2 Chapter 2: QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF PRAGUE SALT

Fume Cupboard, Laboratory, Ottawa, from The Progress Report, 1912.
Fume Cupboard, Laboratory, Ottawa, from The Progress Report, 1912.

Changing from saltpeter to the direct addition of nitrite in curing brines has not been easy to accomplish.  In 1925, a curing brine was imported into the USA by the Chicago-based firm, the Griffith Laboratories.  It was a crude mechanical mix of sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium nitrite.  They called it Prague Salt.  It arguably became the most successful curing brine of the early 1900’s.

The name fascinated me.  Especially after an internet search where I learned that nobody really had a clue where the name came from.   The Griffith Laboratories documents state that the product was imported from Germany (Ladislav NACHMÜLLNER vs The Griffith Laboratories), but I was unable to find a curing brine from the 1920’s that was produced and sold in Germany called Prague Salt.  I found no reference to Prague Salt at all before 1925, in Germany or any other country for that matter.

If it was not called Prague Salt in Germany, why would Griffith call it that?  I wondered if the fact that “Prague” is used in the name had any definite link to Prague, even if it was produced in Germany.  Is there a link and if so, what and possibly, who is that link?  Is there any significance to the “Salt” in Prague Salt?  Similar curing brines of the time was not called “salt.”  Is this just coincidence or is there more to this?

I started to unravel the history of the direct addition of nitrite to curing brines.  Tantalizing possibilities of what was behind the name, Prague Salt, developed.  The answers are conjecture, but as you will see, they naturally flow from concrete facts. The conclusions are presented here, in part, to allow others to contribute and bring evidence to the table that will prove the contrary or confirm my hypothesis.  As new information comes to light, this article will be amended.  What I discovered makes for one of the greatest stories of our age.

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The Naming of Prague Salt Copyright © 2016 by Eben van Tonder. All Rights Reserved.

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