.
As early as 1883, scientific reports recommended boro-glycerine as a safe, suitable preservative for a range of foods, including meat, oysters, milk, and butter. Various experiments, including shipping meats dipped in a boro-glycerine solution on long sea voyages, proved Barff's technique.
The discovery of a safe means to apply boric acid drew much attention within the medical profession, and by 1835 various experiments, relying on the antiseptic properties of boro-glycerine, were being carried out. Ailments ranged from psoriasis, and other scaly conditions of the skin to chilblains, and the search for a treatment of cancer of the uterus.
Oral and dental
Boro-glycerine proved most effective as an oral and dental antiseptic. In particular, it is effective in the treatment of mouth ulcers, stomatitis and glossitis. It is also frequently used as a wash for the care of the mouth in unconscious patients.
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