A long article on the above subject was copied from ihp Portsmouth (N. H.) Journal xnto the Hew York Tribune of the 1st instant. Its author subscribes himself A. Baker, and his object is to prove that the use of saleratus and cream of tartar in bread and pastry is the cause of the bad teeth so common in our country, and that it is also a fruitful source, of disease and premature death. He quotes the statement of Dr. Alcott to prove that 300,000 die annually from the use of saleratus; and he states that in Portsmouth alone 50,198 pounds of saleratus and 15,100 pounds of cream of tartar are sold annually in a population of only 10,000 persons. From these statistics, it seems, that every inhabitant of that city consumes five pounds of saleratus and one and a half pounds of cream of tartar yearly. If these statistics are correct, (but we apprehend they are greatly exaggerated,) there must be a sour set of inhabitants in Portsmouth^ Mr. Baker states that Europeans have much better teeth than Americans, and all because the former do not use saleratus in food. He also states that the early settlers of our country and their descendants had good teeth until about fifty years since when the use of saleratus commenced. The object of Mr. Baker, we have no doubt, is a well meant desire to correct what he considers a national evil, but if he is not correct as to the cause of early decay in teeth, he will do injury rather than good, in thus directing attention to the wrong source of an evil. We are convinced that Dr. Alcott makes sweeping charges which cannot be substantiated against salsjratus, in attributing so many premature deaths to its use. It is a well-known fact that there are many families in our country in which neither saleratus nor cream of tartar are employed, and who have no better teeth than others in which these substances are used. We are acquainted with cases of this kind ourselves. An, immoderate use of saleratus and cream of tartar in bread must be injurious, as is the immoderate use of any substance in food, but as Mr. Baker asserts that the teeth of the Parisians are excellent, it is evident that he overshoots the mark in his onslaught on saleratus and cream of tartar by our people. When cream of tartar and saleratus are employed in bread-making, the tartaric acid of the cream of tartar unites with the potash of the saleratus, forming the neutral tartarate of potash, while carbonic acid gas is liberated, and raises or lightens the bread. Now, if the tartarate of potash is a poison in bread, as is asserted by Mr. Baker, and if it is the cause of the early decay of American teeth, why does it not produce the same effects upon the teeth of the people of France, when there is so much tartarate of po-I tash in their wine. Our people eat, the French drink the tartarate, and what is the difference ? If it is such an evil in America, it ought to be as great in France. All vine casks have a thick, hard crust adhering to them ; this is argil or tartarate of potash precipitated from the juice of the grape. The wine-drinking people of France consume far more tartarate of potash annually than the the bread-eating people of Portsmouth. The small amount of saleratus used in bread-baking, we are confident, is not the cause of early decay in the teeth of our people. Some other cause must be hunted up.
This article was originally published with the title "Saleratus and Cream of Tartar in Bread" in Scientific American 13, 41, 326 (June 1858)