The Exciting Topic of Perspiration

The Exciting Topic of Perspiration

Last October, a pet joined my family, which means I have been learning to cohabitate with another species. Now, I did my research before bringing the fluff-ball home. But reading about something differs from experiencing it. For example, when they mentioned shedding, I imagined a few dozen hairs escaping her daily brushing. I did not expect that, should my vacuum break, my entire floor would to be covered in two feet of solid dog hair. To be fair, she might be shedding her winter coat (although considering that our winter is about the same as our fall, spring, and summer, you’d think that coat would involve fewer hairs).

As I am adapting to the little foibles of dogs, my dog is adapting to those peculiarities specific to humans. For instance: sweat. This is only a guess, of course, since my dog still struggles with English. But the feet are the sweatiest parts of our bodies, and she seems fascinated by her humans’ feet.

Even as I write, I can feel the incredulity. “It isn’t unique to humans. If this is true, why are there sayings like, sweating like a pig?” English is funny, isn’t it? This phrase refers to iron. When smelting iron ore, the hot iron is cooled in these cavities called pigs. When moisture gathers around the pigs, the iron is cooled enough to handle. Hence, the saying has nothing to do with the animals called pigs.

Still, those who take issue with me referring to perspiration as a human trait have a point. A few other animals can sweat. Dogs and cats can release a small amount of moisture through their paws. To cool down, hypos seep pink liquid through their pores. (It’s pink because it contains an antibacterial.) Although not produced by sweat glands, we will count it. And there are horses whose sweat contains a natural deodorant that acts like a soap.

But while a few other animals sweat, only primates use it as their primary cooling system. The average person produces 1.5 gallons a day, and a person is capable of sweating as much as 4 gallons a day.

If you think about it, living with someone who walks around oozing liquid is probably as annoying as living with someone who sheds her body weight in hair on the daily. But humans try to be thoughtful. Unlike my dog who refuses to vacuum up after herself, we do things to mitigate our little problem. To address any smell, we wear deodorant or antiperspirant. Deodorant was invented in 1888. What did people do during the regency era?

Just like now, bathing helped tremendously. Undergarments were also a big part of dealing with sweat. A woman’s chemise was washed regularly, even if her dresses were not. This layer rested against her skin and absorbed any excess moisture. A third layer of defense was perfume. The ancient Egyptians used perfume and applied liberal amounts to their underarms, but it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that perfume started gaining popularity in Europe. By the Georgian Era, perfume was a necessity for the wealthy. Initially sold by barbers, both men and women would fill small sponges with perfume and wear these under their clothes. One shop, Floris, was so popular it began selling only perfume. This shop still exists today.

10 Responses to The Exciting Topic of Perspiration

  1. Love your post, Cinnamon, and I was pleased to learn some facts about sweat that I didn’t know. I also found my aversion to camping includes your reasons as well. 🙂

    • Honestly, at this point, I’m not even sure I would be able to get up from the ground if I had to sleep on the floor of a tent. My daughter seems to think we must go camping as a family. Ha! Fat chance.

  2. I’ve often heard the old saying that women don’t sweat, they glow. Yeah, right! Tell that to those who live in humid areas. I’m sure those citizens returning to England from India could tell stories about the heat and sweating. The change of clothing from wool to linen was a necessity. Thanks for sharing. I always learn something new.

    • What a great saying. If it were true, Florida wouldn’t require any lighting. They could just send the women folk out to walk around at night. (It can get very humid there).

  3. I love my A/C too! I am not a Winter girl at all! I think swear is part of all of our lives!lol If that is a pic of your dog at the top it’s very cute.

    • Ahhh… thank you. That picture is a few months old. She’s enormous now. (Okay 26 pounds, but that is big for her breed.) she looks much cuter when she isn’t in the process of destroying my house, ripping apart my purse, or barking at my bedroom door at 2AM. Funny that.

      Agreed on the AC. The AC in my car broke, and I had to wait a week to bring it in. Wow! I can’t believe I went without a car AC my entire childhood. I do not remember it being so uncomfortable. Sometimes, you just don’t know how dependent you have become on something until it’s taken away.

  4. As much as I adore the concept of living in the Regency, the realities of no A/C and no indoor plumbing would have me quickly changing my mind. I live in North Carolina where we have winter about 45 days per year. In truth, I start preparing my yard for spring and summer by early February—quite different from shoveling snow sometimes into April when I resided in Ohio. Sweat. Perspiration. Etc. are part of life here in the South, whether one is a dog or a human.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Lack of AC and indoor plumbing are two of the many factors that contribute to my dislike of camping and that’s only temporary. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t make it a week as a time traveler. A relative recently moved to NC so I was looking at pictures of the state. Wow! You lucked out. Such a beautiful place.

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