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Smelling Salts for Fainting

Mankind has been using smelling salts to overcome fainting for many centuries - as a Roman, as an alchemist and even as a member of the police of the Victorian Britain. To know more about these salts and its uses go through this iBuzzle article.
Smelling salts were a great prop for the movies in the past. You can always expect a lady to faint, when the pitch of the scene changes to emotional or when a scene gears up to deliver a shocking news. And there goes a cry of, "Smelling salts, does anyone have them for the lady?" Such incidents come as no surprise to us. Try imagining Arnold Schwarzenegger needing it for a fainting act..., I mean, in a movie scene. Well, you are out of luck, it is always a lady who faints!

Salts of Hartshorn Formula
The chemical formula of the ammonium carbonate, which is an active ingredient of these salts, is ((NH4)2CO3 H2O). It releases ammonia gas when mixed with the water or perfumes.

What Are Salts of Hartshorn?
Smelling salt, which is also known as sal volatile and salts of hartshorn, is a combination of ammonium carbonate and perfume. Ammonium carbonate acts as the base for these salts. It looks like plain salt, and is white in color. One common query that is most encountered is, "Does it work?", and the other is "How to use it?" The answer to the first question is, "Yes", it does work.

How to Revive a Fainted Lady
It is known that the chemical reaction of ammonium carbonate salt, when it is mixed with the water or the perfume, produces fumes. When its container is held under the nose, these fumes, which are strong enough to irritate the mucous membrane lining the inside of the nose, throat and lungs, revives someone from a faint. The body responds to the irritation caused, by increasing the rate of breathing which in turn increases the oxygen level in the blood. This works on the brain of the fainted person, making him more alert and ultimately, revives him, Oops, sorry!, her.

An overdose has never been reported so far, however one should be aware of its side effects. Its dangers may come along while disposing it. It is harmful to fish in waters polluted with these salts. If you have accumulated large quantity of these salts, it is good idea to store them in airy place to let the fumes escape. It is not a good idea to let them build in a closed space as accumulation of ammonia gas can create respiratory and other disorders.

Salts of Hartshorn Recipe
The following is a recipe to make these salts:
  • You start by making a mixture of Epsom salts - 1 cup and sea salt - 1/4 cup. It will be useful to use a big container to mix these things.
  • Next step involves adding 6 to 8 drops of essential oils to the above mixture. The number of drops added influences, how strong the scent of the mixture will be.
  • Adding 2 drops of peppermint or lemongrass or eucalyptus oil will give the mixture a sinus clearing scent. Stir the mixture thoroughly.
  • Store the finished product in an airtight container for later use.
  • If you want to use it as smelling salts, sew a small pouch out of porous cloth material such as fine lace.
  • Add the salts to the pouch and sew it shut.
  • Ammonia gas, if inhaled in high concentration, can damage the lungs severely. However, it is not the case with these salts used for fainting.
  • It is advisable not to use these salt to revive children below 3 months of age.
Reviving someone who has fainted isn't the only use these salts are put to. It is also used to revive punched out, or knocked out boxers.
By Shrinivas Kanade
Last Updated: 10/5/2011
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