8 Ways People Made Themselves Smell Good Before Deodorant

iStock.com/DimaSobko
iStock.com/DimaSobko

If you feel self-conscious about your body odor, all you have to do is stroll down the personal hygiene aisle of your local drugstore to find dozens of products engineered to make you smell good. People living through most of history didn’t have that luxury, so they had to get creative. Before deodorant, humans experimented with many natural ingredients, from ostrich eggs to mysterious whale gunk, in their quest to stink less.

1. Ostrich eggs

The ancient Egyptians were innovators when it came to smelling good. In addition to making perfumes and breath mints, they were among the first peoples to use deodorant. Their deodorant recipes were similar to their perfumes, but instead of creating luxurious scents, the main purpose of deodorant was to mask the smell of sweat. One formula called for ostrich egg, nuts, tamarisk, and tortoise shell ground into a paste with fat. Wearers applied the odorless mixture to their bodies to combat B.O.

2. Porridge balls

Prior to the advent of roll-on deodorant, people found other ways to apply fragrances directly to their most active sweat glands. In ancient Egypt, they flavored porridge with incense and rolled it into balls to stick beneath their armpits.

3. Carob

Before it became a trendy chocolate substitute, carob was used as deodorant by ancient Egyptians. Carob trees are native to the Mediterranean region, and affluent Egyptians would crush the pods and rub them over their bodies to counteract their natural funk.

4. Scented olive oil

Olives were such a big part of life in ancient Greece and Rome that they were used as the base for perfumes. Perfume makers would steep aromatics—such as leaves, roots, and flowers—in oil pressed from olives. Once the oil was infused with the scents, they would strain it and apply it to the skin.

5. Perfume baths

Another way ancient Greeks dealt with body odor was by constantly bathing. Some people in high society took scented baths before applying perfume beneath their armpits (a practice they copied from the Egyptians). In that era, it wasn’t unusual to take baths once a day—a practice that faded out in the Middle Ages when getting nude to bathe was considered impure.

6. Ambergris

Many of the most common perfume ingredients throughout history came from messy places. Ambergris, which has been used by perfumers for centuries, is a waxy substance that forms when indigestible matter clumps together in the intestines of sperm whales (how it gets out of whales and into the ocean is still debated). In its fresh state, it smells like cow dung, but when the mass is left to age and harden, it develops a sweet, musky aroma. Ambergris has largely been replaced with synthetic ingredients, but it’s still used to make some high-end perfumes.

7. Musk

Musk—a word still associated with fragrances today—first caught perfumers' attention in the Medieval era. It comes from a small sac that hangs in front of a male musk deer’s genitals, and it smells like urine when the deer secretes it. To achieve the desired aroma—sweet, earthy, and sensual—the gland must be harvested and left to dry. The substance was such a popular perfume ingredient for centuries that musk deer were placed on the endangered species list in the '70s. Today, perfumes with a “musky” scent use synthetic ingredients.

8. Carbolic acid

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cosmetics brands realized they could make money by telling women they stink. Human body odor was actually less pungent for most of history than it is now (according to a recent study, using antiperspirants consistently could make sweat smell worse), but insecure consumers were convinced it was a problem. The deodorant used 100 years ago was different from the product most people are familiar with today. It contained acid that could damage skin and clothing; one home recipe from 1903 included carbolic acid, which burns on contact with the skin.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm on the Fourth of July

iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1
iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1

The Fourth of July can be rough for dogs. Fireworks displays light up their senses with unfamiliar noises, flashes, and smells, and parties flood their homes with strange guests who may invade the rooms they usually have as private retreats. And when distressed dogs escape, howl, or thrash around the house, Independence Day can quickly become a nightmare for their owners, too. To minimize Fido's stress this holiday, we spoke to some dog experts to discover the best ways to keep your canine calm on the Fourth of July.

1. Exercise Your Dog

Anthony Newman, the dog whisperer who runs New York City's Calm Energy Dog Training, says that exercise is a great way to help your dog let off some nervous energy. "Whenever Fido is going to be neglected for an extended period of time, or around any stressful stimuli, it always helps to tire him out just before—and even during the night if you can," Newman says. "As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog! He'll be calmer, happier, and more peaceful."

2. Keep Your Dog Indoors

Dr. Stephanie Liff, head veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care, says the best place to keep your pet during a fireworks show is inside and away from the windows. "If the pet is very scared, an escape-proof crate or a sound-insulated room, such as an internal bathroom, may help the pet to feel more secure," Liff tells Mental Floss. "If you cannot keep your pet inside, make sure that the pet is prevented from escape (monitor all exits and tell guests to monitor your pet)."

3. Socialize Your Dog

While your dog may feel more secure in a room away from all the noise, Newman points out that keeping your dog isolated in another room for too long can be stressful for your pet. "Release his curiosity and let him in on the fun, to run around and play with both two-legged as well as four-legged guests," Newman says. "Then back to his obedient room, bed, car, crate, or spot. Rinse and repeat as needed throughout the night."

4. Take Control of Your Dog

According to Newman, the best way to keep your dog calm during the chaos of July 4th is to stay in charge. "If your dog winces, shivers, and runs away at loud noises, the last thing he wants is to feel like nobody else is looking out for him," Newman says. Don't let your dog run rampant around the house or follow him around trying to soothe him. Instead, Newman says it's important to "take control by attaching a super-light leash that you can grab and lead him whenever you need."

5. Explore Medicating Your Dog

In extreme cases of nervousness, Liff says that you should talk to your vet about medication to sedate your dog.