The more I look for washing copper articles the more surprised I am that anyone that had one on their property survived. Most of the articles about them are regarding women’s skirts catching fire and them being seriously burnt or killed, or small children falling into the boiling water and suffering terribly in hospital until they die. It is awful. The other thing that makes me surprised the humble copper didn’t kill everyone that came in contact with them is the other uses they were put to. They didn’t just use the for washing and bathing. They were also used for cooking.
I have found newspaper references to them being used for; drying grapes, purifying honey, making tomato sauce, brewing beer, boiling jars for preserving fruit and being used as illegal stills . Once they were finished using them for cooking there was a chance that they were again dragged out for a multitude of purposes such as; boiling rope to prevent it stretching, dyeing cloth, making a solution to kill ticks in a shed, and making an arsenic-based weed killer and many other things that would not make their way into my washing machine let alone my cooking pot!
You might think that they would have a few coppers, each used for different things, and I certainly hope so, but the only recipe I found that recommended having a single purpose copper was for the making of jam. There was a lot of published advice on how to keep your copper clean and after reading all the things that it could have been used for, no wonder they were so obsessed with keeping them clean!