Old-time earache remedy
Earaches are part of my earliest memories.
There are two things I remember vividly about them. One thing is the unpleasant sensation of ear-drops trickling through the inside of my ear and down into the depths of my head.
My other memory about earaches is the hot salt packs my mother fixed for me. I could lay my head on their good warmth and feel the pain of my ear melt away.
The hot packs were simply homemade cotton bags, about the size of a potholder, filled with salt. My mother warmed them carefully in the oven, and they held heat for quite a while. The warm salt had a distinctive odor that only warm salt has. I would still know it if I smelled it.
I think the heat was naturally moist. Salt loves to soak up moisture, you know.
Apparently we didn't have an electric heat pad. It was the mid-1950s -- maybe heat pads hadn't even been invented yet, or maybe they were too expensive for country folks like us.
Hot salt packs were an old-time earache remedy that my mother probably remembered from her own ear problems as a child. An 1868 book of advice for mothers suggests this very treatment for earache: "Apply to the ear a small flannel bag, filled with hot salt—as hot as can be comfortably borne..."