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'Vaporole' smelling salts, London, England, 1924-1940

‘Vaporole’ was a trademark name coined by Burroughs, Wellcome & Co for their aromatic smelling salts. Once the silk-covered glass capsules were snapped open, the strong smell and vapours of ammonia combined with lemon and lavender oil were inhaled and shocked the body into action. The smelling salts were used by those in danger of fainting and also those recovering from post anaesthetic shock, especially when using chloroform. Burroughs, Wellcome & Co advertised their product as being more “superior in pungency and portability” than the ordinary capsule while adding that they could be bought in ‘“dainty boxes of twelve”.

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    Glossary: anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

    Glossary: chloroform

    A liquid formerly used as a general anaesthetic although no longer used for this purpose as it causes liver damage and affects the heart rate. It is now used in low concentration to treat flatulence.

    Glossary: smelling salts

    Used to arouse consciousness. The salts release a small amount of ammonia, which triggers the nasal passage's inhalation reflex.