The Oldest Known Recipe For A Toothpaste Possibly Comes From Ancient Egypt

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Toothpaste on Brush
Thegreenj [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Colgate began marketing the first commercial brand in 1873. This company may be the first to claim the household name for toothpaste but the original concept did not come from them. A Viennese museum hides the oldest known toothpaste recipe in its basement. This toothpaste formula dates back 1,500 years before Colgate came into existence.

The Egyptian toothpaste is made with soot and acacia gum mixed with water. Ancient Egyptian scribe wrote on papyrus the words describing the Egyptian toothpaste – a powder for white and perfect teeth. This dental solution mixes with saliva in the mouth to create the ancient Egyptian toothpaste formula.

Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyph shows Oldest Toothpaste Recipe
Ancient Egyptians have the oldest toothpaste recipe for clean, white teeth.

Now judging by the date of origin of this papyrus, it should be noted that the document was written in Greek. It is the language preferred by the local elites since the time of the Ptolemaic dynasty (305 BC – 30 BC) and later Romans (30 BC – 641 AD). As for the ingredients and their measurement, the more than 1,500-year old recipe called for one drachma (one-hundredth of an ounce) of rock salt, one drachma of mint, and one drachma of the dried iris flower, all mixed with around 20 grains of pepper. According to the document, the composition should form a paste-like consistency when in contact with the saliva of the mouth.

Researchers from Vienna, led by Herman Harrauer, a Viennese doctor, discovered found the papyrus document in a garbage pile outside an ancient Egyptian city named Crocodilopolis. They suggested that an ancient monk wrote the document because it contains medical terms. Christian monks in the 4th century AD also worked as physicians in ancient Egypt.

Doctor Harrauer’s team works tirelessly to unearth the treasure from what they found. Only half of it has been revealed so far. The mystery is yet to be unlocked.

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