Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that is useful for insulation for fire, heat and sound and was widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries until the health problems associated with its use (causes cancer) meant it became banned in most countries. Asbestos had been used for thousands of years before this and some quite surprising uses were made of it. For instance:
1. Burn The Tablecloth to Clean It
The Emperoror Charlemagne is said to have had a tablecloth made of asbestos that was thrown on the fire to clean it and retrieved totally unharmed. He may have got the idea from the Persians who did the same with napkins. Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asbestos
2. Used as Artificial Snow
Snow scenes in films used to use asbestos to produce the snow effect, for instance in the
Wizard of Oz film (1939) with Judy Garland and in Holiday Inn (1942) with Bing Crosby, where Bing sang the classical “White Christmas” song. It was also supplied as fake snow for households to use as decoration at Christmas. Credit: http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/products/fake-snow/
3. Baby Talcum Powder used to contain Asbestos
Talc is a mineral that is mined from the Earth and is used in many cosmetics and for making talcum powder. It is often found in areas where asbestos is also found, so there can be some contamination of the talc with asbestos. Since the 1970s, companies in the USA have been required to ensure that cosmetic grade talc is free from asbestos. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm293184.htm
4. Used in Making Cheese
Spores were placed on asbestos for making blue cheeses
5. Used in Fermentation Tanks for Producing Methane.
Credit: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC533400/pdf/jbacter00821-0058.pdf Page 70
6. Used to Give the Appearance of Dust in Theatre Productions
For instance, dust on Cobwebs and wine kegs and in old attics!.
7. In Soldiers’ Helmets and Gas Masks
Asbestos was used in helmets from WWI and in gas masks in WW2