anvil dust

anvil dust n [Because it accumulates about the blacksmith’s anvil; the comb is not recorded in the OED, but occurs in England at least as early as 1813.] hist

The black oxide scale that forms on red-hot iron and flakes off when the iron is deformed.

1820 U.S. Congress Serial Set 51 H.doc. 45.41, Anvil dust well sifted through an old stocking, and moistened with sweet oil, or emery, will be employed to remove rust [from fire arms]. 1848 Dollar Newspaper (Philadelphia PA) 12 [July 4]/5, If the situation be a higher, drier, poorer one, equal parts of anvil dust and lime mixed with a quantity of horse manure or black earth from the woods will be the proper remedy [for rose bugs]. 1886 Centralia Daily Sentinel (IL) [4 Dec 4]/3 ( [Black], Henderson stated that he burned up a medicine that contained quicksilver, hair, load stone and anvil dust. . . This concoction would kill a person without taking any of it; it just had to be around in the room. 1919 Atlanta Constitution (GA) 8 Aug 3/3, Her father thought she needed iron in her blood, and directed her brother, Aurelius, to stop by Johnston Bros.’ blacksmith shop and procure some anvil dust . . when he made a trip to the Decatur market this week. 1939 in 1970 Hyatt Hoodoo 1.521 Memphis TN, Dat anvil dust is jis’ lak lodestone. Well, it’ll draw dem craps an’ make it fall on ’leben or any point dey’s trying tuh git. 1947 (1964) Randolph Ozark Superstitions 105 swMO, nwAR, Some yarb doctors fortify their choctaw-root with wild-cherry bark and “anvil dust,” whatever that may be. 1974 Kingsport Times (TN) 19 June sec B 3/2 cNC, My grandfather had a blacksmith shop and she [=the writer’s mother] would get anvil dust, mostly iron, mix it with molasses, or mix molasses and sulphur as a tonic.

Etymological Supplement:

1813 Good et al. Pantologia 4 (s.v. floor), Floors (Earthen), are commonly made of loam, and sometimes, especially to make malt on, of lime, and brooksand, and gun-dust, or anvil-dust from the forge.