The Uses of Asbestos

It's Snow Laughing Matter!

Snow is something we see more than enough of over the Winter period. However, the real deal does melt and disappear. But for circumstances where snow needs to reside for aesthetic purposes, artificial snow has had its place in history and it is one of the weird and wonderful instances where asbestos has played its part.

Chrysotile (white) asbestos has been used as a substitute for snow, which it greatly resembles. Not only because it looked realistic but also because it didn’t melt and was fire-proof. Chrysotile was sold as artificial snow, in boxes resembling washing powder, from the late 1920s and 1930s under a variety of trade names – “Snow Drift”, “White Magic Snow”, “Christmas Snow”, “Artificial Snow”. It was sprinkled on Christmas trees, decorations and ornaments to give the fresh fallen snow look.

Movies requiring snowy scenes had to rely on artificial snow on an industrial scale. Two of the most popular movies of all times used many tonnes of Chrysotile sprayed about the movie sets to reproduce falling and fallen snow.

One of the classic Christmas songs – “White Christmas” written by Irving Berlin and sung by Bing Crosby first appeared in the 1942 movie “Holiday Inn” also starring Fred Astaire. The snow scenes were all formed by sprayed Chrysotile.

Wizard of Oz
In the 1939 classic movie the “Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy, Scarecrow and Lion were sprayed with raw Chrysotile asbestos in the “Poppy Field” scene, exposing cast and crew alike.

Ten Most Unusual Asbestos Uses

Asbestos has been used in a wide array of products over the years, some well-known uses and some unusual ones.

We have compiled the ten most unusual uses of asbestos that we know of:

  • 1

    An old brand of toothpaste used to contain asbetsos to help abrasion on the teeth
  • 2

    An emperor had a tablecloth woven out of asbestos It was thrown onto a furnance to burn off the food and grease leaving the cloth intact.
  • 3

    Frequesntly used as Insulation for rocket engines on space shuttles
  • 4

    Asbestos has been used in Cigarette Filters
  • 5

    Old hood style hair dryers contained a layer of asbestos inside the hood to stop customers getting burnt as did ironing boards
  • 6

    Thermo plastic components such as telephones, toilet cisterns and fuses
  • 7

    Chlorine for bleach, cleansers and disinfectants is produced using asbestos products
  • 8

    Makeup and talcum powder
  • 9

    Wall paper & paper lining
  • 10

    Heart & lung surgeons used asbestos thread to close incisions