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Blue-green antiseptic that is the hallmark of barber shops the world over. Its distinctive smell and color, and the unmistakeable huge letters on the bottle that say "BARBICIDE" make it impossible to miss.

Barbicide has an interesting history. It was created around 1930 by Maurice King, then a high school chemistry teacher. At the time, he was extremely irritated with barbers and the fact that they never disinfected their scissors, combs, and razors.

A kitchen chemist, King decided to make his own disinfectant. He created a quaternary ammonium compound (which was the unmistakable blue-green concoction we all know and love today), and decided to call it Barbicide, which in psuedo-Latin would mean "barber killing." (Like suicide, patricide, matricide, or genocide.)

A quaternary ammonium compound is one of any chemical compounds based on the ammonium (NH4+1) ion, where one or more of the hydrogen atoms is replaced with an organic radical (any incomplete group of carbon and hydrogen). They are all reasonable strong bases, and can quickly kill any microbe that comes into contact with them-- hence the widespread use of Barbicide for quick and easy disinfecting of scissors, combs, razors, and practically anything else a barber or stylist would need to sterilize.

Barbicide has become a fairly large industry, and over 15,000 gallons are produced per month. The corporation that makes Barbicide, King's, is still based in Brooklyn.

As an aside, there is a jar of Barbicide in the Smithsonian Museum of American History, proving that this strange but wonderful little disinfectant has found its place in history.

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