Nothing challenges our patience and tenacity more than the common cold. While Santeria prayers and the typical “sana sana sana colita de rana” may comfort us in the face of physical discomfort, today, most of us are more likely to reach for the Tylenol or go to the doctor.
The truth is, in our adulthood, we have probably lost patience with the familiar balms of yesteryear. However, those with Afro roots and Caribbean parents can’t deny that we still rely on good old Florida Water.
Since the 1800s, Latinos have trusted Florida Water (traditionally a mix of alcohol, spices, and floral extracts) to alleviate aches and pains in our bodies and our minds. In fact, you might remember at a young age being encouraged by your mother or tías to use Florida water to help your complexion, lessen exhaustion, and even to take a bath. At around $8 per bottle, Florida Water has proven to be a popular cleansing essential in the homes of Latinos.
Known as “The Baking Soda of the Magical World,” Gabriela Herstik described Florida Water in her 2018 book, Craft: How To Be a Modern Witch, as a way to purify a home. For Latinos, bent on maintaining cultural traditions and practices, it’s believed it can do powerful and menial deeds such as connect the living with ancestral spirits and relieve bug bites. Florida Waters’s claims of healing properties are significant.
“It can be added to a bath, used as a perfume, put on energy points like the third eye, sprayed in the air, and utilized to clean a counter, to name a few. The citrusy scent of the cologne means that it’s both energizing and purifying. It’s also said to represent the fountain of youth,’ which is supposedly in Florida,’ Herstik explains in her book.
With its all-purpose properties, there’s no wonder why Florida Water remains a staple in various Latinx households across the United States. Beyond being an easy cure-all to obtain, its smell inspires the sort of nostalgic devotion that we also feel for products like Vicks VapoRub. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, these products inspire memories in us about the older generations who first introduced us to these products and who have since left us behind.
Today many Latinos and those who believe in the power of Florida Water swear the brew can ease pain and cleanse negative energy from their homes. With just a few drops of goodness to your neck, you’re certainly sure to smell like gold.