I think I’ve figured out this web browsing business and after dodging all the nonsense I came upon a blog belonging to Roger Edison, a chuck wagon cook from down San Antonio way. This blog article came from his camp and you can find it on his Chuck Wagon History and Cooking blog.
Now, most of us know about using charcoal as a heat source but did you know that a knowledgeable chuck wagon cook found other uses for this important resource. So, here’s Roger’s article.
Springs provide rich quality drinking water but not all watering holes yielded good potable water. The chuck wagon cook boiled the water killing any bacteria. Then placing charcoal in a cloth, he filtered the water by pouring the water through the charcoal ash into the barrel, it acted as a filter-purifier. Although, cookie kept a small keg of charcoal for other reasons. While it could be turned into black powder, correct Ph balance, or used for making lye and even pickling by early pioneers, cookie often used it as a top dressing on wounds that help absorb infections. If a cowhand got sick due to unknown poisoning, the cook fed 2 teaspoon full’s, three times a day until the poison was absorbed and the cowhand was feeling better. They also used it mixed with animal fat for soap along with cleaning cooking gear. The chuckwagon cook was an innovative soul making good use of everything available in their surroundings.