Urine as a Beauty Product? History of Human Urine


/ published 1 year ago

Urine as a Beauty Product? History of Human Urine

The English word urine refers to the liquid waste product produced by the kidneys. But the word comes from the Latin word “urina”. The substance is considered useless today, but that wasn’t always the case

Have you heard the saying “one person’s waste is another’s treasure”? Well, that probably applied thousands of years ago. Urine is a treasure-trove of scientific potential. If you have seen Beer Grills, you know that he makes water out of urine.
But let’s forget modern scientists for a moment, and focus on the history of urine. Did you know that Romans used it as a beauty product?

The English word urine refers to the liquid waste product produced by the kidneys. But the word comes from the Latin word “urina”. The substance is considered useless today, but that wasn’t always the case.
The Romans popularized the use of this product so much to the point that Emperor Nero imposed a “urine tax” on Romans during the 1st century AD. Here are some of the surprisingly inventive uses of urine.
Due to its unique chemical composition, urine made for excellent laundry detergent and it was the same logic applied to whitening teeth. Fun fact: urine was widely used in dental hygiene products up until the 18th century.

Whitening teeth

This is one of the most common and popular urine myths and legends. Back in the days, Romans used urine as a whitening agent. Because urine decomposes into ammonia, it is a great cleaning product. Ammonia takes out stains easily.

Romans applies this logic to whitening teeth. Roman author Catullus attest to people using both human and animal urine as a mouth rinse.

Invisible ink

Urine found its usage not only for cleaning products, but also in espionage. The inventive pioneers found out that urine can be used as invisible ink to write secret missives between the text of official documents.
These messages were only visible when heated. That made them a brilliant espionage tool. This is where the “read between the lines” saying comes from.

Cleaning togas

Roman made their togas bright and colorful thanks to urine. The ammonia in urine could clean everything, and that applied to togas.
The first stage involved men jumping up and down on the togas in large vats with urine inside. It was like a living washing machine agitators.

The second stage included dirt or ash. But both stages helped dissolve grease accumulating on the toga.


Romans frequently used urine, dog feces, and sometimes human feces in tanning. And not for sunning outside, but for making leather.
They employed this technique for soaking things in urine. A long soak would help remove hair from the pelt, and then feces were ground into it. Sometimes this process took hours.
But the enzymes in feces and cleansing powers of urine softened the hide, making it more supple.

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