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What the Heck is a Florida Water Bottle?

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Another fantastic discovery by Saltwater Sean (Sean McMullen). So, how did a bottle of Florida water cologne end up in the waters of Nova Scotia? We’ll never know, but here are some fascinating facts about Florida Water cologne.

As bathing in the 1900’s was not very common, often perfume was used to mask an unfavourable odours. In the early 1900s, a typical family washed their clothes/themselves once a week on Saturday night, possibly in preparation for church on Sunday. They used one tub of water, with the father bathing first, followed by the mother, and finally by each child. Indoor plumbing and modern bathrooms became widely available in the mid-to-late 1900s.

About Florida Water

Florida Water is the American equivalent of Eau de Cologne, also known as Cologne Water. It has the same citrus base as Cologne Water, but the emphasis is on sweet orange rather than lemon and neroli, and it includes spicy notes such as lavender and clove. The name alludes to the fabled Fountain of Youth, which is said to be located in Florida, as well as the scent’s “flowery” nature.

According to current trademark holders Lanman & Kemp Barclay, Florida Water was first introduced in 1808 by New York City perfumer (and original company founder) Robert I. Murray. Murray was joined by David Trumbull Lanman in 1835, and the firm became Murray & Lanman, then David T. Lanman and Co., and finally Lanman & Kemp in 1861. According to the company, their product, which is now sold under the Murray & Lanman brand, still uses the original 1808 formula, and the current label is a slightly modified version of the original 1808.

Florida Water was considered a unisex cologne, suitable for both men and women. Although Victorian etiquette books warn young ladies against the “offensive” impression made by strong perfume, Florida Water and Eau de Cologne were recommended as appropriate for all, along with sachets for scenting the linen and fresh flowers in the corsage. Barbershops used large quantities as cologne and aftershave. Murray & Lanman Florida Water was advertised as “The Richest of all Perfumes” and “The Most Popular Perfume in the World” in the 1880s and 1890s.

Florida Water
Unknown artist(s), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Florida Water, like other colognes of the time, was valued for its refreshing and tonic nature as well as its scent, and could be used as a skin toner or as what we now call a “body splash.” It was also used as toilet water (eau de toilette) by combining it with bath or washwater.

Certain religious practices, most notably hoodoo, use Florida water as a cleansing liquid on occasion. It can be used in the same way that holy water is used in that practice.

If interested, Florida Water can be purchased at Amazon.

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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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