Florida Water

I was given a gift of a bottle that washed up on a Central American, Carribbean beach.  It is a beautifully ocean-worn, green bottle with irridescence throughout. Sand and shells are trapped inside, held by a sand plug that I do not want to crack for the benefit of emptying the bottle.  Some of the sand looks as if oil seeped in and trapped both itself and the sand inside the neck. Most of the sand is coarse, lumpy and dark with small shell shards mixed in, tumbling around; most likely some coral. Air pockets exist and the bottle’s inside seems to be pitted in spots, as sea glass shards get pitted just from being in salt water.  Not one part of the glass is broken, chipped or cracked.

Vertically, raised letters on the bottle read:





It is an awesome gift: a beach find, sand from a beach I’ve never been to, glass that appears old and it is from a dear friend.  The bottle is displayed in a prominent spot in my house between a Seagrass basket from the South Carolina Low Country filled with shells from my first month living on Siesta Key back in 2009 and a digital frame featuring scenes from a Hawaiian vacation in 2012.

My husband was looking at it last week and we talked about what Florida Water could be.  He found it online, ordered it and we just got a bottle of Florida Water in the mail.  It came in a plastic bottle of the same shape as my glass treasure but just a little smaller.  The cologne inside is sealed with a plastic screw top and a label with a vintage look is stuck to the outside of the bottle.  We took a whiff and a pleasant tropical aroma of citrus, lavendar and clove touched our senses.  I first thought of Jean Nate, a scent from my youth.  My husband read me some information about it and found that Florida Water is a uni-sex cologne with an orange base.  It can be used as a cologne or toilet water.  We read that it can be used in your bath and that baseball teams in the South would combine it with ice in a cooler and wet down some towels to wrap around the players’ necks to cool off when it was too hot out.DSCN6914

So, how did a bottle of Florida Water end up on a South American beach?

Murray & Lanman’s Florida Water was the the most popular product sold by Lanman & Kemp, a leading New York City wholesale druggist firm in 1808. Florida Water was sold as a toilet water. Advertisements claimed it was associated with the Fountain of Youth that the Spanish explorer Ponce de León had searched for in the early 1500s and had refreshing qualities and cosmetic uses.

Lanman & Kemp was involved in the 19th-century wholesale drug (pharmaceuticals and herbals) trade throughout the world.  With the help of traveling sales agents, major company operations existed in Central and South America and in the Caribbean Islands. Shipments were also sent through the maritime mail.

There were many variations of the Florida Water bottle shape and size throughout the years. I learned that Florida Water was launched in 1908 although the “druggists” partnership between Murray & Lanman was pre-civil war. The following parnership of Lanman & Kemp operated afterward and shipped many personal products throughout the world by boat, including Florida Water.

Maritime shipping had its good and bad moments. The Carribbean and Gulf of Mexico is dotted with shipwrecks. It wasn’t until recently that hurricanes and other storms were tracked. In early days, ships went about their business moving around the vast seas without warning until it was too late. It is estimated that hundreds of shipwrecks still lay, mostly unexplored, beneath the waters.  It is noted that several bottles of Murray & Lanman Florida Water were found from the depths of the shipwrecked S.S. Republic.  Cargo, loosened by storms, end up on shores and that is exactly how a bottle, my bottle,  that could possibly be around 100 years old, was recently found on the coast of the southeastern Yucatan Peninsula.



Plastic Free July

July is celebrated with a challege to be plastic free. An organization called Plastic Free July asks people worldwide to be aware of the overuse of plastics in our day-to-day lives. You can accept the challenge to “refuse single-use plastic” all month long or for just a week or just a day.

Here are a few tips to succeed with this challenge:

  • Carry picnic items in reusable containers from home. Use your cooler to take the “dirty dishes” home in.
  • Use dishwasher safe, BPA-free drink bottles for water or your favorite beverage..
  • Put the Keurig away for a while and make a pot of coffee the old-fashioned way
  • Love your red plastic cup? There are glass and reusable-plastic versions at specialty stores.
  • Carry snacks and other items to the beach in a cloth bag. Leak-proof zippered cosmetic bags are great for first aid and sunscreen items. Separate your snacks with paper bags.
  • Ask for paper bags at the grocery store check out or carry a handful of cloth shopping bags. You can use the paper grocery bags at home to wrap gifts, mailings, school books or use as trash bags.
  • Take small “lunch bag” sized bags to the grocery store when purchasing Produce.
  • Some grocery stores may let you use Mason jars from home instead of using the deli plastic containers when you purchase by-the-pound salads.
Click on the image to go to PlasticFreeJuly.org

Click on the image for more information


Look in your medicine cabinet to find ways to eliminate plastic. Facial cleansers, toothpaste and household cleansers may contain microbeads. These tiny beads of plastic get washed down the drain after each use and end up in our streams, lakes, rivers and oceans. Microbeads are not biodegradable and can harbor toxins that kill the marine life that ingest them.

What will you do to eliminate plastics in your life? Check out the website, PlasticFreeJuly.org for more ideas.

Take the plastic-free challenge and let me know how you do. I will, too.