7. Phosphorus Was Accidentally Discovered in Urine
Henning Brandt, a physician from Hamburg, mixed charcoal, sand, and stale urine to form a compound that produces gold from metal. However, the product formed a glowing light when placed in the dark, and he named it cold fire, which was then called phosphorus, which means “light-bringer” in Latin.
Later, this same product was named phosphorus. Later, Robert Boyle, an English chemist, modified this process and used an advanced method to produce solid phosphorus using urine. These studies have been repeated for years into the 17th century, with other chemists including animal excrements to yield the glowing phosphorus.
6. Penicillin Doses Were First Made from Urine
In 1942, the production of penicillin was not yet legal in the US, and the process of making this essential antibiotic was still very slow.
This problem was solved by Anne Miller, who was suffering from septicemia, a severe infection in the bloodstream. Miller’s urine was used to extract penicillin since between 40 and 99% of this antibiotic is excreted in its natural form in urine.
As a result, Miller recovered from her disease, and doctors started to harvest urine from patients. This was an ongoing procedure until penicillin started to be produced industrially for medicinal use.
5. People Used Urine to Make Gunpower
About 75% of gunpowder consists of potassium nitrate, known as saltpeter. 10% is made up of sulfur, while the remaining 15% comprises charcoal.
Saltpeter was initially imported from countries such as India or prepared locally using stale urine. The constant wars in Europe made the demand for urine very high in the 17th century.
Most urine was extracted from church floors and stables. In one instance after the American Civil War in 1865, women were asked to preserve their chamber lies to replenish rebel ammunition.