Carbolic soap

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Bar of carbolic soap

Carbolic soap is a strong antiseptic soap containing carbolic acid and/or cresylic acid, both of which are (phenols) derived from either coal tar or petroleum sources.[1][2]

In 1834, German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered a phenol, now known as carbolic acid, which he derived in an impure form from coal tar.

In August 1865, Dr. Joseph Lister, 1st Baron Lister applied a piece of lint dipped in carbolic acid solution onto the wound of an eleven-year-old boy at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, who had sustained a compound fracture after a cart wheel had passed over his leg. After four days, he renewed the pad and discovered that no infection had developed, and after a total of six weeks he was amazed to discover that the boy's bones had fused back together, without the danger of suppuration.[3][4]

In 1894, William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme introduced the first mass-produced carbolic soap to the market, Lifebuoy.[5]

One of the distinctive features of this soap is its deep pink to red color, which is caused by the carbolic acid. Carbolic acid is actually used in a wide range of industrial and consumer product applications and can be a skin irritant. Some people who use a great deal of carbolic soap might find that their skin becomes irritated as a result of prolonged contact. This is one of the reasons carbolic soap has been displaced in hospitals by more gentle disinfectant skin cleansers.

By killing bacteria, it also acts as a mild deodorant when used as a body soap. It is still distributed to disaster victims for routine hygiene by the Red Cross and other relief organizations.[6] Remembered by generations of people from the 1920s-1970s era as the household soap of their childhood, it is still sought after by some for its nostalgic strong, tar-like scent.

In Great Britain it was used in state schools at least up until the 1970s; in Scottish state schools its use continued at least until the late 1980s.[citation needed]

In the 1960s school teachers in the United Kingdom were allowed to use corporal punishment in the classroom, so along with the cane, a child who cursed in class might[weasel words] be made to wash out their mouths with carbolic soap.[citation needed]

Carbolic soap is still used regularly in the Caribbean region, especially Jamaica, where it can be found in most drugstores and supermarkets.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ W. H. Simmons and H. A. Appleton, The Handbook of Soap Manufacture, Echo Library, 2007, p. 104.
  2. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/142724/cresylic-acid
  3. ^ Lister, Joseph (21 September 1867). "ON THE ANTISEPTIC PRINCIPLE IN THE PRACTICE OF SURGERY". The Lancet 90 (2299): 353–356. 
  4. ^ Lister, Joseph (1 January 1870). "ON THE EFFECTS OF THE ANTISEPTIC SYSTEM OF TREATMENT UPON THE SALUBRITY OF A SURGICAL HOSPITAL". The Lancet 95 (2418): 2–4. 
  5. ^ [1] A History of Health, lifebuoy.com
  6. ^ "ReliefWeb ť Document ť West Africa Appeal No. 01.02/2001 Programme Update No. 2". Reliefweb.int. Retrieved 2010-08-19.