Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Lighthouse Recipe

Did you know that the U.S. Lighthouse Board specified a whitewash recipe for keeping the Ocracoke tower protected and presentable?

This is the recipe:

One half bushel of unslaked lime with boiling water
One peck of salt
One half pound of powdered Spanish whiting [several Internet sites mistakenly describe this as "fish"; actually, Spanish Mackerel and Whiting are fish, but Spanish whiting is chalk, or calcium carbonate!]
Three pounds of rice in boiling water
One pound of clear glue

The mixture was to be applied as hot as possible.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Beatrice Wells, child evangelist, who preached at Ocracoke in the late 1930s/early 1940s. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022116.htm.


  1. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Three pounds of rice in boiling water? Do you suppose the rice was cooked or merely placed in the enough boiling water to release the starch but the grains were incorporated in the "brew" to add texture to the surface when painting?? Certainly, with enough sleuthing the quantity of water can be found. What would the typical whitewash look like? clotted cream, yogurt, ??? Thnx.

    1. I am sorry, but I don't know the answers to your questions. I doubt that anyone alive remembers making this concoction.

    2. http://philipmarshall.net/hs/techniques/systems/finishes/media/whitewash.htm

      "A formula used by the United States Government in making whitewash for light-houses and other public buildings is as follows:

      Unslaked lime...... 2 pecks
      Common salt....... 1 peck
      Rice flour........... 3 pounds
      Spanish whiting... 1/2 pound
      Glue (clean and
      white.............. 1 pound
      Water, a sufficient quantity.

      Slake the lime in a vessel of about 10 gallons capacity; cover it, and add the salt previously dissolved in warm water. Boil the rice flour in water; soak the glue in water and dissolve on a water bath, and add both, together with the whiting and 5 gallons of hot water to the mixture, stirring all well together. Cover to protect from dirt, and let it stand for a few days, when it will be ready for use. It is to be applied hot, and for that reason should be used from a kettle over a portable furnace."

  2. Anonymous6:30 PM


  3. Anonymous1:21 PM

    I'm eager to try this recipe on my lighthouse, but I don't know how to "slake" the unslaked lime. Can anyone help me here?

  4. Anonymous1:25 PM

    I'm eager to try this recipe on my lighthouse, but I don't know how to "slake" the unslaked lime. Can anyone help me here?