The History of Aerosols
A Short History of The Aerosol and the First Aerosols
1825 In the very beginning, Charlie Plinth introduced his Regency portable fountain which used pressure to dispense soda water and was controlled by a stopcock. This was replaced by another device called the siphon champenois which was really a hollow corkscrew that allowed sparkling and other pressurised drinks to be dispensed without removing the cork.
1837 Perpigna invented an early soda siphon incorporating a valve. In the same year, Savaresse introduced an aerated water siphon on a similar principle. The modern soda water siphon is the direct descendant of these inventions.
1899 Helbing & Pertsch patented an aerosol pressurised using methyl and ethyl chloride as a propellant. This was used to produce a spray as a local anaesthetic. The metal or glass phials of ethyl chloride were warmed in the hand to increase the pressure. They were then turned upside down and the end was broken off to deliver a jet of fluid which evaporated rapidly on the skin to produce an intense cold sensation.
A perfume spray device known as a 'chisquete' was used in Peru at spring carnival time. It consisted of a glass tube sealed with a rubber bung held in place by a spring. It contained ethyl chloride and perfume.
1928 The most significant breakthrough came in the 1920s and 30s when Norwegian Eric Andreas Rotheim filed a number of patents for devices that most resemble aerosols that we are familiar with today. He came up with the idea so he could get wax evenly on his skis!
The first commercial production of aerosols took place in Norway at the factory of the Oslo paint manufacturer Alf Berke and then at Mortensen Systems AS. Both of these ventures petered out before the Second World War.
1933 Early aerosol fire extinguishers were invented for use in motor cars by Midgely (General Motors).
1942 It wasn't until the Second World War that aerosols were successfully mass produced. In 1942 in the Pacific Rim, more men were being killed by insect borne disease than by the battle itself. This inspired L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan, who were working for the US Department of Agriculture, to develop the first aerosol insecticides, the 'Bug Bomb', for use by US troops in World War II. After the war they became popular with the public as they were sold through army surplus shops.
1945 Throw away cans and valves are developed making commercial production a reality.
1947 Manufacturers in the US saw the potential. They modified beer cans and replaced the bug bomb's copper valve with a plastic one. Aerosol contract filling begins in the US.
1949 The first automated filling lines are installed in the UK by Walter Gregory & co and Cooper McDougall & Robertson.
First Aerosols in the UK
- Veterinary (maggot spray, ring worm spray, foot rot spray)
- Air Freshener (Press Clear - Walter Gregory & Co, Fresh-Aire - Coopers, McDougall & Robertson)
- Shaving Foam (Colgate - Rapid Shave)
- Medical (antibiotic spray)
- Mid 1960s
- Oven Cleaner
- Antiperspirant (Arrid Extra Dry - Carter-Wallace)
- Late 1960s
- Shaving Gel (Aerosols International)