How did Roman recycle urine into toothpaste?

| David Lewis | History



In the 1st century AD, the Romans had public toilets called latrines. Using latrines was a social event where they met friends, exchanged opinions, and heard the news.

The latrines were long benches with holes over tubes of running water connected to an underground sewer system. mind you that was 2000 years ago, pretty impressive!

Instead of toilet paper, the ancient Romans used a tersorium – a modified marine sponge on a stick that was commonly used in public toilets. To clean it is washed in a bucket with water and vinegar each time after use.

The Romans used to keep the urine in round bowls placed on street corners. why? After soaking in the sun, the bacteria turn the urea into ammonia, and so it could be used for many purposes like washing clothes, tanning the skin, as a body soap, fertilizer for plants, and whitening teeth.

Bonus fact: Roman sewer systems were very advanced. This technology was all but forgotten in the darg ages and reappeared only in the 16th century.


Roman latrine (Wikimedia Commons)