Letter Re: Constructing a DIY Composting Toilet

Dear Editor:
In regards to “Constructing a DIY Composting Toilet”:
That urine could be a valuable commodity for those that might need to improvise their own black powder one day. I respectfully submit this website link, which explains one way the Old Confederacy manufactured nitre (saltpetre.)

A chemist named Jonathan Harrelson in 1863 figured out how to create more potassium nitrate or nitre by extracting it from urine. The men were all away fighting. But women could collect their urine out of bedpans and pour it into a huge truck pulled by a horse around town and they would make potassium nitrate out of it. A request as placed in the Selma Alabama newspaper and apparently it worked.

So various people on both sides wrote limericks about the phenomenon.

From the Confederates: “An appeal to Jonathan Harrelson

John Harrelson, John Harrelson, you are a wretched creature,
You’ve added to this war a new and awful feature,
You’d have us think while every man is bound to be a fighter,
The ladies, bless their pretty dears, should save their p** for nitre,

John Harrelson, John Harrelson, where did you get this notion,
To send your barrel around the town to gather up this lotion,
We thought the girls had work enough in making shirts and kissing,
But you have put the pretty dears to patriotic pissing,

John Harrelson, John Harrelson, do pray invent a neater
And somewhat less immodest mode of making your saltpeter,
For “tis an awful idea, John, gunpowdery and cranky,
That when a lady lifts her skirt, she’s killing off a Yankee.

(There are a few more lines I have omitted out of respect for the ladies.)

Regards, – Wagstaff