One hundred of years ago copper sulphate, known colloquially as bluestone, was carried for gambling luck. Bluestone is highly toxic, however, and doubtless more than a few who were trying to bring themselves good fortune brought just the opposite. A natural replacement was to turn to laundry bluing (historically spelled “blueing”) which kept white clothing – a favored color in both hoodoo and Voudon – clean without dulling it. Gamblers began to carry a bluing ball, nine silver dimes and a lump of alum in a green flannel bag as a mojo for luck.
As time went by, the bluing’s properties of purifying laundry translated to spiritual purity and safety as well. Bathing in water to which a bluing square, a tablespoon of ammonia and a tablespoon of sugar have been added is said to clear the way for success in both business and personal matters.
Bluing is also dissolved in water and then set out in saucers around the home or place of business to ward of evil and draw in benevolent spirits. Some sprinkle their front porch with this mixture each morning to scare off “haints”; the malevolent dead who can bring sickness and tragedy into a home. As an aside, it is interesting to note that some people paint their entire porch a blue color referred to in the South as “haint blue” in order to affect the same purpose. Benjamin Moore even has a specific line of haint blues.
Bluing is not as easy to come by as it used to be. The two types of bluing most commonly used in hoodoo or bluing balls from
Mexico and Reckitt’s Crown Blue Squares from . Both dissolve in warm water and have the added bonus of being pre-measured. Botanicas like Lucky Mojo Co. and New Orleans Mistic (see sidebar for both) are good places to find either form of bluing. France
Since I live far from the madding crowd (and, unfortunately, often far from the reasonable shipping cost), I improvise with what’s available at the local market. In my case it’s Mrs. Stewart’s Concentrated Liquid Bluing (since 1883). Of course, precautions should always be taken to following manufacturer’s instructions. That said, properly diluted bluing is safe for adults to bathe in but not to ingest. As an added bonus, bluing really does do wonders on white textiles. I find it to be even more effective than bleach, especially for delicates. Bonne chance ~
Header: The Laundress by Boilly