The Unconscious Baker

One thing I forgot to mention is that ammonium carbonate is also a common smelling salt. For those of you who don’t know what smelling salts are, they’re the stuff that Moe used to revive Curly every time a tipped store shelf brought a long succession of jars, canned goods, bottled beer, cast iron skillets, ball peen hammers, railroad spikes, cannon balls, anvils and finally boat anchors down on his head.

Mostly though, they were used to revive people who’d fainted. They worked by irritating nasal membranes, which caused an inhalation reflex that usually brought the subject back to consciousness in a hurry.

They’re not around much anymore, in part because fainting is less common (for a variety of modern reasons), but mostly because people have realized they’re somewhat toxic, and while they do cause an unconscious person to inhale, the thing they’re inhaling is ammonia vapor, not oxygen. They are however commonplace in sports, especially hockey and football. You used to see them all the time in boxing up until about the late 80’s, the point at which officials realized that if a man has been beaten into unconsciousness in the ring, he’s probably better off lying down.

I bring it up because it never hurts to know the multiple uses of things that might be hanging around on your shelves. Heck, who knows the next time you might find yourself unconscious? In which case just head to the pantry and grab your jar of hartshorn. Or no…have someone else…tell them to…oh hell you get the idea.

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