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topic 32413

Need 'Sweet Spirits of Nitre'

Current question and answers:

April 15, 2021

thumbs up sign I work at an antique shop and came across a bottle of Sweet Spirits Nitre. After Googling it I came across this thread. IT was fun to read your stories so I want to contribute a photo of the bottle. Enjoy!

Sweet Spirits of Nitre 32413-1b Sweet Spirits of Nitre 32413-1a

Jenna Motichka
- Honesdale Pennsylvania
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May 5, 2021

! My wife and I were both born near the beginning of WWII. A dark blue bottle, with a glass rod attached to the screw on top, of Sweet Nitre, was a staple in the medicine chests of both of our homes. I remember my father using the glass rod to put a few drops of it on top of a half glass of water when I would wake up after having a nightmare to calm me down. My first was waking up and seeing Hitler outside my bedroom window, in Virginia, which turned out to be a tree swaying in the moonlight. On a different matter, in 1974, my infant daughter got "the colic" here in Georgia. I rushed to the drug store to buy a bottle of Paregoric as you used to be able to get it OTC. By then it was by Rx only. Ridiculous! Her pediatrician was out of town. I am an Optician, so I called an Ophthalmologist who had raised four boys alone. He talked to the pharmacist and prescribed it. All of the mild narcotic things we used to be able to buy OTC by "signing the book" are now Rx only, yet all over the rest of the world, you can still get them, and we have a much worse drug problem than they do.

Bob Rihl
- Augusta, Georgia
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May 2021

A. Thanks Bob. Not only that, but according to Pharmacy Times (www.pharmacytimes.com/view/2003-06-7241), the Institute for Safe Medication Practices wants re-training and special notices everywhere -- from pharmacies, to ambulatory care centers, to physician practices, and other locations -- because there have been a number of deaths due to confusion between Paragoric, which is "camphorated tincture of opium" and "opium tincture" -- which is 25X stronger. These accidental overdose deaths could not have happened of course, nor would there be any need for this retraining & special notices, were it not for the fact that Paragoric now requires a prescription like the opium tincture it now gets confused with :-(

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
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May 6, 2021

thumbs up sign Yes, I think it is a plot to force you to pay an MD for an office visit, for which you have to make an appointment, once you get past the phone tree. Doctors used to have office hours and you just walked in and waited, or rang the bell at night, and he'd come down in his p.j.s. Also, up until 1970, an 8 year old kid could buy cough medicine with codeine, 4 oz every 5 days, just by "signing the book." I don't recall any drug overdoses being a problem. As a teen, I lived in Knoxville, TN. It was dry, but up at the end of our street was a moonshiner. Two retired old maid school teachers would make a daily trip up to the moonshiner and buy a little bottle of white lightening, then they'd go back down the street and visit a different drug store each day and each get their 4 oz of Paregoric, then go home and chill out. They probably each lived to be 100. Why did the Feds crack down on these mild substances?

Bob Rihl
- Augusta, Georgia
^- Reply to this post -^

Previous closely related Q&A's starting in:


Q. Can you please tell me where I can purchase the product Sweet Spirits of Nitre?

MONIQUE J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


A. A pale yellow liquid, of a sweetish taste and a pleasant ethereal odor. It is obtained by the distillation of alcohol with nitric and sulphuric acids, and consists essentially of ethyl nitrite with a little acetic aldehyde. It is used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, antispasmodic, etc. Called also sweet spirit of niter

For those of us who don't know (I had to grab a reference myself).

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina


A. Sweet spirit of nitre, so one sees, taken off market!
What would cost 25 cents to cure simple blisters, now cost us $25.00 Now, we have all types of molecular compound derivatives, sporting and supporting these overpriced compounds. Guess what, filled with steroids!

Vince C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Real Estate - Garden Grove, California


A. I used spirit of niter 45 years ago. I was having trouble trying to urinate. I kept trying to go 6 or 8 times and I was hurting My father was living with us and he asked me what was going on I told him I could not pee. He asked me if we had any spirit of niter? So I looked in the medicine chest and found some. He told me to take 3/4 drops of it with some sugar in warm water. Well in a half of an hour I was having my back getting hot at the belt line I tried to pee several times and about 45 minutes after I took the niter I passes a kidney stone.WHEW {{If it works take it off of the market. and sell something for more money.}}[my wording]

Harold S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Waterloo, New York

affil. link
"Folk Remedies That Work"
from Abe Books


affil. link
"Oddball Ointments, Powerful Potions, ..."
from Abe Books


affil. link
"The Old Herb Doctor"
from Abe Books



A. I have taken Sweet spirits of niter since I was a child, usually only when I have tried every other means to cure my problem with urination, and now I have been having problems and have been to my Dr and have been on medications that have not given me any relief, I know that this works for me and I usually only took it when I absolutely needed it. I would be ever so grateful if anyone could tell me where I can get this as most pharmacies don't even know what I am referring to, Can you please help me to locate this so that I can avoid being in misery with my urinary problems. I am 65 years old and I have used this since I was a child and never had any problems it has saved me much misery and many trips to the Doctor and as I said I have been on antibiotics and nothing has helped I just want to be able to give this old fashioned remedy a try to see if I will feel better. Please Reply back to me,Thank You

Rosanna V [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rockledge, Florida


opinion! Big pharma totally owns both political parties, and the FDA has banned this product (and virtually every "traditional remedy") through the following Catch-22 of ruling century-old products to be "new drugs" (frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=1997_register&docid=97-6411.pdf).

"310.502 Certain drugs accorded new drug status through rulemaking procedures. (a) The drugs listed in this paragraph (a) have been determined by rulemaking procedures to be new drugs within the meaning of section 201(p) of the act. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, an approved new drug application under section 505 of the act and part 314 of this chapter is required for marketing the following drugs:
(12) Sweet spirits of nitre drug products."

The revolving-door FDA currently serves the mega-corps and has decreed that rather than testing cheap traditional medicines like this one, bluestone, silver ointments and a host of others, they will outlaw them as hazardous unless someone else runs the tests ... knowing full well of course that traditional medicines cannot be patented, so no substantial money can be made on them, so no one will ever be able to afford to run those expensive tests ... leaving all traditional cures illegal and big pharma able to charge us outlandish prices or force us into illness.

None of these traditional remedies are obtainable in the USA and will remain illegal; but apparently you can get sweet spirits of nitre in Canada.

Please note that I am NOT implying that Spirits of Nitre is safe; I have absolutely no qualifications to do so. Further, these instructions for its use that are based on people's decades-old recollections are often faulty. They may have used it and be alive to talk about it, but they may not have used it the way they think they recall :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

P.S. - This thread has been updated as I've learned more. Some postings below, asking where to get it, preceded my statement that it is not legally available in the USA and should not be interpreted as people asking where to buy an illegal substance.


I've been trying to find a source for spirit of nitre and all I've found is people who've never heard of it. I finally information on it.

It's also great for breaking up the congestion, colds, and fever: 1/2 teaspoon in a glass of water.

Fred S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dallas, Texas


I was given spirits of nitre when I was a child in the early nineteen forties for fevers. We were talking about it today and I decided to find out what was in it. It always took the fever away.

Beverly M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Altamonte Springs, Florida


I myself was given sweet spirits of niter as a child when we were sick and had a fever. I have also asked about it and got that (What?) look.

James B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rawson, Ohio


I have some "Spirits of SweetNitre" and find that it is extremely effective in the treatment of colic in horses. I have very little left and would like to purchase more. I am wondering if anyone knows where, and or how, I could do this?

Jean Vandenha
hobbyist - Enderby, BC, Canada


In case you have not found this stuff, in South Africa one of the old Dutch remedies they sell is called Witdulsies and it contains Ethyl Nitrate and Ethanol. Maybe it can help you. I don't know if you can get it from where you are though.

Amanda Zvisineyi
- Johannesburg, South Africa


I to would like to find Sweet spirits of Niter... This was given to me as a child and it cured me of kidney infection.

I also took it 30 years ago for a a stiff neck . It worked

David Snyder
- Waynesboro, Virginia


My mother mixed water sugar and sweet spirit of nitre for fevers when I was a child..I inquired several years ago at a drug store and the pharmacist had never heard of it..I notice that many people are posting from New Jersey...Is it a Jersey thing?

Carrie Harrison
- Bradley Beach, New Jersey


I am a Jersey native and had never heard of it until this thread, Carrie. Sorry. The "many people posting from New Jersey" is probably just because the website and its operators are in NJ.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


I did a google search on Sweet Spirit of Nitre as my Amish mother in law gave me some today to apply to a bee sting. She send home a partial bottle full with me and said it's good for drawing out the fever in my arm (huge bee sting, painful, red, swollen.) I inquired about this product and she said an Amish lady makes it and sells it. The instructions say: adult dose: up to 1/2 t in water. Do not exceed 3 doses per day or 15 doses per week. Not for long term use. Store in a cool dark place.
Just thought I'd mention that the Amish still use it. I asked to get a full bottle next time she orders, she did mention that it is expensive. I would never give it to a child, but my mother in law said they always used to use it. (All 10 of her children are alive and healthy!)

So, the product is out there :-) I do not have the source at this time. I enjoyed your posts about it.
~*Karen in Holmes Co.Ohio

Karen Miller
- Millersburg, Ohio


In the 1940s when I was a youngster, I remember my Grandfather giving me a liquid with sweet nitre in it when I was very sick. Those were the days before antibiotics and one could die from a fever associated with an infection associated with a sore throat or ear infection. My Grandfather was a Feldsher - field surgeon in German. It is the equivalent of a nurse practitioner today. He treated many soldiers of the Tsar's military with his various herbal medicines during the Boxer rebellion in 1900. That was the only type of medicine at the time. At the time it had to be administered very carefully or it could cause death. Modern pharmaceuticals take care of our ills better and more safely today.

Joe Schiesl
- Manassas, Virginia


I was born in 1927. I experienced "bad dreams" . From early age until age 3 or 4.. I would hear distant sounds get louder and louder Crescendo and decrescendo. At the same time I would have visual retinal bizarre response like spinning spirals and blinking lights.I would awaken crying and my mother would give me some "spirits on Nitre" to calm me ..The bad dreams diminished with time. A colleague jokingly said I was probably relieving the birth canal contractions.. Could be. Salvatore Dali, the great artist said he remembered being born....

Larry Dalglish
- Cresco, Pennsylvania



Charles Johnson
- Kernersville, North Carolina


My father used to take sweet nitre to urinate back around 1945. He ended up having an emergency operation to remove a bunch of kidney stones around 1965. Like a half of quart of stones. He did recover but it took a while.

Alex Stempien
- Boonville, New York


Hi,I was wondering if someone can tell me were I would find sweet spirit of nitre. My husband has been diagnosed with kidney failure (they aren't filtering properly) and we know that a mixture of this with spirit of Juniper and friars balsam (sorry if not spelt correctly) help as I was given them in a capsule when young and cured my kidney's and urine infection.Also fixed my Aunt's severe kidney problems. Please could you let me know were I can purchase some. I live in Newcastle Australia. Regards Mel

Melissa Fenton
nil - NSW Australia


This discussion of Sweet Spirit of Nitre is fascinating and brings me back to my childhood in the 1950s. My mother, too, would give it to me with water when I had a fever and hallucinations, which were very much as described above. Sounds would become slow and distorted and visuals would seem to travel at me and then away. I can still remember the smell and taste of the Sweet Spirit of Nitre and it brings memories of my dear mother taking care of me. I've never found anyone to talk to about this and thank you all for sharing this with me!

Inez Steele
- Haverhill, Massachusetts

January 2, 2008

I was looking for some Sweet spirits of Niter for a cure for Jaundice and done some research. It seems that it is available from the Amish people in America. See details:


Tom Brady
- Ireland

Ed. note: Tom had received this lead from a 3rd party, but unfortunately we did not have their permission to make it public. Both the party being quoted and the store supposedly stocking it contacted us to ask that their names be removed. Sorry.

January 12, 2008

For at least seven years I've been searching for Spirits of Nitre for bladder infections that seem to plague elderly bedridden friends. I grew up in the '30s and clearly remember Mother administering a few drops in water for her children's occasional bouts of bladder problems. It worked! One of my old friends died recently wishing for relief she was certain Nitre would provide, but all my efforts to find some for her failed. It's too late tonight to contact the Amish lady that makes it. I'm so grateful for this exciting clue, and will order some first thing in the morning.

Gloria Hall
- San Antonio, Texas

February 21, 2008

Spirits of Niter

In my family as a child we knew we were sick when mom was getting out the spirits of niter. It was usually used by my mom when we were running a high fever. She would get a teaspoon of sugar, put one or two drops of niter in it then we would take the spoon full followed by a full glass of water. The taste was awful...but it worked. This was in the late 60's and early to mid 70's and we were still taking it. All of us are healthy and no one had a bad reaction to it. Wish I could find it now!

Monica Crowell
- Downingtown, Pennsylvania

March 5, 2008

55 years ago this was purchased at a drug store and ten drops placed in water to drink and help with excess acid in ones system. I have called every pharmacy around my area to no avail.

Lucille Fekete
- Plantation, Florida

May 6, 2008

When my son was born in 1965 and ran a fever, I was told by my mother-in-law to place a drop on a little sugar and then follow up with as much water as he would drink. This always worked for me and I was wondering if this could have harmed him in any way. Now my Great Granddaughter is running a fever and my Granddaughter has asked me for advice.
After reading some of the posts, I am not sure if this is a good idea. Am I wrong?

Judy Clem
- Lake Elsinore, California

August 5, 2008

Oh my God, I remember Nitre too...And I also learned very early on, don't cry wolf, or fake illness to get out of school, cause you were gonna get " Dosed "...It never killed us, but for about the first 15 minutes afterwards, we wish we would have went ahead and died cause it was so bad...

mark mckeehen
- willard, Ohio

August 7, 2008

for 3 months now I have had urine problems. the problems are, frequent urination, lower back pain, abdominal pain, my doctor has had me try 3 bladder control pills, and have tried antibiotics twice, .....i need to add that I had cervical cancer and was treated with chemotherapy and internal and external radiation, I am now at year 2 since end of treatment and am cancer free so far, I have also been checked for bladder and colon cancer and both negative, when I had a cystoscopy, he found bleeding vessels and cauterized them, one did break open and I started to bleed again, possibly because I had passed many stones in various sizes(which may have caused the bleeding, my doctor does not communicate very well, and yes I am looking into a second opinion as well as talking to my radiologist, as the doctors are blaming the problems on the radiation....

today , I still have frequent urination, severe back pains and abdominal pains, I do have the spirit of nitre and am on day 2 of taking it, should I only take it to day 5 in hopes that it will improve my 3 issues I have had for 3 months..
please let me know your opinion
as my doctor wants to do a surgery to implant a stimulus to signal my bladder to tell my brain not to pee...i guess, doesn't sound like something I want to do all to soon, especially when I feel it is still other issues.
thank you, sharon

sharon D.
- Las Vegas, Nevada

August 23, 2008

This is to thank Mr. Tom Brady.
I am 77 years old. When in my forties, I had a urinary problem, my mother suggested three drops in a glass of water. The problem was cleared the next day and I don't know what became of the rest of the bottle but when my youngest son had problems, I couldn't find any anywhere. (It had been taken off the market in the 80's). He wound up going to the doctor; high fee plus medicine and a repeat visit.
As has been stated: "If it works;remove it."
It just came to mind as I was sitting here. Hope no one needs any. Thanks again.

Mary Richards
- Mobile, Alabama

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